Associate Dean of Hobart College Chip Capraro is sharing his passion for golf by teaching a Reader’s College, Golf Course Architecture: History and Theory, this semester. The course focuses on golf course history, architectural principles of design, and golf course architects themselves, utilizing a number of readings and two field trips. Capraro calls this method of study a “triangulation pedagogy,” in which his students read current thinking and analysis, original writings by classic designers, and gain hands-on, experiential learning on the golf course.
“Learning through reading is valuable, because you can educate yourself on a number of topics,” says Capraro. “But it can also be isolating. It’s much better to build a community around reading, to help those of us in the Readers’ College develop an interest, and foster a deeper appreciation, for golf and golf architecture.”
Readings include Tom Doak’s “The Anatomy of a Golf Course: The Art of Golf Architecture,” Alister Mackenzie’s “The Spirit of St. Andrews,” “Golf has never Failed Me” by Donald Ross, Pete Dye’s “Bury Me in a Pot Bunker,” David Owen’s “The Making of the Masters” and “Finger Lakes Golf Guide: History, Design, and Designers” by Jarlath Hamrock.
There will be two field trips, one to Mark Twain golf course in Elmira, designed by Donald Ross and another to Green Lake State Park, a Robert Trent Jones course in the Upstate New York region. “I chose these courses because they illustrate what’s ‘typical’ for each designer,” explains Capraro. “They’re public, accessible, and reflect the designers’ original intentions.”
Capraro is currently working on a book about the Finger Lakes and the history of golf in the region. A lifelong golfer, he continues to play locally and spends every Father’s Day on the golf course with his dad.