Golf is one of the world’s greatest games. It is, for that matter, known as “the greatest game ever played.” Next to football (or soccer as it’s known in the U.S.), golf’s fans number more than any other sport across the world. Fans know their favorite golfer. They know their favorite course. But how many golfers and fans know the history behind the game’s most legendary courses, or of those individuals that built them? Now thanks to PBS, fans and players of all ages can learn that history in the new special, “Golf’s Grand Design.”
North Carolina’s PBS affiliate, UNC-TV, will air this special tomorrow night, August 3rd at 10pm. Those who miss it can still order it online next Tuesday, August 7th at http://www.shoppbs.org.
“Golf’s Grand Design” is an excellent starting point for fans and golfers of all ages and experience levels. It clocks in at just under an hour. That’s not counting the closing credits. It starts in the sport’s earliest recorded history in Scotland. The narrator notes that before Scotland, golf’s roots are unknown.
The very first course featured in this special is, of course, St. Andrews. The program’s narrator notes that this was the very first modern golf course. From here, the special does something very smart. Rather than merely jump from course to course and from architect to architect, each architect and course’s segment is preceded by a quote from the architect to be featured. This lets viewers know which architect is going to be featured. Kudos to PBS and all involved with bringing the special to life for assembling the program in this manner. Viewers will learn about the history not only of each architect, but of how each one built his course(s), including his motivation behind building each one in its given form. Among the many architects featured in the show are: Charles Blair McDonald, David Ross, and Robert Trent Jones among many others.
In learning how each architect came to build his course(s), viewers will see a rather interesting process. They will see how golf courses have come full circle from the simple to the grandiose and back to simple again. The best explanation of this movement comes from a pair of sound bites run early on in the show. One of the individuals interviewed exclaims of golf, “Half the experience is sharing the time with friends.” Another noted that “It’s about the exploration of a piece of land.” Both statements echo a similar mindset. That mindset is that what makes golf great isn’t how grandiloquent a course is. What it great is the simple experience of being on the links. It’s about being with friends and being one with the game and with the course. This is the mindset that makes the game great. It’s the mindset that will always make gold the greatest game ever played, and that will always make its many courses just as great.
As a reminder, “Golf’s Grand Design” will air on North Carolina’s PBS affiliate, UNC-TV, tomorrow, Friday August 3rd at 10pm. The DVD will be available next Tuesday, August 7th. It can be ordered online at http://www.shoppbs.org.
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