__1884: Oakhurst G. Links,
W.Va.__ -- Ground zero for the game that became a pastime, passion and occasional profession and eventually spread from coast to coast. Oakhurst only lasted until 1905, but a replica of sorts, meant for hickory club play, was built on the site in 1994.
1886: Dorset Field Club, Vt.-- Another pioneer course, its original nine was changed several times but a second nine wasn't added until 1999.
__1886: Sarasota G.C.
, Fla. __-- Florida's first course, laid out by the grandpappy of Florida golf, J. Hamilton Gillespie. Course was abandoned in 1925.
1887: Foxburg C.C., Pa.-- Cricket player Joseph Mickle Fox, member of Merion Cricket Club, learned golf from Old Tom Morris at St. Andrews in 1884, then returned and staked Foxburg. His design is generally considered to be the oldest course of continuous play in America.
1888: Saint Andrew's G.C., N.Y. -- Its early history typified how golf clashed with expanding suburbia. Its first course was six holes on 20 acres of H.O. Tallmadge's pasture in Mount Hope. In 1892 the club moved to a 34-acre orchard on Palisades Ave. in Yonkers, where members became known as the "Apple Tree Gang". In 1894, they moved to a nine-hole layout in Grey Oaks and in 1897, they moved to its present 18 in Hastings-on-Hudson.
1893: Chicago GC, Ill.-- Home of not only America's first 18 hole golf course, but its first two 18-hole golf courses. The original club in Downers Grove featured 18 holes laid out by C.B. Macdonald. Three years later, the club moved to Wheaton, where Macdonald laid out what he later called, "a really first-class 18-hole course of 6,200 yards." That course (later remodeled by Seth Raynor in the 1920s) hosted the 1897, 1900 and 1911 U.S. Opens, the latter being the first time the USGA designated par for its champions (Par that year was 76). The original Chicago G.C. 18 was reduced to nine holes, is now Downers Grove Golf Club, heavily remodeled in the 1960s.
__1893: The Country Club,
Mass.__ -- Scene of the 1913 U.S. Open, when amateur Francis Ouimet beat Brit titans Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in a playoff, "the shot heard round the world." Fifty years later, it was the scene of another three-way Open playoff, with Julius Boros defeating little-known Jackie Cupit and fan-favorite Arnold Palmer. A generation after that, the Open returned again. Rees Jones's renovation of the course in preparation for the 1988 Open (won by Curtis Strange in a playoff over Nick Faldo) was so well-received that he was anointed golf's new "Open Doctor" (a mantle previously held by his father, Robert Trent Jones, who had prepared a majority of Open venues in the 1950s and 1960s). From 1988 on, no architect would remodel more courses for major championships than Rees Jones.
1894: Myopia Hunt Club, Mass. -- Its nine holes hosted four U.S. Opens by 1908. Its first, in 1898, was the first Open contested at 72 holes. Its 1901 Open was the first to be settled in a playoff. Its last Open was reportedly the first to feature ankle-deep rough and extremely firm greens.
1894: Newport C.C., R I.-- At nine holes, it was America's first championship venue, hosting both the inaugural U.S. Amateur and inaugural stroke-play U.S. Open in 1895.
__1894: Shinnecock Hills G.C.,
N.Y. __-- After a second nine was opened in 1895, it became the first 18-hole course to host a U.S. Open in 1896. C.B. Macdonald remodeled the course in 1917, then William S. Flynn built a new one on the same site in 1931.
__1895: Baltusrol G.C., N.J.
__ -- Founded and designed by Louis Keller, who established the Social Register and created one of golf's first island greens. George Low made many changes during his 17-year stay as pro-greenkeeper. His friend A.W. Tillinghast replaced the 18 with the present Upper and Lower 18s in 1922. Both courses later hosted U.S. Opens, the only club in America with that distinction.
__1895: Van Cortlandt Park G. Cse., N.Y.
__ -- The first municipal golf course in America proved to be so popular that it instituted new concepts, advanced tee times and marshals to keep play moving.
1898: Garden City GC, Garden City, N.Y. -- Even though its Dev Emmett-designed course, laid out over country lanes, hosted the 1902 U.S. Open, the club brought in U.S. and British Amateur champion Walter Travis to remodel the course in 1906. It established Travis's credibility as a course architect and his notoriety for extreme bunkering.
