Looking for a good golf-related book? The NCG team have picked out their favourites in a number of categories


The best golf architecture books

The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses: Great Britain & Ireland (Tom Doak)

The original guide, written by Tom Doak for friends in the early 1990s, achieved notoriety for a bluntness about golf courses that was both withering and wry.

For those not well versed in the measures of strategic, penal and heroic holes, who might not necessarily be comfortable talking about topography, what this revised first volume does is break down, in quite simple terms, whether a course is worth playing or not.

That makes it a highly valuable travel guide, but Doak also discusses the architectural merits of each course featured and why certain holes – like the famous 1st tee at Machrihanish for example – came into being and are so special.

Time has blunted his sword to an extent, but when he feels a course isn’t worth playing he’s still not afraid to say so – cue his now infamous criticisms of the Castle course at St Andrews. That makes him a voice of truth in a cluttered marketplace.

So if you want to know where to play, and why, this book simply has to be among those on your golf shelf. SC

The Spirit of St Andrews (Alister MacKenzie)

Alister MacKenzie’s decision to swap medicine for golf course architecture can be linked to his strong conviction that golf had very real benefits for patients.

He famously said: “How frequently have I, with great difficulty, persuaded patients who were never off my doorstep to take up golf, and how rarely, if ever, have I seen them in my consulting rooms again!”

The man who started his design career at Alwoodley in Leeds and went on to create the likes of Augusta National, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne believed that the Old Course at St Andrews embodied everything that was significant about golf course architecture and here he explains its many virtues.

He also goes much further, sharing his own design principles and what it is that makes a course worth playing.

It’s all written in a digestible style, his language precise and free from jargon.

For anyone interested in scratching the surface of golf course architecture, and learning about one of the greatest designers in the game’s history, The Spirit of St Andrews is essential reading. DM

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