Golden Age Golf Course Architects

Famous Golf Course Architects

All golf courses, even the hallowed grounds of the Old Course at St. Andrews and Augusta National, should receive the occasional renovation to remain current. But successfully preserving the vision and strategic philosophy of the original designer demands special knowledge and understanding – a skill set Hurdzan Golf Design is immensely proud to offer.

We are lifelong students of the history of golf course design and have studied the personalities and works of all past Master Designers. Those invaluable insights permit us to reinvigorate a golf feature or entire golf course and capture the spirit and genius of the original designer, all while distinguishing our own work. Sometimes it is a restoration process, while other times more of a renovation, and in extreme cases, a total remodel. But in every case our profound respect for the original artist remains. Every designer, past or present, understands that as the game of golf evolves, so must evolve the course on which it is played. Listed below are some of the many golf course architects whose work we admire and have been called upon to refresh.

Be sure to see more about these greats below the pictures.

William Flynn (1890-1944)

Flynn was an assistant to Hugh Wilson before partnering with Howard Toomey to form the famed duo of Toomey & Flynn.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Flynn’s routings are generally sound, so we usually establish his intended turn points and then adjust the tees backward to allow for longer hitting golfers. We rarely “mess” with a Flynn routing.” Examples include Country Club of Cleveland and Elyria Country Club.

Learn more about William Flynn

A.W. Tillinghast (1874-1942)

His designs have hosted Ryder Cups, U.S. Opens and PGA Championships.

Hurdzan says: “Some Tillinghast golf courses got more attention from him than others, and where he cared about the results the bunkering is superb. We rebuild or restore Tilly’s bunkers when it’s appropriate to suit today’s game”. Examples include Lakewood CC, Cherokee GC, Seneca GC, Hillcrest CC and Myers Park GC.

Learn more about A.W. Tillinghast

Donald Ross (1872-1948)

A highly success Scottish amateur golfer, Ross had three North and South Opens and Massachusetts Opens under his belt before embarking on his storied design career.

Hurdzan says: “A Mr. Ross routing rarely should be changed unless there is an issue of safety involved, but his bunkers were fairly bland and usually need visual enhancements. Well-done Ross greens should be copied when rebuilt and not modified much for they are visually superb and strategic in design. Examples include Northmoor CC, Athens CC, Delware GC, Granville GC, Hamilton Elks GC, Hawthorne Valley CC, Piqua CC, Scioto CC, Westbrook CC, Zanesville CC, Sunnybrook CC, Burlington CC, Oakwood CC and Youngstown CC.

Learn more about Donald Ross

Tom Bendelow (1868-1936)

After being introduced to A.G. Spalding, the sporting goods manufacturer, Bendelow’s career took off. Previously, he had been teaching golf in his spare time—most notably to the Pratt family of Standard Oil fame, who also commissioned him to build them a private six-hole course at their Long Island estate. Spalding hired him to exclusively promote the game in the New York and New Jersey areas, which led to his redesign and management of Van Cortlandt Park GC (N.Y.), the country’s first municipal layout.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Bendelow’s work was pretty basic—sound, but basic, for he was working in a time when economy in golf courses was most important. Today, we try to accent his basic strategies with some more modern styles of bunkers and hazard integration into target areas.” Examples include: CC of Indianapolis, Audubon CC, Cherokee GC, Highland GC, Elkridge GC, Hamilton County GC, Losantiville GC, Moundbuilders GC, Mount Vernon CC, Rosemont GC, Shawnee CC and Wyoming CC.

Learn more about Tom Bendelow

Devereux Emmet (1862-1934)

Emmet was a founding member of C.B. McDonald’s National Golf Links of America, and with his business partner Alfred Tull is credited with the design of several classic American golf courses.

Hurdzan says: “Except for a decade or so, Mr. Emmet was designing in times of economic stress, and it was reflected in his work. Today on Emmet courses we try to focus on drainage, removing unwanted and misplaced trees and enhancing that old, simple bunker style.” Examples include St. Lawrence University GC and Wheatley Hills CC.

Learn more about Devereux Emmet

Willie Park Jr. (1864-1925)

Park is two-time British Open champion, noted golf equipment maker, esteemed writer and member of the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Hurdzan says: “If there was a genius in golf it was Willie Park Jr., who so thoroughly understood the game that one is reluctant to change anything except soften the contours of some greens, improve drainage, remove useless bunkers and spotlight the good ones.” Examples include Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club, Highland G&CC and CC of Ashland.

Learn more about Willie Park, Jr.

Seth Raynor (1874-1926)

Began his architectural career as assistant to Charles Blair MacDonald in the design of the National Golf Links of America (N.Y.). A professional engineer by training, Raynor so impressed MacDonald with his ability to adapt MacDonald’s design concepts to the terrain at hand, MacDonald hired him to supervise the National’s construction. The pair would continue their collaboration, producing many wonderful classic courses.

Hurdzan says: “On a good natural site Mr. Raynor’s work is near flawless except for some greens being too small for today’s play and too steep for today’s green speeds. Our goal is to recreate his strategic intent by modern placement of bunkers to allow for longer hitting golf equipment.” Examples include Midland Hills CC and Camargo CC.