1899: Ekwanok CC, Manchester, Vt.-- When it opened at 6,034 yards, Ekwanok was, by some 500 yards, the longest golf course in America. Francis Ouimet put Ekwanok in the national headlines by winning the 1914 U.S. Amateur on it, a year after he'd won the Open at Brookline.
__1899: Pinehurst Resort & C.C.,
Pinehurst, N.C.__ -- What ultimately became a golfing playground presided over by great architect Donald Ross -- who constantly refashioned fairways of its first four courses (Pinehurst being the first complex in the world to have 72 holes), culminating in his mid-1930s solidification of the No. 2 course -- began with a modest nine-hole sand greens course designed not by Ross, but by Dr. D. Leroy Culver. Culver was a New Yorker who practiced medicine during winters in Southern Pines. After making an extended tour of golf courses in Great Britain and the European Continent in 1898, Culver laid out Pinehurst's first "links" by patterning it after holes and features he'd seen, drawing primarily upon The Old Course at St. Andrews. It's an architectural practice that remains popular even today.
Other 1890s courses worthy of consideration: Presidio G.C. (early military layout in San Francisco); Palmetto G.C. (South Carolina precursor to Pinehurst); Nassau C.C. (Long Island layout where the Nassau bet originated) and Oakley C.C. (Boston course where Donald Ross got his start).
1900: Flossmoor C.C., Flossmoor, Ill. -- Known until 1914 as Homewood Country Club, the early H.J. Tweedie design, subsequently altered by many designers, was a popular tournament venue in the early 20th Century, including several Western Opens (considered a major event in those days), the 1910 U.S. Women's Open, the 1920 PGA Championship and 1923 U.S. Amateur.
1903: Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio-- Its long history is intertwined with offbeat aspects of the U.S. Open. It's the only Open venue remodeled both by Donald Ross (for the 1920 Open) and A.W. Tillinghast (for the 1931 Open). In 1920 Open, 43-year-old winner Ted Ray won, drove the green on the dogleg-left, par-4 seventh every day, perhaps creating the first drivable par 4 in American championship golf 40 years before Arnold Palmer got the notion on Cherry Hills' opening hole. Inverness was the site of the Open's longest playoff, a double overtime session of 72 holes before Billy Burke defeated George Von Elm by a stroke. (The next year, the USGA abandoned 36-hole playoffs in favor of 18-hole ones.) At the 1979 U.S. Open at Inverness, where George and Tom Fazio built four new holes to eliminate that short dogleg seventh, the U.S.G.A. transplanted a tree between rounds to keep Lon Hinkle and others from playing down another fairway in order to reach the green on the new par-5 eighth in two. The day after that Open concluded, a member of Inverness's maintenance crew resigned to go work for Tom Fazio. His name was Mike Strantz, and he went on to become one of the most imaginative golf architects of the late 20th Century.
1903: Inwood C.C., Inwood, N.Y. -- Early seaside links with one of America's great finishing holes, a 425-yard par 4 with a Swilcan Burn-like canal across the front of the green. On this hole in the 1923 U.S. Open, Bobby Jones played one of the best shots of his career, an iron from 200 yards to within eight feet of the pin on the final hole of a playoff win over Bobby Cruickshank. It was the first of four Open titles for Jones.
__1904: Oakmont C.C.,
Oakmont, Penn.__ -- The consummate penal design in American golf, staked out originally by Henry C. Fownes, who would add bunkers where ever he saw players hit a tee shot. Oakmont was constantly toughened by Henry's son, William C. Fownes Jr., and longtime greenkeeper Emil Loeffler, who devised huge rollers to make the putting surfaces firmer and faster. Amazingly, Oakmont didn't host its first U.S. Open until 1927, but no course has hosted more since. Its 621-yard par-5 12th hole was the longest in Open history until 1955, when Olympic's 16th was set at 630 yards. In 2007, its eighth became the first 300-yard par 3 in championship history. In 1984, Oakmont was placed on the National Register of Historic Places,
__1904: Wykagyl C.C.,
New Rochelle, N.Y. __-- For better or worse, original architect Lawrence Van Etten routed the course with the clubhouse high atop a hill, causing members to dub its par-5 18th as "Cardiac Hill," a moniker subsequently adopted by a myriad number of clubs with a similar closing hole-clubhouse configuration.
