Thursday, May 19, 2016

Course Architects are one of Golf's Problems

The course I grew up and still play most of my golf on was 9 holes when I started. In the mid-70’s additional land was purchased and it expanded to 18 holes. A subsequent land purchase lengthened the course and took it to a par 72 (greatly compromising my ability to break 80 I might add). I still like playing the course for obvious reasons, but I’ve also remarked that the club should’ve sued the final course architect for malpractice.

I offer up two examples of where I think the architect lost the plot. The left half of the tenth green is narrow with a severe slope and has a bunker directly in front of it. Now I can, or could back in the day, hit a wedge into the green so it was fair enough for me. If I was above the hole or well to the right….well I’ve hit a bad shot. But the average member can’t go for the pin when it’s placed on this side and actually hit the green without extraordinary luck and from the middle of the green they are looking at a very difficult two putt. I mean very difficult as in I’ve played Pinehurst 2 a number of times and these greens are more difficult to putt.

The sixteenth is a par 5 dogleg to the right with a creek that limits how far the drive can go. The second, layup shot has to go up an incline over mounds and bunkers and find a thin slice of fairway. Anything that lands short of the fairway stays in the rough, go through the fairway at all (and I mean at all) and trees block your way to the pin if it is on the top portion of the green. Older members can’t clear the bunkers which are in the way even to get to a point where their third shot is 150 yards long. So the bunkers, which aren’t much of an impediment for the best players ,force the seniors to hit a layup shot which takes them out of range to reach the green with their third.

Mind you this is a small town course with a pretty strong golf tradition, but also a mostly older membership. We aren’t talking about the type of course which is well stocked with scratch and one handicappers and produces state amateur champions.

All of which brings me to this quote from an article on the sociologist Nathan Glazer who, among other things was critical of modern architecture (the buildings kind):

“contemporary artists and architects ‘do not find it easy to celebrate the common ideals and emotions of the community. It is more likely that they will celebrate themselves…Of course, any art requires some considerable assertion of the individual ego. But at the same time, great art, and certainly a great monument, requires the artist to give himself up to the constraints and demands of the task at hand.’”
One of the great problems facing golf to my mind is that too many architects have built courses without the actual users in mind. We have courses which are built with the best player in mind because those are the designs that are celebrated. And, if they are famous and look right, average players want to play them too…at least once or twice. But members are playing their course not once or twice but repeatedly and the object should be to design and build courses which fit the skill, or lack thereof, of the members.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Art Mirrors Reality, Again

An article in San Francisco Chronicle about a letter from Cassady to Kerouac that will go on auction and is likely to fetch a million dollars. The thought to be lost letter has it seems been the subject of legal wrangles over its ownership since it resurfaced. In the third to last paragraph there’s this:

It could have been a positive thing for everybody,” McQuate said, “but Spinosa tried to take all the credit and all the money.”

Which instantly reminded me of Sylvester, the surfer dude from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World:

“You could have taken a fair share like the rest of us, but no. You just had to go and grab up the whole scene baby.”

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

For Republican Officeholders; How to Answer the Trump Endorsement Question

Professional politicians should be far better at this than I am or wish to be. But as so many are failing, here are a couple of suggestions to political officeholders as how to answer the question of Trump support:

1. The endorsement/non-endorsement:  As a Republican I have in the past always supported the Party's nominee.
2.  The Modified Buckley:   As a Republican, the presumption is always to support the Republican nominee.

Note, that answers #1 and #2 here are not actual endorsements. If pressed the politician can always insist that he’s answered the question and wishes to move on, or feign humility by stating that the public probably doesn’t care what he thinks and that he doubts Trump's prospects hinge on his endorsement.

3.  The Early Voting Issue:  Use the question as a jumping off point to critique early voting. Note that Trump isn't actually the nominee yet and that the general election isn't until November. Close by stealing from a colleague of mine who in a different context remarked "I reserve the right to get smarter." If pressed, insist again that there is no rush and therefore no reason to relinquish your right to get smarter.

