These course architecture reads are worthy of any golf bookshelf

Seminole Golf Club
The third hole at the Donald Ross-designed Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla.

The First Call asked contributors Bradley Klein and Joe Passov, who know a few things about golf course architecture, for their must-read recommendations on the topic.

The First Call asked Joe Passov and Bradley Klein, a pair of contributing writers who have written extensively about course architecture through the years, what handful of books would they consider must-reads on the subject.


"The Architects of Golf" | Geoffrey Cornish and Ron Whitten 
Comment: A basic overview with an invaluable index of hundreds of designers profiled and thousands of design credits attributed.

"The Architectural Side of Golf" | H.N. (Herbert Newton) Wethered and T. (Tom) Simpson
Comment: Simpson's drawings alone make this book a must-read. The account of British courses is the most detailed ever offered.

"Discovering Donald Ross" | Bradley S. Klein
Comment: A scholarly, readable exploration of one great architect's life and work.

"Golf Architecture in America" | George C. Thomas Jr.  
Comment: The single best classic-era account of the craft, with fascinating drawings and Golden Age photographs. 


Editor's Note: While Passov wholeheartedly agreed with Klein's list, describing it as the "Mount Rushmore of golf architecture books," he added a few others that are well worth a read.

"The Links" | Robert Hunter
Comment: Comes close to George Thomas' book for completeness regarding classic-era design, with opinions, explanations, drawings and photos. He would become Alister MacKenzie's collaborator soon after this was published. It had a great influence on Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and Arthur Hills, among others.

"Golf Course Architecture: Design, Construction and Restoration" | Dr. Michael J. Hurdzan
Comment: A near-perfect textbook on the process and philosophy of golf course design. 

"Golf Course Design" | Robert Muir Graves and Geoffrey S. Cornish
Comment: Hewn from a series of lectures the two presented, it's another A-Z "how-to" and "why" in architecture, just not as elaborately presented as Hurdzan's book.

"Golf by Design" | Robert Trent Jones Jr.
Comment: Subtitled "How to Lower Your Scores by Reading the Features of a Course," it was intended to reach the market as a game-improvement book. In truth, it's a very accessible guide to understanding architecture without getting bogged down in textbook-style detail.