__1905: Atlanta Athletic Club
, Atlanta Ga. [Now known as East Lake C.C.]__ -- Best known for being the course on which Stewart Maiden taught the game to grand slam-golfer Bobby Jones, it features the oldest island green in continuous use in America.
1905: Skokie C.C., Glencoe, Ill.-- Its early reputation was built around Tom Bendelow's usual design, which included the several "half-par" holes, but long walks between greens and tees led to a 1915 remodeling by Donald Ross and putting surfaces so smooth they were universally admired. That led to the course be awarded the 1922 U.S. Open, won by young Gene Sarazen, who wrote after early practice rounds, "This course is built right around my game. Bet on me." He won, before spectators who were charged admission, the first time a U.S. Open became a revenue generator. Incredibly, in the 1930s the club chose to replace the Ross design with one by William Langford. His highly-regarded layout replaced all but six Ross holes.
1908: Beverly C.C., Chicago, Ill.-- The whole notion of green chairmen influencing the design of a course may have started here. In 1921, the green committee agreed to plant 900 trees on the course, trees that subsequently strangled corridors and led to poor turf conditions. Massive tree removal didn't occur on the course until 80 years later.
1908: Seattle G.C., Seattle, Wash.-- A rare Pacific Northwest championship layout, laid out by Robert Johnstone, one of the forgotten pioneers of golf, who presided as its head professional until his death in 1937 and dominated everything from tournament play to course architecture to club administration in the Washington area during his career.
__ - The first melting pot of strategic concepts introduced Americans to the real links game long played in Great Britain. By basing his holes on fusions of favorite features, Charles Blair Macdonald introduced real architecture into the field. The design is still studied today by golf architects, its holes still replicated elsewhere. Important footnote: National is where Seth Raynor first went to work for Macdonald, initially surveying holes, later becoming his design associate and ultimately a famed architect in his own right.
Other 1900s courses worthy of consideration:Atlantic City C.C.
(where the term "birdie" was coined); and Leatherstocking G. Cse.
(sole golf element of baseball-centric Cooperstown).
1910s 1911: Columbia C.C., Chevy Chase, Md.-- When Columbia hosted 1921 U.S. Open, President Warren G. Harding made the trophy presentation, the only time in history a sitting president has done so. But of more significance were the burned-out greens players faced in that event. The dismal putting surfaces led to the formation of the U.S.G.A. Green Section, which soon began providing agronomic consultation to courses around the country.
__1912: Merion Cricket Club
, Ardmore, Pa. [now Merion G.C. (East Cse.)]__ -- Like National Golf Links,
patterned after great holes in the Old Country, and although its design has long been credited to Hugh Wilson, a recent debate centers on whether C.B. Macdonald deserves credit. Fact is, Wilson solicited ideas from several men, including Macdonald and Old Mac's son-in-law, H.J. Whigham, as well as Richard S. Francis. What is certain is that Wilson was responsible for Merion's famed bunkers, white faces that promoted a new idea, bunkers that stared back at golfers. The present course benefited from a 1925 remodeling by William S. Flynn, Merion's former greenkeeper and close friend of Wilson, who had died in early 1925.
1914: Wannamoisett C.C., Rumford, R.I.-- An 18-hole layout by Donald Ross on just 89 acres replaced an early primitive nine-hole course at the club. The course, longtime host to one of amateur golf's premier events, the Northeast Amateur, is still today considered the best par-69 layout in the land.
__1915: Lido G.C.,
Lido Beach, N.Y. __-- Macdonald and Raynor's attempt to create an ideal links from whole cloth, pumping sand from Long Island Sound onto a swamp to create dunes and green pads. Sadly, it didn't survive World War II. The Navy took over the property in 1942 and it was subdivided into housing after the war. Historians and architects get wistful about Lido, citing its many great holes, its Biarritz, Redan, Eden, Alps and Punchbowl all shaped from sand deposits to Macdonald's precise specifications. Lido's triple-wide fairway 18th was based upon a contest-winning entry by Alister Mackenzie. Its alternate-fairway double-water-carry par-5 fourth, the "Channel Hole," was considered the world's toughest hole by critics in the 1920s. In 1955, Robert Trent Jones laid out a public course also called Lido Golf Club just to the east of the old site, and including on it his version of the "Channel Hole."
