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If you have ever fancied yourself a golf course architecture aficionado then you should buy a copy of Keith Cutten’s new book. Cutten, a golf course architect, has recently published The Evolution of Golf Course Design and the book is quickly becoming the latest must-have addition to any golf library. His book is a thorough and well-composed narrative that traces the history of golf and how its courses are built. This comprehensive guide to golf design is packed with well-presented information and is an incredibly compelling read.
The Evolution of Golf Course Design has been a prolonged labor of love for the author. Keith Cutten is a golf course architect who has come up in the industry under the tutelage of names like Rod Whitman, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, Dave Axland, and Jeff Mingay. During his many years working with some of golf’s most talented designers, Cutten has developed one of the most extensive understandings of the history of golf course architecture. Cutten has curated that knowledge into a marvelous book that beautifully depicts the fullest possible picture of a previously unconnected history of the subject matter.
Keith Cutten may be a new name to many who are reading this, but his book has quickly elevated his reputation in the closely followed ranks of golf course architecture authors. The Evolution of Golf Course Design has been greeted with great fanfare on social media and has received glowing reviews from some of golf’s most prominent architects and influencers. Cutten’s work is one of the more spectacular debut books to enter the golf market in recent memory. After reading it, I project that the book will become a treasured possession of golfers for many years to come.
What began as a graduate school thesis for the author has now become the talk of golf nerds everywhere. The Evolution of Golf Course Design was one of the hottest selling golf items online this past Christmas and there is already a waiting list for the next batch. Keith Cutten sold out of his initial run of the book in only a couple of weeks and there are many more set to ship out in the new year. Amazingly, the successful marketing of the book has primarily been through word of mouth via the affectionate praise of regular contributors to what many call “golf Twitter.”
Every day there are thousands of golf fans participating in an ongoing conversation about golf and its many facets on Twitter. In recent months the niche world of golf course architecture has occupied an increasingly large segment of those online discussions. Keith Cutten began the work on his book five years ago, but there was no way to know that it would be so timely when he was ready to release it. There is an old saying about whether it’s better to be lucky or good and as Cutten can attest it isn’t bad being both. His book has quickly become a cult sensation for the throngs of golfers who have flocked to the study of golf course architecture in recent years.
Any discussion about golf course architecture, whether in an online forum or a country club grill room, is filled with the names of courses and designers from history. To educate oneself on these matters requires a large investment of time, energy, and effort. The history of these matters has been largely scattered across a variety of books, websites, and casual conversations until now. Cutten has delivered a book that traces the story of golf through its most important courses and the men who built them. Finally, this knowledge is in one place and it consists of a comprehensive history laid out in the most beautiful of fashions.
Even though Cutten’s new book is so easily digestible the author will be the first to tell you that the book is a reflection of laborious study in the field of golf course architecture. In fact, Cutten’s entire life has been occupied by an obsession with golf and the courses in which the game is played. Cutten comes from a family of golfers that originated in England and both his father and grandfather helped to create a love for the game and a deep appreciation for nature. Those attributes led to Cutten entering the fields of landscape design, but he always had his eye on golf.
Cutten got his start in golf course design after a letter-writing campaign landed him an introduction to architect Rod Whitman. Cutten worked alongside Whitman on projects like Cabot Links in Nova Scotia and found his calling. His career has not been without speedbumps though. When the Great Recession brought an abrupt stop to most golf projects around the world, Cutten decided to go back to school. It was in his return to academic settings where the first pages of his eventual book were written.
Cutten developed the primary thesis for his program of study as a way to fill in the gaps of the scattered knowledge of the history of golf design. Cutten saw that there were patterns of change over time, but no one had created a historical narrative to show why the methods and styles of golf design had changed and who was responsible for those shifts. To document his research Cutten developed massive timelines in his basement office that included the names of golf’s most impactful course architects, major course developments, and important events in world history that may have affected those projects. After two years of work, the picture began to become clear and Cutten knew he may have more than just a thesis for school but also a full-blown book.
Cutten’s journey to publishing The Evolution of Golf Course Design did not end when he turned in his thesis. There were still many long nights of research and writing ahead and luckily he had a supportive wife to help him stay the course. When Cutten finally finished the book after five years of work and the first box of prints arrived both he and his wife cried. As Cutten says, “the book was a team effort and to be honest my best work happened when my wife was in the room.” Cutten equates the emotions of seeing the final product to meeting a newborn child for the first time.
Cutten says that seeing the book for the first time was one of his proudest moments. “To certainly hold it…a final collection of my work expressed through a tireless dedication to details was incredible. If it wasn’t perfect I wasn’t going to print. It’s here and I know I finished the work.” Cutten was aided in the production of the book by Paul Daley and Full Swing Golf Publishing. Cutten is quick to point out the importance of Daley’s assistance. After a year and half of editing with Daley the book arrived at Cutten’s home and was finally ready to sell.
Cutten is not a marketing guru by trade, but watching how he has crafted his sales pitch for the book on social media has been quite impressive. Cutten has spent many hours both teasing out elements of the book and answering tweets and other messages about its contents. By the time the book was ready to sell Cutten had activated a hungry target market for his product. The first run of 600 books sold out well before Christmas.
Cutten is one of the great examples of how modern writers are having to work in very independent and entrepreneurial ways to make their work profitable. Cutten is a subject matter expert with an incredible book to sell, but he is also a talented marketer and is savvy on social media. In today’s world that is the kind of talent stack that is required to be an author.
Keith Cutten is an entrepreneur in every way. His career as a golf architect is on track to be continually successful and the phones are increasingly ringing for his services. In 2019, Cutten will be headed back to Cabot Links with architects Rod Whitman and Dave Axland to build a par 3 short course there. In addition to that work, he will be turning dirt for renovations at Brantford Golf and Country Club (4th oldest course in North America) and The Glencoe Golf and Country Club. The author and architect has a budding reputation for bringing the same attention to detail to his design work that he has to his voluminous book on the history of golf design.
Cutten’s new book is certainly a spectacular documentation of golf course architecture and the many names who have shaped its history. Every fan of the topic should be sure to purchase and read The Evolution of Golf Course Design. The book should be viewed as the foundation of any understanding of golf course architecture and a must-have companion to any collection of golf books.