SEWANEE, Tenn. – As a retired Episcopal minister, King Oehmig has spent a lifetime delivering a message of salvation.
So when he talks about what architect Gil Hanse’s renovation of the University of the South’s golf course will mean to this 1,500-student liberal-arts school on Monteagle Mountain, Oehmig (pronounced EM-ig) takes on an air of a revivalist.
“It has turned out to be an incredible revamp,” said Oehmig, who earned a doctorate in divinity from the school popularly known as Sewanee after having played golf at Virginia in 1969-73. “It’s one of the great stories not only in golf but in American golf.”
Golf historians might blanch at such fire-and-brimstone praise of an out-of-the-way nine-holer. But Sewanee dreamed big with this renovation, which will open to alumni for a June 7-8 tournament before welcoming public play June 9.
“Sewanee is such a unique fit,” Oehmig said. “It’s like Oxford in Appalachia, kind of out in the middle of nowhere.”
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Nature and religion have nurtured students at the University of the South since the school’s 1857 founding by the Episcopal Church. The 13,000-acre campus, dotted with buildings of locally mined sandstone, serves as a living ...
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. - Nearly a century ago, Donald Ross applied the final touches to his new course at Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club.
Having spent much time in North Carolina’s Sandhills – notably for his work at nearby Pinehurst – Ross was familiar with the sandy ground, wiregrass and tall, slender pines that define golf courses in the region.
In the ensuing years, some of those features had lost their distinctiveness at Mid Pines. Thanks to a significant restoration started late last year, the course’s early 20th-century look is back.
Kyle Franz, a course architect and shaper, was brought in to rebuild bunkers, restore original green contours and replace fairway rough with the hardpan sand and wiregrass that was part of Ross’ original 1921 design.
“What struck me looking at a lot of Sandhills golf courses was the beautiful sweep of the landscape, the sandy soils and the potpourri of colors you get,” said Franz, who has worked with such A-list designers as Tom Doak, Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and Gil Hanse. “The burnt orange of the sand and the pine needles and the sun-light at certain times of day is a dynamic you don’t get anywhere in ...
The last time they added a bunker to the Old Course at St. Andrews, the only social media around to report the news were telegraph and radio. This time around, Twitter, Facebook and golf architecture websites lit up like switchboards.
Based on the scale of such renovations, the proposed work will be pretty low-key. But the surprise news struck more than a few observers as if someone were painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Or profaning sacred, previously untouched ground.
If not untouched, then not touched much. After all, the watercolor map that Alistair MacKenzie drew of the course in March 1924 (it looms over every word I write about golf courses) remains a relevant and largely accurate depiction of the Old Course – far more accurate than any other map from that era of any other championship course.
According to the St. Andrews Links Trust, the management agency responsible for day-to-day operations of all seven municipal courses at St. Andrews, work on the world’s most famous links, begun at the time of the announcement Nov. 23 and to continue next winter, will affect these holes:
• No. 2, par 4: reposition two greenside bunkers closer to right edge of ...
BOLTON, Mass. – The International Golf Club & Resort’s Pines Course will host the inaugural Geoffrey Cornish Invitational Golf Tournament on Aug. 15.
The late Cornish, an architect, spent 70 years designing courses. He is credited with more than 200 original course designs and more than 100 renovations.
Cornish died at his home in Amherst, Mass., on Feb. 10. He was 97.
A native of Winnipeg in the Canadian province of Manitoba, Cornish began his golf career working as a soil scientist for Stanley Thompson, the Canadian architectural giant, in 1935. He is a past president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and wrote or co-authored several books, including “The Architects of Golf,” “Golf Course Design,” and “Eighteen Stakes on a Sunday Afternoon.”
Cornish worked extensively in New England and Canada. The International’s Pines Course, opened in 1956, was Cornish’s first original design. (Robert Trent Jones Sr. later redesigned the course.) At the time that it opened, the Pines’ 8,400-yard tees were the longest in golf.