__1916: Olympia Fields C.C.
, Olympia Fields, Ill. __-- By the early1920s, this was the biggest golf complex in America, with four 18-hole golf courses, a massive clubhouse operation, even its own fire department. But Courses No. 2 and No. 3 were sold to real estate developers after the club went into receivership in 1943, and the present South Course consists of 16 holes from the old No. 1 Course and two holes from No. 2. A practice range was created from the opening and closing holes of old No. 3. The No. 4 Course remained untouched, and today is the championship North Course.
1917: Engineers C.C., Roslyn, N.Y.-- This post-war Herbert Strong design was number one with a bullet. Two years after it opened, the course hosted the U.S. Amateur Championship. The next year, it hosted the PGA Championship. But then the cheering stopped. The club struggled, sold the course in the 1930s and it operated as Roslyn Harbor Country Club for a time, then as the semi-private Rolling Hills Golf Club. But members regained control after World War II, restored the original name and reclaimed most of the original course. One casualty was Engineer's famed 95-yard par-3 14th, a postage stamp green ringed by deep bunkers on the edge of a bluff, a tiny terror Gene Sarazen had dubbed the "two or twenty hole."
__1918: Oakland Hills C.C.
, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. __-- Of its two Donald Ross 18s, the South Course is a lesson in the changing nature of championship golf design. It played tough as host to the 1924 U.S. Open, Cyril Walker winning with a nine-over-par 297, the only score under 300. But officials weren't sure the course would be that difficult when the Open returned in 1937. A.W. Tillinghast reviewed the course before the championship. "What it needs is to be left alone," he wrote. The South measured 7,037 yards, par 72 for the 1937 Open, the first Open played in excess of 7,000 yards, but the rough was so thick that the U.S.G.A. relented and moved tee markers up. Ralph Guldahl won at seven under. A few years later, Ross diagrammed extensive changes to every hole, recognizing his 1918 architecture was out-of-date for a national championship. But Ross died in 1948, so Robert Trent Jones was hired to prepare the South for the 1951 U.S. Open. His rebunkering was overshadowed by ankle-deep rough, and when Ben Hogan closed with a 67, one of only two rounds under par 70 all week, to win his second consecutive Open, he complained that Jones had created "a monster," or words to that effect. In the past 50 years, tinkering with the South has never abated. For example, in preparation for the 2008 PGA Championship, Rees Jones (younger son of Trent) modified every hole except the third. Footnote: Two Donald Ross-designed 18s were no guarantee of financial security; Oakland Hills's North Course was operated as the public North Hills Golf Course from 1933 to 1968.
__1918: Pebble Beach Golf Links
, Pebble Beach, Calif. __-- The stuff of legend, a design by two "amateur" architects on a site some call the greatest meeting of land and sea, with eight holes right on the edge of the Pacific. Pebble Beach, the first great West Coast championship venue, has long been considered America's greatest resort course. It's also Jack Nicklaus's favorite; he won both a U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open on its fairways.
__1918: Pine Valley G.C.
, Pine Valley, N.J. __-- Equally legendary as Pebble Beach, although far more mysterious to the average golfer. Another "amateur architect" design, although founder George Crump had help with the routing from British architect H.S. Colt, and also solicited suggestions from such notables as A.W. Tillinghast, George C. Thomas Jr., William S. Flynn and Walter Travis. For most of the 20th Century, Pine Valley was considered the No. 1 Course in Golf Digest's rankings of America's 100 Greatest, as well as in other golf publications' rankings.
__1918: San Francisco G.C.
, San Francisco, Calif. __-- A rare west-coast A.W. Tillinghast work. Contrary to popular belief, Tillie was not responsible for its clever routing. That was done by a trio of club members, who staked out the course when the club was forced to give up its previous location. Tillinghast remodeled the course in 1923, establishing its signature bunkering.
Other 1910s courses worthy of consideration: Moundbuilders C.C. (utilized ancient Ohio Indian ceremonial mounds in its design); Brae Burn (Boston's other early championship venue); Brackenridge G. Cse. (became the first municipal course to host big-time tournament golf); Hershey C.C.
(the course that chocolate sales built); Reno G.C. (designed by May Gourley Dunn, sister of architects Seymour and John Duncan Dunn); and Scioto C.C. (where Jack Nicklaus would learn the game).
