Note: The USGA Museum is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
LIBERTY CORNER, NEW JERSEY | One of the best parts of the USGA Museum is its fine art collection, and it was from that trove of prints, paintings, drawings and sculptures that Rand Jerris, the association’s senior managing director of public services, curated an engaging new exhibition called “The Art of the Golf Course.” The idea, he says, was to show the different ways artists have depicted and interpreted the layouts on which the game has been played through the years. “And if we can provide different perspectives on golf in the process, so much the better,” says Jerris, a former director of the museum who was awarded a Ph.D. in art and archaeology from Princeton.
What makes the golf course such an interesting study in art in his mind is its unique standing as a field of play. “The Rules of Golf … are notably silent on the forms, dimensions and appearance of a golf course,” Jerris writes in an introduction to the exhibit. “It is left to the creativity and ingenuity of the golf course architect to provide the variety of features that will create playing interest and challenge as well as visual interest and beauty.”
The point is well taken. Golf courses are art. Tennis courts, curling rinks, polo fields and swimming pools not so much.
Opened last fall and scheduled to be displayed through August 2020, the exhibition features some 50 pieces. They represent a mere fraction of the museum’s fine art collection, which contains roughly 1,000 individual works. But they nonetheless give those with a passion for the sport and an interest in courses unique and compelling ways to appreciate them.
I enjoy a multitude of artistic media, and the ones that Jerris has used for this exhibit include several of my favorites. I especially liked a section he described as “the watercolorists.” A number of Golden Age course architects were quite adept at producing detailed watercolors of golf holes they intended to build “to inform and guide a construction crew,” the curator explains, and to “convey design intent” to clients. And I gravitated immediately to one A.W. Tillinghast had created for the Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y. I then lingered over equally enticing pieces that Chris Meadows and Harry Rountree had fashioned of courses in Scotland (at Routenburn) and England (Sheringham), respectively, thinking the whole time of how wonderful they would look hanging on the walls of my home office.
Want the complete story?Subscribe today at Global Golf Post+