Recommended Reads: Great Golf Course Architecture Books

One of the most common questions I get asked is what are some good golf course architecture (GCA) books. I have put together a list of books that I have read/plan to read and little bit about each.

If you are looking to get into architecture, the first place I recommend starting is our Golf Course Architecture 101 series.

Some starter books

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The Anatomy of a Golf Course
Tom Doak

One of today's forefront architects details all of the aspects of golf course design. The topics range from drainage and construction to the psychology of design and how it affects players. After reading this book, readers will have a good grasp of the thought and challenges of building a golf course. One of my favorite aspects of this book is how Tom uses sketches to illustrate his points.

Purchase on Amazon

Grounds for Golf
Geoff Shackelford

Meant to be a primer on the subject of golf course architecture, Grounds for Golf, will arm readers with a solid basis of subject knowledge. Shackelford dives into the history of GCA and explains the basics with the help of illustrations from Gil Hanse.

Purchase on Amazon

Books for those on the cusp of obsessed

Methods of Early Golf Course Architecture: Volumes I & II

These books are fantastic. They are quick excerpts from some of the Golden Age's greatest architects. These books are cheap and a great way to build an introductory knowledge base on subjects. The excerpts come from: C.B. Macdonald, Alister Mackenzie, George Thomas, Robert Hunter, H.S. Colt and A.W. Tillinghast.

Purchase Volume I & Volume II on Amazon

The Spirit of St. Andrews
Dr. Alister Mackenzie

You can find a good portion of this book in the Methods of Early Golf Course Architecture but the book in its entirety is a must. It gives you an inside look at the principles and ideas of arguably the greatest architect ever.

Purchase on Amazon

Tom Doak's Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture
Tom Doak

As someone with a mild case of attention deficit disorder, I love this book. It is a collection of excerpts from Tom Doak's posts on architecture forum Golf Club Atlas. Topics range from specific golf courses to guiding golf course architecture principles. This book is enjoyable for a beginner or an expert, but I would recommend building a basis of GCA knowledge before reading.

Purchase this book on Tom Doak's website here.

Couldn't have said it any better. Very much enjoyed @doakgolf 's Little Red Book of Golf Course Architecture

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Geoff Shackelford's array of GCA books...

The Art of Golf Design
Michael Miller & Geoff Shackelford

Masters of the Links: Essays on the Art of Golf and Course Design
Geoff Shackelford

The Golden Age of Golf Course Design
Geoff Shackelford

Few authors have written as much on the subject of golf course architecture as Geoff Shackelford. Of the books I have read, I particularly like The Art of Golf Course Design. It layers Michael Miller's beautiful artwork with Shackelford's immense subject knowledge.

Purchase The Art of Golf Design on Amazon

Purchase Masters of the Links on Amazon

Purchase The Golden Age of Golf Course Design on Amazon

Golf has Never Failed Me
Donald Ross

America's most prolific architect Donald Ross' autobiography. I found this book because of Riley Johns recommendation on the podcast and really enjoyed it. Ross breaks down the different facets of a golf course in a quick, concise and witty tone.

Purchase on Amazon

Books for the obsessed

Sand and Golf
George Waters

As the title suggests this book dives into the relation of sandy soil and spectacular golf sites. George Waters is a spectacular golf course architecture mind. In Sand and Golf, his writing is accompanied by brilliant photography.

Purchase on Amazon

The Evangelist of Golf
George Bahto

One of the toughest books to get your hands on is the Evangelist. This book goes into detail on the work of C.B. Macdonald, his template holes and courses.

Purchase via eBay or other secondary markets

The Links
Robert Hunter

I haven't read this one yet but it's on my short list. I have heard from some fellow GCA nuts that Hunter has an incredible tone and unique way of explaining principles.

Purchase on Amazon

The Nature Faker
Wayne Morrison

Possibly the most detailed book I have ever come across, written by Philadelphia area golf course enthusiasts. If you want to be an expert on the great William Flynn, I highly recommend checking out this 2200+ page e-book. You can purchase The Nature Faker by sending Wayne Morrison an email at

I have left off a few others that I have yet to read but as I get to them I will continue to update this list. Enjoy!


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