1921: Los Angeles C.C., Los Angeles, Calif. -- Being on the edge of tinsel town, the architecture of its two 18s, particularly its North Course, designed by George C. Thomas Jr. (a millionaire sportsman himself), has always been overshadowed by the architectures of the enormous homes that surround it, including the Playboy Mansion off the 13th hole and Bing Crosby's old home on the 14th fairway, purchased by television producer Aaron Spelling in the 1980s, who subsequently razed and replaced it with a 56,000 square-foot monstrosity.
__1923: Winged Foot G.C.
, Mamaroneck, N.Y. __-- The consummate work of iconic architect A.W. Tillinghast. Its West Course, with its severely-sloped putting surfaces that Herbert Warren Wind called "pear-shaped greens," has long been the club's championship venue, but there are many who feel the shorter East Course actually has the better set of golf holes. Both West and East have long been ranked among America's 100 Greatest by Golf Digest.
__1924: The Olympic Club
, San Francisco, Calif. __-- There are horses for courses, but sometimes there are nags that nag great players. Olympic's Lake Course is a prime example. For decades, a people's favorite has come a cropper in a U.S. Open at Olympic. It started when Ben Hogan lost the 1955 Open in a playoff to club pro Jack Fleck. Then Arnold Palmer lost in 1966 in a playoff to Billy Casper, Tom Watson lost in the final round in 1987 to Scott Simpson and Payne Stewart lost his lead in 1998 to Lee Janzen. Was it the canted fairways? The tiny greens? The confined corridors hemmed by thousands of pines and eucalyptus? If the latter, the trend may change at the 2012 Open at Olympic, for over half its trees have been removed.
__1926: Oak Hill C.C.
, Rochester, N.Y. __-- Speaking of trees, no club has been more passionate about trees than Oak Hill, its Donald Ross-designed East and West Courses decorated with countless varieties planted by countless green committees. Most prominent has been the club's "Hill of Fame," the hillside girdling the green on the East's par-5 13th, where a tree had been planted to dedicate every champion of an event at Oak Hill. So much hardwood eventually shuttered the green, keeping out breezes and sunlight, making it nearly impossible to grow grass on the putting surface. A few years ago, an expert, using computer models, demonstrated how removal of some trees was needed to expose the 13th green to much-needed light and air. Club officials reluctantly agreed, but no one wanted to chop down the tree dedicated to 1980 PGA champ Jack Nicklaus. Take down Miller Barber instead, they urged. Some artful reassembly of plaques on tree trunks solved the dilemma.
1926: Whitfield C.C., Sarasota, Fla.-- A cautionary tale still relevant today. Whitfield was designed by Donald Ross, one of the premier architects of the day. The dominant golfer of the era, Bobby Jones, was hired to sell memberships and real estate, mainly by entertaining potential customers during rounds of golf on the course. Yet despite the involvement of those marquee names, the club failed, miserably, within two years, a victim of the great Florida real estate collapse that portended the Great Depression. The course was closed until 1937, when it was reopened as Northshore Country Club. It closed again during World War II, was reopened in the late 1940s as Sarasota Bay Country Club. Today it's Sara Bay Country Club.
__1926: Yale University G.C.
New Haven, Conn. [Now known as The Course at Yale] __-- Another ambitious undertaking by Macdonald and Raynor, a monumental college course blasted from the solid rock of southern Connecticut, at the time the most expensive course ever built, with a budget in excess of $2 million (a million more than Lido). Critics suggest they ran out of money before they finished the awkward par-5 18th. Nonetheless, several holes are considered classics today, particularly the par-3 ninth, the most graphic example of the Biarritz green popularized by Macdonald and Raynor in their designs. A footnote: Ralph Barton, who supervised construction, insisted to his death that he actually designed Yale, not Macdonald or Raynor. The question of who deserves credit -- architect of record or associate on site -- is one that accompanies nearly every project these days.
__1927: Riviera C.C.
, Pacific Palisades, Calif. __-- The imaginative design by George C. Thomas Jr. and his associate William P. Bell featured everything from their version of a Redan to an alternate-fairway par 4. But the hole that shocked the golf world was the par-3 145-yard 16th, with a bunker in the middle of the green. It has survived, withstanding the impulse to fill it in to accommodate such professional events as the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. It has also led to a handful of imitations.