The cost to enter the charity tournament is $200 per player. That includes golf, cart, box lunch and dinner banquet. The banquet is open to non-golfers at a cost of ...
FRANKSTON, Texas - It would be reasonable to assume that, upon arriving in this tiny east Texas town, you would be greeted with a billboard bursting with civic pride. The billboard might read something like this: Welcome to Frankston, home of the best golf course in Texas.
But no, there’s no billboard. The closest thing you’ll find is a sign at Pandora’s Box advertising, with no hint of irony: “Outrageously cool junk.”
Even as you drive along State Highway 155, there’s little to suggest that you’re approaching a course that’s often compared to the great Sandhills layouts. Only a couple of hand-painted signs bracket the entrance onto County Road 319, informing guests that they have arrived at Pine Dunes Resort & Golf Club.
Texas, the nation’s second-largest state, has more than 1,000 golf courses. But for the past three years, if you wanted to find the No. 1 course on Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Texas, you had to come here to Pine Dunes. It was No. 2 before that.
The story of Pine Dunes is as unlikely as its location, which even owner Jodi Lutz acknowledges is “in the middle ...
Donald Trump is about to acquire the Blue Monster.
The New York real estate magnate and golf course entrepreneur is finalizing the purchase of the 50-year-old, 650-acre Doral Resort and Spa near Miami for $150 million, two sources close to the deal told Golfweek. The expected purchase follows foreclosure proceedings on the preceding owner, Morgan Stanley, which had bought the resort for $501 million in 2007.
Golfweek also has learned that Trump has hired golf course architect Gil Hanse to undertake a dramatic renovation of the Blue Monster, the most famous of the resort’s five courses and home to the PGA Tour's annual World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship next month.
Hanse, whose work includes Castle Stuart in Inverness, Scotland, Boston Golf Club in Hingham, Mass., and a dramatic restoration of Los Angeles Country Club's North Course, has spent the past month studying the Doral site and Dick Wilson’s 1961 original design plan for the Blue Monster. The course subsequently was renovated, first by Raymond Floyd in 1996 and then by Jim McLean in 2003, but retains its original routing. The course has been a staple of the PGA Tour circuit since 1962, when it was home ...
AMHERST, Mass. - Geoffrey Cornish, reputed to have designed more golf courses in New England than any other architect, died Feb. 10, according to the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He was 97. No cause of death was disclosed.
Cornish, a past president of the ASGCA, had a role in designing 240 layouts in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Among his most notable designs were the Pines Course at The International in Bolton, Mass.; Center Valley (Pa.) Club; and the New Course at Ashburn Golf Club in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He remained active with Mungeam Cornish Golf Design.
Among the many course-design books that he authored, “The Architects of Golf” was regarded as a landmark reference work. It allowed readers, for the first time, to obtain specific information about the architectural history of courses and their designers. Cornish was a frequent lecturer worldwide on course architecture.
“His exceptional work as a golf-course architect, author and lecturer cannot be overstated,” said Rick Phelps, the ASGCA’s president. “Mr. Cornish’s contributions to the profession of golf-course architecture and the golf industry will live on for generations.”
A native Canadian, Cornish attained the rank of major while serving overseas in the ...
Opened, Architect(s) - Avg. rating
1. Shadow Creek
North Las Vegas, Nev.
1990, Tom Fazio - 8.07
2. Fallen Oak
2006, Tom Fazio - 7.31
3. We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro)
Fountain Hills, Ariz.
2006, Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw - 6.90
4. French Lick Resort (Dye)
French Lick, Ind.
