Hurdzan Golf Course Design began in the summer of 1957, when a then 13 year old Dr. Michael J. Hurdzan was hired to the maintenance staff of a modest 9-hole public course called Beacon Light (Galloway, Ohio) where his father, a machinist by trade, was a part-time teaching professional. Beacon Light was owned and operated by a sharecropping family led by Jack Kidwell who, at the time of Dr.Hurdzan’s hire, had been commissioned to design his first golf course. After observing Dr. Hurdzan’s seemingly endless fascination with the business side of golf, Mr. Kidwell invited Dr. Hurdzan to participate in what would become Oakhurst Country Club, an 18-hole private course still in operation today.
Over the formative years that followed, Mr. Kidwell mentored Dr. Hurdzan on the practical side of golf course operations throughout his high school and undergraduate collegiate career at the Ohio State University. In 1970, after partially completing his graduate schooling at the University of Vermont, Dr. Hurdzan accepted Mr. Kidwell’s offer to become his business partner. Over the next 15 years, the firm of Kidwell and Hurdzan was involved in the design or renovation of over 100 golf course projects across the Midwest.
In 1985, when Parkinson’s disease no longer allowed Mr. Kidwell to continue his design activities, Dr. Hurdzan formed Hurdzan Golf Course Design and sought to aggressively elevate the prestige of the firm, and did so by carefully recruiting a diverse array of cross-trained professionals. To that end, in 1997, Dr. Hurdzan promoted Dana Fry, his associate since 1988 and field designer to the eminent Tom Fazio, to his second in command to create Hurdzan/Fry Environmental Golf Course Design. The combination of Dr. Hurdzan’s technical expertise, Dana’s artistic abilities, and the complementary skills of their fellow designers led Dr. Hurdzan to frequently declare that “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, just as Dr. Hurdzan envisioned. Building upon the first ever Hurdzan Top 100 design (Devils Pulpit, Ontario, Canada) Dr. Hurdzan was rapidly breaking out of his type cast as a producer of simple, low-budget projects, and into the world of elite golf course design.
In early 2012, Dr. Hurdzan and Dana formed separate firms to allow Dana to pursue his international, new course design interests and Dr. Hurdzan to focus on the renovation of select North American layouts. Over the next six months, a new foundation of the Hurdzan brand was poured through the promotion of Dr. Christopher M. Hurdzan, Dr. Hurdzan’s son and longtime business associate, to partner, and the subsequent re-formation of Hurdzan Golf Course Design proving that, at least sometimes, history does repeat itself.