__1928: Aronimink G.C.
, Newton Square, Pa. __-- An object lesson in architectural appreciation. Years after Donald Ross completed his design in 1928 (on the fourth different site for the club named for Arronomink, chief of the Lenape Indian tribe), he proclaimed, "I intended to make this my masterpiece, but not until today did I realize that I build better than I knew." But that didn't keep club members in the 1950s from bringing in golf architect William Gordon (who had worked for Ross before Ross's death in 1948) to eliminate "out of play" fairway bunkers and move greenside bunkers closer to greens. Architect Dick Wilson made more changes prior to the 1962 PGA Championship at Aronimink, and the course was later revamped by George Fazio in 1978 and Robert Trent Jones in 1990. Only then did club members recognize that they no longer had an untouched Donald Ross masterpiece. It took seven years for Ron Prichard, a designer specializing in course restoration, to rebuild the course to something closely resembling the original Donald Ross design.
__1928: Cypress Point Club
, Pebble Beach, Calif. --__ Generally considered to be Alister Mackenzie's masterpiece, a remarkable design woven through pines, cypress, sand dunes and rugged ocean coastline. The long par-3 16th over a Pacific coast has become iconic, although there is evidence it was originally intended to be a drive-and-pitch par 4 around the cove. Many believe Bobby Jones's 1929 round on the course, in the presence of Mackenzie, convinced Jones to retain the architect to do his dream course in Georgia. Footnote: Cypress Point was originally Seth Raynor's job, but he died in early 1926. His routing was not used.
__1929: Seminole G.C.
, Juno Beach, Fla. -__- Alister Mackenzie showed his artistry at Cypress Point. Donald Ross countered with majesty in south Florida sand dunes. Reportedly the only contract Ross actively pursued in his 50-year career, in a state he really didn't admire.
__Other 1920s courses worthy of consideration:__Alamo C.C.[now Oak Hills C.C.] (San Antonio Tillinghast design boasted longest hole in the country: 657-yard fifth); French Lick Springs G.C. (Ross design immediately awarded a PGA); Women's National G.&C.C. now Glen Head C.C.; Medinah C.C. (Shriner's retreat in Chicago); and Waialae C.C. (Hawaii's first tournament test; Seth Raynor's last design).
1930: University of Michigan G.C., Ann Arbor, Mich.-- The design is credited to the firm of Alister Mackenzie and Perry Maxwell, but the original concept was by Michigan football coach Fielding "Hurry Up" Yost, who located the course directly across the road from his stadium, dedicated proceeds from his football games to fund the $75,000 construction, researched which turfgrasses would best succeed in his climate, dictated landscaping to construction superintendent Dean Wood and even altered the design, making it a par 72 instead of 71. Yost's goal was to have the best college course in the country, accessible to all students. He set student membership rates at just $15 per year.
1930: Stanford University G. Cse., Palo Alto, Calif.-- Generally considered to be the last design of George C. Thomas Jr., although objective evidence shows that the design is mostly that of his partner, William P. Bell. Aspects of the project demonstrate that little has changed in golf course construction. Bell was asked to reroute holes to save as many of the 5,000 ancient oaks on the site as possible. He ended up removing only 75 trees. Skeleton remains of an ancient Indian burial ground were unearthed during installation of irrigation. The campus geology department handled excavation but construction was not halted, and was completed in just six and a half months. The course was opened on the first day of January, 1930.
1932: Pocantico Hills G.C., Tarrytown, N.Y.-- This started the trend of millionaire backyard golf courses. Built on the estate of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, the William S. Flynn design was a clever nine-hole reversible layout, so Rockefeller and his guests could play a full 18 by simply changing directions at the ninth.
__1932: Ponte Vedra Club (Ocean Cse.), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. __-- The last great design by underrated architect Herbert Strong featured an island ninth green that became one of the most prominently photographed holes in the 1930s. Ponte Vedra was set to host the biennial Ryder Cup matches in November, 1939, but the event was cancelled when, on Sept. 1st, Germany invaded Poland and Great Britain declared war on Germany.