2009, Pete Dye - 6.74
5. The Greenbrier (Old White TPC)
White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
1915, C.B. Macdonald, Seth Raynor, Lester George - 6.70
6. Barona Creek
2000, Gary Roger Baird, Todd Eckenrode - 6.65
1999, Rees Jones - 6.62
8. Atlantic City Country Club
1923, William S. Flynn, Tom Doak - 6.54
9. Wilderness at Fortune Bay
2004, Jeff Brauer - 6.43
10. We-Ko-Pa (Cholla)
Fountain Hills, Ariz.
2001, Scott Miller - 6.32
11. Salish Cliffs
2011, Gene Bates - 6.26
12. French Lick Resort (Ross)
French Lick, Ind.
1917, Donald Ross - 6.18
13. Southern Dunes
2002, Brian Curley, Lee Schmidt - 6.17
14. Circling Raven
2003, Gene Bates - 6.15
15. Edgewood Tahoe
1968, George Fazio - 6.12
16. Wynn Golf Club
2005, Tom Fazio ...
There’s a misconception about golf architecture, that it’s somehow an obscure, elite field, and one that gets in the way of playing. Far from it. Experiencing quality design can be fun and readily accessible. It’s also inspirational, because the more you see in a golf course, the more creative you’ll be in shotmaking. Your game will travel better, you’ll get more out of each round, and even if you don’t play well at a given course, you’ll come away appreciating each layout more.
The 10 courses listed here represent a sample of some of the most important works in U.S. design. This list is geographically diverse, is equally split between Classic (pre-1960) and Modern (since 1960) on the Golfweek’s Best lists and includes 10 design shops. They comprise a curriculum that will provide a better understanding of architecture, which, in turn, should help you score better.
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Pinehurst No. 2, Pinehurst, N.C. (No. 17 Classic)
Let’s start with something solid, basic and – let’s admit it – a place you can brag about later to friends at home. The most famous of Donald Ross’ 400 designs, Pinehurst No. 2 presents golfers ...
For all the emphasis upon quality of play, sometimes it’s the track that merits attention as well.
This week’s Presidents Cup at Australia’s Royal Melbourne Golf Club provides a rare look at the enduring vision of one of the game’s most innovative designers. Eighty-five years ago, Alister MacKenzie ventured across the Pacific Ocean to impart his sense of golf on the Australian continent. During a seven-week whirlwind visit in October-November 1926, he transformed the face of golf and created a legacy that continues to inspire and challenge golfers. And he didn’t do it alone.
MacKenzie (1870-1934) was a restless, volatile genius. A native of northern England, he summered at a family retreat in the remote northwest coast of Scotland where he developed an early fascination with nature and wildlife. After training as a physician, he was dispatched to South Africa during Britain’s Second Boer War (1899-1902), where he was struck by Dutch (Boer) settlers’ ability to outmaneuver British troops through their superior understanding of native landforms. This led MacKenzie to the formal study of military camouflage and his subsequent involvement in British planning during World War I.
All of this took place while he ...
Haikou, China – With U.S. golf-course development virtually nonexistent, many American golf architects have been piling up frequent-flier miles. These days, Brian Curley, principal in the Schmidt-Curley design firm, spends so much time in Asia that he’s now barking in Chinese to his dog when he’s ready for a walk. Such is the life of the modern-day golf architect that Curley and his business partner, Lee Schmidt, spend more than half their time in China, alternating three weeks on, two weeks off.
“I don’t get my mail in China yet,” Curley said during a round at one of his courses here, “but I am as comfortable here as in America.”
Golf-course construction in China is booming (despite a government moratorium), and Schmidt-Curley is among its trailblazers. Of course, the firm’s commitment to the region was paved by its prolific work at Mission Hills. That’s where the low-profile pair gained notoriety within the industry as the master planners behind 12 courses at the Shenzhen and Dongguan complex. But they often took a backseat in the public eye to a host of more celebrated names, some of whom did little more than show up on opening day ...
SANDWICH, England – Royal St. George’s is everything that Congressional Country Club is not.
This charming gem of an English links, located on the Kent Coast along the North Sea, is a windswept, rollicking and occasionally maddening gathering of golf holes that defies aerial control.