Donald Trump, and Having to Play a Very Bad Hand

I'm noticing lately, a bit of sympathy insinuating its way into my thought for unlikely characters.

For example, Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus. At least among many of those I follow on Twitter, Reince is getting killed for supporting Donald Trump. But what honestly is he supposed to do? He is the party chairman and Trump is the party’s presumptive nominee. It’s either stated or implicit that at the top or very near it of his job’s objectives is to get the party’s nominee elected to the presidency. And the party chairman is more grocery clerk sent to collect a bill than philosophical head of the party. Reince, in short, is just doing his job (which is the most one can say for him).

Or consider Trump’s opponents in this election who are now endorsing him to some extent or another. My guess is that these endorsements are mostly based on a 2020 calculation. Candidate X is running through the following:
- I gave my word during the debates to support the nominee [see, this is why you don’t answer silly questions]

- When I’m the party’s nominee in 2020 I’m going to want the whole party behind me.

- How will I answer the inevitable George Stephanopoulos question as to why everyone should get behind me after he rolls the tape of me NOT supporting Donald Trump?

- The #NeverTrump people seem to think that in short order anyone who supported Trump will be toxic within the Republican Party. Why? What other moments of epistemic clarity can they point to that supports this belief?

And so—perhaps just like Tessio—they end up supporting Trump because it’s the smart move.

The senators and reps are making the same calculation and arriving at the same conclusion. They can’t change things in Washington if they don’t win, and they can’t feel good about winning if Trump’s supporters don’t vote for them. And so we witness what we’ve witnessed.
But it does raise the question of how Trump managed to lose money with a casino. Because if there is one thing that has become clear in this cycle it is that Donald Trump has mastered the art of dealing everyone else a very bad hand to play.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Republican Politicians and Rusher's Gap

This afternoon it was reported that former Texas Governor Rick Perry made public that he would support Donald Trump. Shortly after on there was the following tweet:

Phineas Fahrquar ‏@irishspy:

It bears repeating: "Politicians will always disappoint you. Always."

In short order I thought of Rusher’s Gap, a concept that was shared in William F. Buckley book or column that I can no longer place. The aforementioned Rusher is Bill Rusher the long time publisher of National Review. Rusher’s Gap goes like this:

Suppose you need some work done on your house. You call in a contractor or two and get an estimate of what it will cost. Let’s say the estimate is $10,000. But you’re a wise man of the world, you know the actual cost is going to be higher so you make what we might term a cynic’s adjustment and tack on say another $2,000. Rusher’s Gap is the amount that the actual cost exceeds your revised, adjusted cost estimate.

Yes, you and I know that politicians will always disappoint. But for conservatives, the Rusher’s Gap this cycle has really been something to behold.

A Comment on Jonah Goldberg's; Denationalizing Our Politics

In a column/post yesterday Jonah Goldberg gives us a glimpse into a new book from Yuval Levin arguing for a more decentralized politics. As someone who came into the conservative fold after hearing James Buckley’s A Plea for a Return to Federalism I’m sympathetic to the idea.

But my thinking and reading since that speech has led me to conclude, that however fine the idea, the emphasis was/is a mistake. Arguing for decentralization confuses cause for effect or put differently it ignores that in politics as in modern architecture, form follows function.

It was Michael Oakeshott who argued that our politics were dominantly enterprise association and rationalist. As anyone who has been in a decentralized business knows, the pull to the center is constant and never resisted for very long (usually the first hint of trouble). As to rationalist politics, Oakeshott defined it as “the politics of perfection and of uniformity” and noted that circumstances—the unique conditions that would argue for a decentralized approach—“are for the rationalist to be overcome, not accommodated.”

In short, decentralized politics is a fine idea but to bring it about you have to target its rationalist/enterprise association underpinnings.