__1933: Augusta National G.C.
, Augusta, Ga.__ -- After Bobby Jones won his Grand Slam and retired in 1930, he announced he would collaborate on a dream design with architect Alister Mackenzie in Augusta. Augusta National became the most anticipated course in history, with media on two continents tracking its development. It opened with a small outing on January 13, 1933. A year later, Jones conducted his first Augusta National Invitational, which a year later was renamed The Masters, an event for which the Augusta National course would constantly be reshaped and relandscaped. The popularity of color television in the 1960s motivated the club staff to groom Augusta National into seeming perfection, using extreme measures at times, including spraying dormant grass green and dying muddy waters blue. This effect its appearance had on viewers during each Masters telecast, who wanted their course equally as flawless, resulted to the "Augusta National syndrome," an expensive and misguided attempt to emulate Augusta's early spring conditioning during hot summer months (the time during which Augusta National traditionally closed its course for play). Footnote: Mackenzie, who died in January, 1934, last visited Augusta in mid-1932. He never saw the finished golf course.
__1934: Bethpage State Park G.C.
, Farmingdale, N.Y. __-- Robert Moses, the larger-than-life Commissioner of Park for the city of New York, envisioned "The People's Country Club," a four-course complex of public golf courses at Bethpage that would employ thousands of unemployed. He got it done in record time (a fifth course was added in 1958). Fans of A.W. Tillinghast still find it hard to accept that park superintendent Joseph H. Burbeck was primarily responsible for the layouts and that Tillinghast, brought on as a consultant, left the project in a dispute before Bethpage's famed Black Course was completed. But Tillinghast himself wrote that the idea of making the Black Course as a fearsome public Pine Valley was not his, but Burbeck's.
__1936: Colonial C.C.
, Fort Worth, Texas -__- Businessman Marvin Leonard wanted the first bent-grass greens in Texas, so he built Colonial with that in mind. Architects Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus both submitted routings. Maxwell's was used, while Bredemus supervised construction. In January, 1936, while on a national tour at the behest of the PGA of America, A.W. Tillinghast toured the course during grassing and offered Leonard advice on "reconstruction of three unsatisfactory greens." In 1939, the U.S.G.A. awarded Colonial its 1941 U.S. Open, the first ever conducted in Texas. Leonard then brought Maxwell back to toughen the course. With his longtime construction superintendent Dean Woods, Maxwell added 56 bunkers and created new par-3 fourth and par-4 fifth holes (two of the famed Horrible Horseshoe threesome of holes) and a par-3 13th (since replaced following a 1968 rechanneling of the Trinity River).
1936: Southern Hills CC, Tulsa, Okla.-- Funded by Phillips Petroleum money, this Perry Maxwell design was one of the most prominent "make-work" projects at the height of the Depression. Hundreds lined up every morning for one of 30 or so construction jobs that paid twenty-five cents per hour. Maxwell, a former banker, negotiated his fee on a sliding scale. If he could bring the project at least $17,500 under the slated $90,000 construction budget, his fee would be $12,500. It was one of the most lucrative deals ever in golf design.
1937: Prairie Dunes C. C., Hutchinson, Ks.-- For 20 years, the Perry Maxwell design was the grandest nine-hole course in the country. Its expansion to 18 by Perry's son, J. Press Maxwell, was seamless.
1938: Ohio State University G.C., Columbus, Ohio -- It was started by Alister Mackenzie at the same time he was working on the University of Michigan course, but funds for construction weren't available until 1938, four years after Mackenzie's death. So it was built using a Mackenzie routing plan by George McClure, a turfgrass expert, and John McCoy, a Mackenzie construction man who stayed on as course superintendent until the 1950s, and George McClure, a turfgrass expert. Although its greens and bunkers were hardly Mackenzie-style, it was nonetheless hailed as the last great Alister Mackenzie design ever built.
__Other 1930s courses worthy of consideration:__Indian Creek C.C. (another island pumped from the bay near Miami); Bobby Jones G. Cse. (Atlanta muni, one of the first P.W.A. golf projects); Green Lakes State Park G. Cse. (N.Y. course which designer Robert Trent Jones operated to make ends meet); Memorial Park G. Cse. (Houston muny, one of the earliest W.P.A. golf projects); and Mark Twain G. Cse. (Elmira W.P.A. muny named for the man who once called golf, "a good walk spoiled.").
