September 14, 2005

Anybody know anything about the Costa Verde in Brazil?

Top golf course architect Tom Doak has a fairly rich client who wants to create one of the best golf courses in world, and doesn't care where in the world Doak builds it for him. Ideally, it would be on an ocean or large lake. Doak has asked for suggestions. A long time ago, I flew from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro, and the 175 miles of island-strewn coastline in-between looked from the air like absolute paradise.

But, is the Costa Verde too mountainous for a good golf course? (Golf course are best suited to sand dunes or gently rolling hills, with, say, no more than 20 degree slopes. Mountainsides aren't good for golf -- it's fun to play down the mountain but a drag to play back up.) And are there any sand dunes there?

That reminds me of how Edmund Burke's distinction between the sublime and the beautiful applies to golf courses. The beautiful is some place conducive to human habitat -- meadows, valleys, slow moving streams, grassland intermingled with copses of trees, the whole English country estate shtick. The sublime is nature so magnificent that it could kill you, such as by you falling off a mountain or into a gorge.

Beautiful landscapes are most suited for building golf courses, since a golf course needs at least 100 acres of land level enough for a golf ball to come to rest upon. But golfers get a thrill out of the mock sublime, where you are in danger of losing not your life, but your mis-hit golf ball into a lake or canyon. One reason that Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula (above) is so legendary is because it combines sublime sea cliffs with beautiful (and thus functional for golf) rolling plains.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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