I’ll put to rest any worry on the link: it’s www.golfclubatlas.com. The site is directed by a Pinehurst-area bloke named Ran Morrissett. There is no better way to tell you of its mission than to quote directly from the home page of GCA:
GolfClubAtlas.com is presented to promote frank commentary on golf course architecture. Within this commercial-free site, the subject of golf course architecture is discussed in several different sections, including:
• course profiles that highlight the finer virtues of golf architecture found in over 160 courses world-wide.
• monthly Feature Interviews with a well known golf figure with past interviews archived for your perusal as well.
• a Discussion Group limited to 1,500 people from around the world. Five new participants are added each month in lieu of five that are no longer active. If interested in participating, please email me.
• an ‘In My Opinion’ column for you to submit detailed articles relating to the subject of golf architecture.
• a ‘My Home Course’ section, where you may profile your home course and explain why it is enjoyable to play on a day to day basis.
• an ‘Art & Architecture’ section in which many of the great courses are explored based on how they appeared at their inception through the paintings of artist Mike Miller. There is an ongoing Question and Answer session with Miller with new paintings added on a quarterly basis.
You’ll find the discussion board to be quite interesting. Tom Doak, Kelly Blake Moran, Mark Fine, Paul Cowley and Scott Witter (some of today’s finest practicing golf course architects) contribute with regularity. Experts (and they truly are steeped in wisdom and knowledge!) go back and forth on the virtues of various courses, styles and trends throughout the world. Case in point: a fellow recently attempted to discern the identity of the Brierwood Country Club (formerly Bethlehem Management Club) architect/designer. One of the contributors responded immediately that it had to be William and David Gordon, easter PA designers from the mid 1900s and favorites of the Bethlehem company…wow.
Golf Club Atlas is a remarkable site that really does not aspire to occupy a niche any greater than the one in which it currently resides. If you’re a golfer whose knowledge of golf course architecture is limited to Elma, Brighton, or (on a good day) Elkdale, you’ll benefit from learning more about what great courses are out there. CCB and Park are not great because they’re private. They’re great because they were designed by Donald Ross and Colt/Allison, respectively. Arrowhead, Harvest Hill and Diamond Hawk will test your game differently because they were designed by professional, practicing architects Scott Witter and the firm of Hurdzan/Fry. Cherry Hill and Stafford are both Walter Travis layouts, both unique takes on land use, land forms, and green surfaces.
Chances are excellent that you’ll never have an opportunity to change the way your course looks. You do have the opportunity to learn what makes great courses better than good. Many of these are public tracks (Mark Twain in Elmira is an excellent Donald Ross course; Lafayette Hills in Syracuse is a wonderful A. W. Tillinghast layout,and the list goes on) that you can plan to visit. You’ll return to your beloved home course a bit wiser and a bit more knowledgeable.