Learn more about Seth Raynor

Charles Hugh Alison (1883-1952)

He was a British golf architect and partner in the firm of Colt, Alison and Morrison.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Alison was awesome. Unfortunately, many of his greens are a bit severe for today’s green speeds, and he was somewhat conservative with bunkers on certain projects. We try to preserve as much Alison as we can.” Examples include Westwood CC.

Learn more about Charles Hugh Alison

Stanley Thompson (1893-1953)

The Canadian golf course architect is credited with such masterpieces as Banff Springs (Alberta, Canada) and Jasper Park (Alberta, Canada). He is one of the founding members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Thompson was a master at bunkering and set the example that influenced others like MacKenzie. Stanley was not afraid to tackle tough sites, and today on rolling terrain sightlines need adjustment and greens rebuilt to softer slopes. The bunkers are great but need refreshing.” Examples include Beechmont CC and Chagrin Valley GC.

Learn more about Stanley Thompson

Alister MacKenzie (1870-1934)

A practicing surgeon before turning his focus to golf architecture, MacKenzie’s career culminated in a portfolio of designs that dominate Top 100 lists the world over.

Hurdzan says: “Everyone’s favorite designer, but often his greens are too severe for today’s green speed and need to be softened. Restoring MacKenzie bunkers makes perfect sense but unfortunately some folks have overdone it and need to be made smaller.” Examples include Ohio State University GC.

Learn more about Alister MacKenzie

Robert White (1874-1959)

Before turning his attention to golf architecture, White served as the Head Professional at Myopia Hunt Club (Mass.) and as the first President of the PGA of America.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. White was not afraid of producing “controversial” holes that today only need some softening and refinement, but otherwise his routing and bunkering was spot on.” Examples include Cincinnati CC and Shorehaven CC.

Learn more about Robert White

Dick Wilson (1904-1961)

Wilson was one of the most respected post-war architects, who trained under the greats Flynn, Thomas, Tillinghast and Toomey. He also was chief to World Golf Hall of Fame member Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Wilson had a “Florida style” which was to elevate greens 6-8 feet in the air, provide narrow openings between front bunkers, and often used back or retaining bunkers. In many instances, his work is a bit too steep or severe for today’s golfers and needs to be mellowed out.” Examples include Scioto CC.

Learn more about Dick Wilson

Alex Nipper Campbell (1879-1942)

Campbell served as Head Professional at the Country Club (MA), Baltimore CC (Md.), Losantiville CC (Ohio) and played a pivotal role in the design or redesign of several gems in the state of Ohio.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Campbell’s work was solid but a bit plain, so adding a few bunkers can greatly improve his basic design.” Examples include Moraine CC.

Learn more about Alex Nipper Campbell

Robert Trent Jones, Sr. (1906-2000)

Former partner of Canadian architect Stanley Thompson, Jones is credited with the design or redesign of over 500 courses in at least 40 states and 35 countries around the world. It is often said that the “sun never sets on a Robert Trent Jones golf course”.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Jones was “da man” for decades and he mass-produced a great number of golf courses that can be improved by breaking up his “runway” tees into separate tees and reducing the size of some bunkers. Otherwise his courses need little else.” Examples include Champions GC.

Learn more about Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

William Diddle (1884-1985)

Five-time Indiana state golf champion and four-sport letterman at Wabash College, Diddle was one of the founder’s and a charter member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, of which he served twice as President (1954 and 1965). Charged with designing over 300 layouts, primarily throughout the Midwest, Diddle’s greatest accomplishment was perhaps his design of Northwood CC, future site of Julius Boros’ first U.S. Open victory.

Hurdzan says: “Mr. Diddle was an excellent golfer and golf course technician but not really a landscape artist, so his courses tend to need either more or refreshed bunkers, additional tees or improved drainage.” Examples include Kenwood CC, CC of Indianapolis, California GC, Miami View GC, Nuemann Park GC, Reeves Memorial GC, Sharon Woods GC, Wright Patterson AFB and Winton Woods GC.

Learn more about William Diddle

Walter Travis (1862-1927)

A noted golf journalist and publisher, Travis was an innovator in all aspects of golf, a teacher, a respected golf course architect and the most successful amateur golfer in the U.S. during the early 1900s. A three-time U.S. Amateur champion and North and South Amateur champion, and the first non Brit to win the British Amateur, Travis, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, was founder and publisher of “The American Golfer” magazine, one of the most highly regarded and influential magazines of its time. He is perhaps equally well known for high popularization of the center-shafted, aluminum mallet head Schenectady putter, which, upon its ban by the R&A in 1910, marked the first departure from USGA and R&A rulings when the USGA upheld its use in competition.

Hurdzan says: “Walter Travis golf courses are usually distinguished by his green designs that tended to isolate quadrants or different-sized target areas within the putting surface. This is the same philosophy we have in designing greens, so we would make every effort to duplicate or save a Travis green in its native form.” Examples include Carol Brook CC, Youngstown CC and CC of Scranton.

Learn more about Walter Travis