American Society of Golf Course Architects leaders provide perspective on Old Course modifications

Varied opinions among ASGCA members; no formal statement from organization

BROOKFIELD, Wis. – In-progress changes to the Old Course at St. Andrews has led to thoughtful and passionate discussion among golfers and industry leaders. The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) Executive Committee, recognizing the varied opinions of ASGCA’s 180 members, will not make a formal statement on ASGCA’s behalf concerning the project taking place in Scotland.

ASGCA leaders applaud the heartfelt views exhibited on all sides by those who appreciate the unique place in golf history earned by the Old Course, as well as the discussion this has generated on a number of issues facing the game of golf.

“The Old Course holds a special place for all golfers, whether they have played there before or continue to have it on their personal ‘bucket list,’” said ASGCA President Bob Cupp. “The level of discussion in recent days is remarkable, and ASGCA is glad to help provide a forum for these opinions.”

The ASGCA website,, is already featuring individual opinions from ASGCA members on all aspects of the changes and how they impact the game and its history. The official ASGCA magazine, “By Design,” will also share opinions and comments in its upcoming issues.

Following are some personal opinions of ASGCA leaders:

ASGCA President Bob Cupp: “Pitting current competition against history cannot have an answer, only controversy. In essence, are those who play the game today more relevant than those who played it? Golf’s incredible appeal has spurred technology to the point that the size of the game has outgrown its most treasured venues.

“The question becomes: ‘Do we preserve the truly historic nature of our most ‘sacred’ venues at all costs, or make adjustments allowing for the entertainment aspect of identifying the best player?”

ASCGA Vice President Rick Robbins: “It appears in this case the Old Course’s decision makers sought out and worked with a respected architect, one of the most respected in Europe as I understand. The hope we have is that people who love the game work together to balance the varied interests of everyone involved. That is the same relationship ASGCA members strive for with course owners – and the goal they set for the projects they work on – around the world every day.”
ASGCA Treasurer Lee Schmidt: “Golf course renovation has been happening for as long as golf courses have been being created. But renovation and restoration activity has increased in recent decades as innovation has increased in the game. Not just balls and clubs but also maintenance equipment and practices, which affects how architects can design – and what players and clients expect. No debate about innovation in the game should take place without examining this issue.”

ASGCA Secretary Steve Smyers: “I understand and appreciate both sides of this discussion. Those who recommend the changes have a mission to preserve the integrity of The Open, the oldest and what many consider the most prestigious championship in the game. These individuals are not only insightful; they also have a passion for the Old Course.

“It is my firm belief that as designers of the playing fields of the great game of golf, we must design to the modern players, conditions and standards if we are to have relevant championships on our courses.”

ASGCA Past-President Rick Phelps: “The changes being made at the Old Course are certainly going to be well documented. So, if they prove to be detrimental to the charm, character, playability, strategy, and all of the other elements that make a golf course a masterpiece, they can be removed and restored to the previous condition with a high degree of accuracy.”

ASGCA leaders are available for interviews on this and other topics. Contact Marc Whitney at (262) 786-5960 or to schedule an interview. Follow continued discussion among ASGCA members on this topic at

ASGCA Background

Founded in 1946 by 14 leading architects, the American Society of Golf Course Architects is a non-profit organization comprised of experienced golf course designers located throughout the United States and Canada. Members have completed a rigorous two-year long application process that includes the peer review of four representative golf courses. The average ASGCA member has spent nearly 30 years as a golf course architect, designing 42 new 18-hole courses and has worked on or consulted on nearly 150 projects in eight different countries around the world.

For more information about ASGCA, including a current list of members, log on to the ASGCA website at or call (262) 786-5960.


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