Jay Blasi: Is autocracy the best model for golf clubs?

When judging golf courses, people look at the setting, the design and the conditioning. Every hole goes under the microscope.

Another factor also should be considered: Does the ownership or governance structure of a course have a direct impact on how good the course is? The answer – acknowledging there are always exceptions – is yes.

Simply put, when it comes to great golf courses, autocracy works.

When trying to have a government of the people, by the people, for the people, democracy is championed as our best chance for success. But as many examples have shown, when trying to create, maintain or restore the best possible golf course, especially at a private club, there may be a better way.

For more than a century, many private clubs have tried the democracy route. They have organized themselves with a president, board of directors and various leadership committees. And in democratic tradition, these positions change regularly. In many instances the elected leaders serve a few years with their roles changing each year or two, as new faces on a green committee import fresh ideas and plans for change.

And for more than a century, course designers have cringed. The designers built great courses with a vision in mind, and even well-intended changes by green committees can erode their greatness.

Changes are often made for the sake of change. One committee member’s playing successes or failures can overtly impact decisions. Trees and flowers are planted where none should be. Holes are rerouted or lengthened without proper considerations of impact, altering the original designer’s intent. Some bunkers might be erased, while others are introduced to the great detriment of playing strategy. The list goes on and on.

“Millions and millions of dollars have been spent on golf courses, and millions more in changing them,” said Devereux Emmet, notable designer of many famed classic golf courses of the early 1900s. “Most of the mistakes have been made by club committees assisted by golf professionals.”

He wasn’t alone among famed golden-era designers in that opinion.


By: Jay Blasi
Title: Jay Blasi: Is autocracy the best model for golf clubs?
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/06/08/jay-blasi-is-autocracy-the-best-model-for-golf-clubs/
Published Date: Tue, 08 Jun 2021 13:00:12 +0000

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