Because they're almost all attached to some sort of business operation, it's easy to look at a golf course primarily as a commercial entity: something to be used for the purpose of satisfying the desire to play. But a golf course is an object of art, too. It's a niche genre - a particular sort of interactive sculpture - but as with other art forms, making some inquiry beyond the surface level can be rewarding.
That's the statement being made by the USGA, via their "The Art of the Golf Course" exhibition, which has been open since last September and continues through this coming August at the organization's museum, located at its Liberty Corner, N.J. headquarters about 40 miles west of New York City. Through paintings, sketches, photography and sculpture, it probes at the art value of golf course design. There is also a historical element to the exhibition, with items like an early-20th century camera used to photograph several American courses in the 1980s, a project bridging two eras in the game's history; and a sketch by architect A.W. Tillinghast during the development of Fenway Golf Club in Scarsdale, N.Y., one of his masterpiece courses. Sketches of outlandish concepts for golf holes by eccentric late-20th-century architect Desmond Muirhead are also on display.
If you live in the Tri-State area, or your winter travels take you up that way, note that the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am until 5 pm. Admission is $10; $5 if you're a USGA member already.