Teeing Up a New Game

Golf architects are getting creative in the lagging U.S. market--and building in flush foreign locales

The wild beauty of the Chambers Bay Golf Course in Pierce County, Wash., is obvious and abundant, a gorgeous canvas of mountain, sea and sky. As you begin to walk the course, a second natural element makes its presence known: the wind. It swirls and dips and then slaps you sideways, an "invisible hazard," as the course's architect, Robert Trent Jones Jr., likes to call it, mimicking the roughness of the stubbly Van Gogh--like landscape.

For Americans used to target golf on manicured greens, this links-style course is a different sport--more blustery St. Andrews than pristine Augusta. It's also a superintendent's...