The rarest and perhaps most pitiful category of golfer (some would describe it as insufferable) is the golf course architecture fanatic. No one has ever been able to explain why a small number of irretrievably corrupted souls happen to gravitate toward golf courses and architecture above all other parts of the game, but all I can say is, we’re born this way. Even most of the fine people working at Golf Digest don’t really understand us.
The nature of my particular affliction goes back to my youth when I would check out and re-check out from the library the World Atlas of Golf and Golf Digest’s books on the 100 Greatest Golf Courses. Other kids my age had posters of Magic Johnson hanging in their rooms and hats signed by John Elway; I had magazine spreads of Pebble Beach and wanted Ron Whitten’s autograph.’
I began writing about golf courses and golf design in the early 2000s, and some of my most exciting moments during those early years happened when I could get an architect on the phone for an interview, like I’ve done below, usually someone I’d only previously read about in a magazine. A real celebrity, in other words. That old thrill of talking about golf courses with the people who create them—about landforms and architectural ideas and golf course histories—has never left.
Myself and Golf Digest is now bringing to you what I started in 2017 with my “Feed the Ball” podcast, named for the concept of maneuvering shots along the ground and using slopes to guide the golf ball into position—the marriage of earth, creativity and control that lies at the heart of the game. You get to hear those discussions I value most. My guests have included architects, shapers, historians and media figures, and we’ve engaged in casual, long-form conversations about all aspects of golf and design. I’m also proud that these episodes form a kind of collective archive that preserves the thoughts and words of fascinating figures.
With “Feed the Ball,” I hope to connect readers and listeners to an even larger world of people, places and stories. Working with Golf Digest, a lifelong ambition, provides a way to reach a far greater audience of potential enthusiasts.
The paradox of architectural passion is that the more golf courses you play and learn about, the more the affliction intensifies. Architecture has a beautifully corrupting, compounding effect. “Feed the Ball” may even turn some of you into one of us.
For the first episode I will share with Golf Digest readers, I bring to you someone who worked with Pete and Alice Dye for years, Scot Sherman. Like so many other contemporary designers, Sherman got his start in the profession working with Pete and Alice, as well as their son Perry Dye, in the early 1990s. Later, he joined the Florida-based firm of Bobby Weed, an integral member of the extended Dye “family,” where he helped design and oversee the construction of numerous elegant and thought-provoking courses, both new builds and major remodels.
Sherman currently works for Mark and Davis Love III at Love Golf Design, with whom he’s orchestrated significant artistic overhauls of the Atlantic Dunes course at Sea Palms, and the Plantation Course at Sea Island, a course that traces its lineage back to Walter Travis. The company’s current projects include the new Birdwood Course at Boar’s Head Resort near Charlottesville, and an innovative reworking of the Belmont course in Richmond for the First Tee of America, which entails the restoration of twelve A.W. Tillinghast holes plus the creation of a flexible six-hole short course and practice center.
Sherman joins myself on the podcast to discuss these projects, going face-to-face with wild animals, discovering his love for architecture in church, the “Greenville (South Carolina) School of Architecture,” trying to understand the way Pete Dye’s mind worked, and how modern technology disrupts the task of creating courses and set-ups that can challenge Tour players.