In an era of target golf in which players are asked to parachute the ball onto carefully engineered segments of greens, Royal St. George’s requires an entirely different set of demands. The task here is to thrust and parry and work with the ground contours in hopes of keeping the ball in play. It’s not about ball flight but about control of the shot after it lands and rolls.
This is perhaps the toughest layout in the nine-course British Open rota for driving the ball. You need a thorough knowledge of each hillock and hummock on these fairways in order to direct the ball properly. It takes considerable skill – and a good measure of luck – to wind up in the right spot. From there, the greens tend to be readily visible and accessible. The trouble lies in holding them, because many of the greens are propped up, with subtle turtle-back shaping that causes ...
For all the tornadic devastation loosed on Alabama last week, golf courses seem to have been spared the worst of the impact.
Of the 11 facilities operated under the umbrella of the statewide Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, only Silver Lakes Golf Course was knocked out of commission when tornadoes raked the Southeast on April 27. The 27-hole facility, in Gadsden, 75 miles northeast of Birmingham, was closed through at least last weekend, with unspecified damage.
Amid the horrific destruction – at least 342 dead and thousands injured – the golf business emerged surprisingly intact.
Shoal Creek, site of this week’s Regions Tradition, the Champions Tour’s first major of the season, had about 20 downed trees but nothing to interrupt the event, club manager Jon Davis said.
“We got some rain, thunder, lightning and tornado warnings in the area,” club manager Jon Davis said, “but the course is in good shape. The tents that are out there, none of them blew down. We were lucky.”
Jonathan Romeo, the tournament director at last week’s Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, had to rush back to Birmingham when he got word that three trees had toppled onto his house. There were no ...
GLEN HEAD, N.Y. – Consider it a healthy sign of the times. The old card-room bar, where out-of-shape members wiled away the hours with drink in hand, has been converted into a high-tech golf and fitness center.
North Shore Country Club is back, thanks to a bold and risky plan by the club’s new, visionary owner, Don Zucker. A veteran of the high-stakes New York real-estate market, Zucker, 80, has built, by his own account, “4,000 apartments in Manhattan alone.” He’s also an avid golfer, playing to a handicap in the midteens at three tony Long Island golf clubs and a prestigious club in Palm Beach, Florida.
For all his access to fine courses, Zucker always wanted his own to operate. He tried developing one on Long Island, but the roadblocks proved overwhelming. Then he turned his attention to acquiring an existing facility. The once-thriving Long Island private-club market was faltering, a victim of changing demographics, financial uncertainty and the reluctance of older, established clubs to adapt. That’s when he affixed his gaze upon North Shore, a 1914 gem designed by A.W. Tillinghast.
Or so everyone thought. Zucker figured he was buying a genuine “Tillie ...
The world’s best players might play a game with which we recreational amateurs are unfamiliar, but they often play courses with which we’re quite familiar.
Our annual list of Golfweek’s Best Tour Courses You Can Play reveals that far from being elitist undertakings, the pro circuits – PGA Tour, Champions Tour, Nationwide Tour and LPGA – are surprisingly public and accessible in terms of venues.
Of the 50 layouts highlighted on our list, 26 are regular PGA Tour stops – starting with No. 1 on the roster, Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Indeed, the entire Florida swing of the PGA Tour is played on public-access courses: TPC Sawgrass – Players Stadium Course (No. 8), Innisbrook Golf Club – Copperhead Course (No. 25), Bay Hill Club (No. 30), Doral Golf Resort & Spa – TPC Blue Monster (No. 35) and Walt Disney World Resort – Magnolia (No. 42).
Major sites also fare pretty well in terms of accessibility. British Open courses for 2010 and ’11 are on the list: St. Andrews – Old Course in Scotland (No. 2) and Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England (No. 4). So is last year’s home of the PGA Championship: Whistling ...