Should every golf course contain a Mark di Suvero?

Today was a flying day.  We departed BED, stopped to pick up a friend at MMK (Meriden, CT), crossed the Hudson River and landed on the 12,000′ runway at Stewart Air Force Base (SWF).  We made a detour so that our artist friend (let’s call him E.A. for Extra Aesthetic) could see Bard College’s Gehry-designed auditorium from the air.  E.A. said “What’s great about metal buildings, if they’re sited well, is that they pick up interesting light and reflections at different times of day.”  After landing at SWF and taxiing among the C-5 cargo jet behemoths, we stopped at the Rifton general aviation gas station.  Guys came out to help us park and actually spread a red carpet on the tarmac.  We borrowed a  “crew car” (free) and headed over to the Storm King Art Center sculpture park.  Although it is only a 1-hour drive from Manhattan and it was a fine Saturday in May, the 500-acres of rolling hills was nearly deserted.  E.A. mentioned that they’d had some financial problems in the past and that sparked an idea:  the rolling hills that separated the sculptures from each other would also make for a fine, if challenging, golf course (with plenty of space in the bordering woods for the obligatory McMansions that accompany golf courses these days).

It became quickly apparent that this idea would not sell very well among people who take their sculpture seriously.  But what about the reverse idea?  The American landscape is being progressively uglified as golf courses supplant rustic farms and natural scenery.  In certain muncipalities there are requirements that people putting up office buildings spend a certain percentage of the total budget on art.  Why not have the same requirement for golf courses?  A golf course is a totally man-made landscape.  Why shouldn’t it be dotted with some interesting huge modern sculpture?  The presence of the pieces would add some additional hazards and challenge for the players.  There are plenty of living artists with cranes (e.g., Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, etc.) and there is a worldwide glut of steel.  If the golf nerds are absolutely committed to working only with natural materials, they could hire Andy Goldsworthy, whose wall at Storm King alone makes it worth the trip.

Any golfing readers care to comment, presumably from a position of greater expertise?

8 thoughts on “Should every golf course contain a Mark di Suvero?

  1. What about Ed Tufte’s Escaping Flatland sculpture? It seems like you can buy it online for $200,000 — a McSculpture!

  2. That would be too much like putt-putt golf. Also, I don’t know if the official rules of golf specifically mention works of art except as man-made obstacles. Then there is the obvious hazard to any non-playing visitors that may wander onto the course to see the sculptures and get plugged in the head by a flying Titleist.

  3. I would not mind sculpture gardens in the area between a green and the next tee, but I would not like to deal with these as extra hazards unless the design of the hole takes into account the sculpture (if the whole is designed from day one to include a certian piece, fine, but in an existing hole to me it is a big no-no). Also, course rangers are going to hurry people up between holes and they won’t have a chance to enjoy these works of art.

  4. It sounds like a cool idea. Obviously, I’m not a golfer.

    The sculptures need not interfere with the course, do they?

    And also, why do people presume that for the fact it’s modern, it has to be huge? It can be small and nice. Btw, check out this article, why it’s ok not to like modern art:,,7-672489,00.html

  5. Best to have them scattered near, but not on the course (between the McMansions, perhaps.

    That way, folks don’t think of it like mini-golf.


  6. Golf courses are the spiritual successors to the landscaped parkland which surrounds England’s greatest stately homes. And those, by tradition, are dotted not just with sculpture but with follies, obelisks and all manner of ornamental building. If golf courses are ever to achieve the aesthetic standards of Capability Brown, they must adopt and conteporise that tradition of ornamentation. Sculpture would be a great place to start.

  7. The Yale golf course has gnomes and the like in the edges of the woods lining the fairways – it could happen that your ball could lie at the feet of one of these little critters. The idea you rpesent is not that far fetched. In fact, I would say that it’s a short trip from earth-work art (a la Smithson and Turrell et al) to some of the more interesting course designs of recent years.

    My idea for a golfcourse is to start using less precious space. Urban golf. Brown fields (abandoned industrial sites) golf. No mucking up the pastoral landscape. There’s plenty of space and the game could be taken to a whole new level. Imagine being in say, Flint, Michigan, and your next shot needs to reach the top of a factory roof. Want to play your slice off that wall? No problem!

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