Max Behr spoke of courses ‘uncontaminated by the hand of man’ and of natural courses that possess ‘a certain charm wholly lacking upon a palpable man-made golf course.’ C.B. Macdonald wrote in Scotland’s Gift that ‘When playing, you want to be alone with Nature. Glaring artificiality of any kind detracts from the fascination of the game.’ Later in the 1920s, hewrotewith regard to National Golf LInks of America that ‘the only thing that I do now is to endeavor to make the hazards as natural as possible.’
Thoughtheir wordscontain timeless truths, their message was lostduring the lastseveral decades of the 20th century.With bothequipment and money plentiful, courses became more and more landscaped. Man’s hand upon the property became heavyto the point where it wastooevident.
During the late 1980s and 1990s,there were afew architectsbucking the trend. Rather than over-stylizinga site, they were intent on following nature’slead and incorporating nature’s subtleties into their designs. The architect firm of Coore & Crenshaw was one such firm and as a result,time has proven them to be particularly successful in building courses that are reflective of their surrounds.
Of course, crucial to an architect that wishes to make the most ofthe land is a good piece of property.The opportunity to build a course from scratch in the desert replete with waterfalls, rolling hills, and imported mature evergreens is of minimal interest as they realize any suchattempt to replicate nature will yield a product that is adistant second to the real thing. Far preferable is a varied piece of property full of natural hazards. As Coore remembers thinking when he first got in the industry in the early 1970s, ‘in this business, you can’t ask for any more than a decent piece of property with some naturalfeatures and a principal who allows us to work.’
In theearly springof 1997, just such an opportunity presented itself when Ken Bakst invited Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to tour a 350 acre block of land outside of Riverhead onLong Island. In hindsight, it would prove to beCoore & Crenshaw’smost exciting piece of property since Sand Hills.