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golf / GwilymS. Brown M ' New twists for an old art Extremely long, serpentine tees are just one of the original features that Golf Architect Desmond Muirhead is bringing to his distinctive courses |\/I ??viemaking has its underground, ?√ß * ?√ß the theater its absurd and art its pop. Today it is In to be far out, to such a degree, in fact, that even the tradition- al art of golf-course architecture is get- ting with it. One of the men most responsible for the new-wavemaking is Desmond Muir- head, a breezy Briton who sees nothing sacred in the standard rules of golf- course design and who already has dem- onstrated his resolve to break as many of them as possible. ?╟úGolf-course archi- tects have not had a new thought in 100 years,?╟Ñ he says. ?╟úMost courses being built today are nothing but imitations of imitations of imitations.?╟Ñ Muirhead has begun his fight against conformity by attacking what is perhaps the most cherished part of the modem golf course, the straight tee. To make a course interesting for golfers of varying strengths and skills, the current fashion is to build tees as long and straight as airport runways. This, in Muirhead?╟╓s view, is as ineffective as it is unattractive. A hole that plays well for a short hitter at 350 yards is not automatically just as fair and intriguing to the long hitter from another 100 yards farther back. Or vice versa. What Muirhead does is build the world?╟╓s longest tees, but not in a straight line. Instead he makes them wind like a country road around terrain features, thus providing golfers with genuine variety. For example, .Muir- head?╟╓s tee for the 15th hole of the mu- nicipal course he is remodeling for the city of Alameda, Calif, measures 300 yards from end to end, but it curves so sharply that it almost completely sur- rounds a long, narrow pond. The result is an imaginative par-3 hole that can be anything from a wedge shot over fair- way to a 210-yard wood over water. At his Soboba Springs course in Cali- fornia, Muirhead has built a par-3 around a pond for which the tee is shaped like a boomerang (below). The 14th hole of his Overlake Golf and Country Club course in Seattle has a Tong, angular pond that flanks the fair- way on the left and a tee that sprouts arms in several directions, creating a par-4 that can be played eight different ways. Muirhead designs other distinctive features for his courses as well. He likes to include numerous free-form lakes, and bunkers with curves that echo the turns of water hazards and woods as they slash in strange patterns across and beside fairways. His intention is to achieve an artistic sense of variety, one that applies not just from hole to hole, but on each hole from day to day. Muirhead, who is 43, officially joined the small world of golf architecture only four years ago. Bom in England and ed- ucated at Cambridge, the University of British Columbia and the University of Oregon, he was first a civil engineer, city planner and landscape architect. In 1962 he was invited by Paul Lough- ridge to build Capistrano Saddle Club, a real-estate development in California. In connection with that project he was asked to design the development?╟╓s main feature, a golf course. Though an expert on community planning and landscap- ing, he had qualms about building a golf course. ?╟úI was scared,?╟Ñ he confesses, ?╟úbut I had had a little experience, and decided to try it anyway. I began by making an inspection tour of many of the outstand- ing courses in the U.S. and Great Brit- ain, hoping to find that they all had some sort of mystique in common that would help me. Instead I discovered that they had no mystique whatsoever. So I began to evolve some ideas of my own. ?╟úThe real problem is that golf courses are not yet being treated as art forms. But they should be. Too often they are just accidents. That is what comes of letting ex-greenkeepers and ex-golfers do the design. If they get a good man to do the bulldozing they usually get a good golf course. If they don?╟╓t, they don?╟╓t. It is that simple. The current architects are all trying to imitate Robert Trent Jones and the late Dick Wilson. Fine men, of 52