Thursday, December 21, 2017

Getting to Know: David McLay Kidd, Golf Course Architect

American Golfer: When did you start playing golf?
David McLay Kidd: Son of a Scottish greenskepper, so played golf before I can remember, probably at Glasgow Golf Club in Scotland, but really I took interest as a teenager while my father was in charge at Gleneagles in Scotland.

David McLay Kidd
AG: How did you become a golf course designer?
DMK: I loved to work on courses and I loved the history and creative aspects of golf design, as did my father, so I decided architecture was my path instead of maintenance like my father.

AG: Why did you choose a career in golf course design?
DMK: First construction project I worked on as an intern was a Johnny Miller design. I marveled at the latitude the builder had to be creative. I was hooked!

AG: In your opinion, have any design trends hurt the game?
DMK: Tiger proofing (guilty) and over manicuring (not guilty).

AG: How can we grow the game of golf?
DMK: It has to be fun again. Players need the opportunity to succeed ... not constant failure. Recovery from a bad shot should be possible ... not guaranteed, of course, but often possible.

AG: Do you have a specific design philosophy?
DMK: Lots. I could write a book on this question alone, but will sum it up by saying golf needs to be fun. Playability is key and can be achieved without sacrificing challenge. The two are not tied together.

AG: Of all the holes you’ve designed, do you have a favorite (why)?
DMK: Well, 16 at Bandon Dunes will forever be my calling card.

AG: What’s your “dream foursome” (living or dead, golfer or non-golfer)?
DMK: My father, my grandfather and Old Tom Morris.

AG: Is there a “bucket list” location in/on which to design?
DMK: Long Island, N.Y., South America, Florida somewhere (Streamsong would be nice!)

AG: What is the future of golf course design?
DMK: Less courses, more remodels, better design, less real estate, great sustainability.

Bonus Question
AG: Assuming equipment remains the same, what can a golf course architect do to protect today's courses or design future courses without approaching 8,000 yards?
DMK: The answer is one no one wants to admit ... you can’t have a single course playable for mortals and challenging to Tour players. When you try, and it's not 8,000 yards long, you end up with penal design, tight fairways and severe greens. The public doesn’t love such courses on a day-to-day basis. I told a developer the other day that I’d rather satisfy the masses than win critical acclaim from the magazines and pros!

Learn more about David McLay Kidd and his work at

Originally posted 11/10/16

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