If you could only play the work of a course architect
question of the week [Sept. 19-25]: If you could only play on courses designed by one golf course architect, who would that architect be and why?
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Courses designed by Arthur Hills of Toledo, Ohio. Playable and fun courses for golfers of all levels.
Hands down, Mike Strantz.
He brought visual intimidation and creativity to golf. He was credited with eight courses, mostly in the east. Two in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and two in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Tot Hill Farm in Asheboro, NC and Tobacco Road in Pinehurst are two absolute gems. Bring your sense of humor. Sadistic golf at its finest.
The Villages, Florida
Alister MacKenzie. Beautiful, simple designs that don’t move a lot of dirt and are visually stunning. Pasatiempo – a little piece of paradise.
Stanley Thompson, one of the greatest of all time.
Pet Dye. Always seems to score well on his runs. My favorite is Purdue University [Kampen Course].
I would play the Donald Ross cartoons because they’re fair, usually not very long, and they’re plentiful and prevalent in every state. Some of my best parts have been on his courses.
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Tom Fazio, of course. Her classes are challenging, but playable, and all of them are beautiful. His mastery of the parks golf course is evident. A real treat to play any of his creations.
Palm Bay, Florida
An architect — Mike Stranz. His lessons are hard, fair and well thought out. Stand on any tee and you see everything, but you have questions. I don’t know of anyone who has built a better golf course. Caledonia Golf and Fish Club [Pawleys Island, South Carolina], especially the back nine; the raw beauty of the True Blue Golf Club [Pawleys Island]; Tot Hill Farm with its chiseled rock formations and roaming streams all the way to Tobacco Road, a course like no other. If you play it with an open mind, you’ll come away wondering what just happened and want to play again. It is unfortunate that his untimely death prevented other great projects.
Myrtle Beach, SC
I like the simplicity of his creations and the challenge of playing his courses. They look simple, but play hard. I am a member of the Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland. Ross was born in Dornoch and grew up working on the golf course. Once you play RDGC, you will understand the impact this course has had on every course it has designed. I think the second hole at RDGC is the best par 3 I have ever played. I am also a member of four Ross courses, including the last course he designed and built, the Raleigh Country Club. The 15th hole of the RCC is a short, uphill par 4. It’s a great example of how he used what I jokingly call “optical illusions”. There is a large bunker on the left side of the fairway which, from where most people hit their approach shot, appears to be next to the green. In fact, it is 20 yards in front of the green. Its placement makes the golfer think it is closer to the green than it is, causing most approach shots to fall short of the green.
Raleigh, North Carolina / Dornoch, Scotland
Donald Ross. I love playing Donald Ross courses as they are fair for all skill level players and can be a very severe test for the best players in the world. It seemed to use the natural terrain in its layouts.
Port St Lucie, Florida
Easy question: Tom Fazio. Why? The courses are very playable for all skill levels, but rewarding golf course management. Simply put, if you miss a fairway or green in the wrong place, you’ll struggle to make par. Right behind Fazio would be Donald Ross. For obvious reasons. You can play the country’s most historic tunes.
They are two great architects, AW Tillinghast and Alister MacKenzie. Both were accomplished designers and belong to the top five of all time. Ultimately, I chose MacKenzie because of his work specifically on three courses I’ve seen, but never played. Augusta National, Cypress Point and Crystal Downs are three great trails to say the least.
To quote a well-known writer, “There is no architect who has had such a complete understanding of the game. His lessons are not too penalizing, not too long. They are not easy. They are fun and exciting. It’s like a puzzle. You have to figure it out.” Augusta National has been puzzling the game’s best since 1932. The funny thing is, I just got back from playing one of Tillinghast’s gems, the Niagara Falls Country Club, which hosts the Porter Cup every year, he almost liked the fact that he designed more than 250 courses.
The Villages, Florida
Stanley Thompson would be my choice. Its best designs (St Georges, Kitchener Westmount, Highland Links) demonstrate classic/timeless design characteristics that stand the test of time on both the amateur and professional level. Stanley Thompson was as good as any designer in the past 100 years. The courses and superior strategic design speak for themselves.
My father, George Cobb. For instance; Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.
George Cobb Jr.
Western Columbia, South Carolina
Robert Trent Jones Sr.
I have always liked the courses designed by Mr. Jones with large greens, lots of bunkers and the natural contour of the land. Meeting him in the late 1970s at Tanglewood Park in North Carolina — two courses he designed — was a real pleasure. Knowing that I was Canadian, he asked me if I had ever played Kananaskis in Alberta, because it was one of his favorite projects.
He had an open budget from the Alberta Heritage Fund for the 36-hole design.
Seth Raynor was a master at routing fairways to improve sightlines and increase playability on terrain that was not optimal for a large 18 hole.
Roslyn Heights, New York
In the historical category, I would take AW Tillinghast. Clearly one of the greatest and your choices are endless. There is no better line-up in the United States.
In the Modern category, I would take David McLay Kidd. You can play on a variety of courses and play anywhere in the world. Who wouldn’t want a regular Bandon Dunes diet?
Fort Worth, TX
I would only play courses designed by Donald Ross.
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Las Vegas, Nevada
Donald Ross or Coore and Crenshaw. There is no trickery.
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