Our history begins with Mike’s initial exposure to golf course design in 1957 when he was just 13 years old. Mike was hired to the summer maintenance staff of a modest 9-hole golf course called Beacon Light Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio, where his father was a teaching pro. Beacon Light was owned and operated by the young sharecropper, Jack Kidwell who, at the time of Mike’s hire, was designing his first golf course. After seeing Mike’s seemingly endless fascination with golf and golf course maintenance, Jack invited Mike to work with him on what would become Oakhurst Country Club.
In the years following, Jack continued to mentor Mike through his completion of high school and then a Bachelor of Science degree in Turfgrass Management from the Ohio State University. After completing his graduate studies at University of Vermont, Mike accepted Jack’s offer to become his business partner in 1970. Over the next 15 years, the successful team of Kidwell and Hurdzan, Inc. would be involved in over 100 golf course projects across the Midwest. In addition, both Jack and Mike would serve as President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1979 and ’84, respectively, would be recognized as Man of the Year by the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation in 1982 and ’88, respectively, and would be inducted simultaneously into the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame in 1997. They were truly a dynamic team.
When Jack retired due to health in 1985, Mike sought to expand both the number and range of projects in which he was involved. During that expansion, Mike carefully recruited the talents of a diverse array of professionals, a tactic ingrained from his command of a Special Forces “A” team in which he witnessed how a small team of soldiers who have diverse but complementary skills could accomplish incredible tasks.
In 1997, Mike made Dana Fry, his associate and former field designer for Tom Fazio, his second in command and formed Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Course Design, Inc. The combination of Mike’s technical expertise, Dana’s artistic abilities, and the complementary skills of their fellow designers led Mike to confidently assert, “Not since H.S. Colt worked with Alister MacKenzie and Hugh Alison has such intellect, talent and skill been assembled into one firm.”
The next decade would see Hurdzan/Fry grow dramatically, not in size, but in stature. Building on the first Hurdzan Top 100 of Devils Pulpit, in Canada, they followed up with six other Top 100 Canada designs, three Top 100 courses in the United States, and scores of other honors, from high-end private to affordable public. For the first time, Mike Hurdzan was breaking out of his type cast of producing only simple, low-budget projects and into the world of the elite golf course designers.
In early 2012, Mike and Dana decided to form separate firms to allow Dana to pursue his Asian interests and Mike to remain focused in North America. Over the next six months, a new foundation of the Hurdzan brand was being poured through the addition of Mike’s son, Chris, longtime business associate and new business partner, and the partnership was made official through the formation of Hurdzan Golf, LLC. Together, the father-son duo is unlike any in golf design today, in education, experience and practical know-how. Jack Kidwell would have been proud.