1941: Normandy Shores G.C., Miami Beach, Fla.-- One of the most prominent of the early landfill projects, the man-made Normandy Shores Isle was begun in 1928, but it took 11 years before the dredging of sand from the harbor was sufficiently stable to construct development on it. Centerpiece of the island was the William S. Flynn-designed golf course. What occurred upon its opening in December, 1941 was a changing of the guard. Pearl Harbor put a halt to future golf course construction. Flynn, in ill health, returned to his Philadelphia home and never designed another course, although he did handle a couple of remodeling jobs prior to his death in January, 1945. His chief construction superintendents, Red Lawrence and Dick Wilson, found work building airfields for a time, then took work as course superintendent and club pro respectively, before establishing themselves as golf architects after the war.
1945: IBM C.C., Poughkeepsie, N.Y [Now known as Casperkill C.C.] -- This was a graphic illustration of just how resourceful was golf architect Robert Trent Jones. Despite the outbreak of World War II, Jones convinced IBM president Thomas J. Watson that a company golf course adjacent to the corporate headquarters would provide employees with healthful recreation and improved productivity. So Watson commissioned Jones to build the course between the Casperkill River and Old Revolutionary War Lane. Nine holes were completed and open in early 1945, the second nine not completed until 1947, at which time a memorial to IBM employees who died in service during the war was also dedicated.
__1947: Lakewood G.C., Point Clear, Ala. [Now known as Grand Hotel Marriott Resort G.C.] __-- The venerable Grand Hotel was founded in 1847, rebuilt in 1939 and served as a naval training center during World War II. After the war, Perry Maxwell was retained to build a course alongside it. Maxwell, who had lost a leg to amputation in 1945, turned the project over to his son, J. Press Maxwell, a fighter pilot just back from the war. It was a partnership that would last until Perry's death in 1952. Press went on to create such notable courses at Hiwan near Denver and Pecan Valley in San Antonio. Footnote: A third nine was added by Joe Lee in 1968, a fourth nine by Ron Garl in 1986, and the Maxwell 18 is now parts of the Azalea and Dogwood Courses.
1947: West Palm Beach C.C., West Palm Beach, Fla.-- The breakthrough design of Dick Wilson, who intended this public layout to be the Pine Valley of the South, complete with acres of exposed sand in the roughs. Bermuda grass soon engulfed the sand, and it wasn't until 2009 that Mark McCumber's design company re-established the expanses of sand in a restoration effort.
__1948: Clearview G.C.
, East Canton, Ohio__ -- After William J. Powell served three years in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he returned to his home in Canton, Ohio and became frustrated that he wasn't welcome at the local public course, Tam O'Shanter. So he decided to build his own course, one that would allow golfers of any creed or color. It took him two years to complete his nine-hole Clearview Course. He wouldn't add a second nine until 1978. The course has always been a family project. His daughter Renee, who learned golf on the course and played on the LPGA Tour for 13 years, is now its head professional. His son Larry is the course superintendent. In 2009, Powell was honored by the PGA of America with its Distinguished Service Award. He died in February, 2010. Clearview, which Powell advertised as "America's Course," was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. It remains the only golf course in the United States designed, built and operated by an African-American.
1948: Northwood Club, Dallas, Texas -- When the U.S.G.A. awarded this brand-new William Diddel design the 1952 U.S. Open, it became the youngest course in the 20th Century to host the championship. The reasons why Northwood was selected over Colonial, which had hosted the 1941 Open, are uncertain, but the fact that Colonial had established its annual Colonial National Invitation tournament in 1946 may have had some influence.
1948: Peachtree G.C., Atlanta, Ga.-- Bobby Jones teamed with Robert Trent Jones (no relation) to create an Augusta National-like championship test in his hometown of Atlanta. Its design, featured in national magazines like Time and Saturday Evening Post, turned out to be more representative of Trent Jones than Bobby Jones, measuring 7,400 yards from the tips (an outrageous length for its time) with extended tees (for flexibility), enormous greens (to spread out wear and tear) and several heroic shots over water.
1948: Raleigh C.C., Raleigh, N.C. -- Generally considered to be the last golf design tin which Donald Ross (who died in 1948) actively participated, the course was completed by former club professional Ellis Maples, who took that experience and expanded it into a successful golf architecture practice of his own in the 1950s and 1960s.
__1949: Dunes Golf & Beach Club
, Myrtle Beach, S.C. __-- With due respect to predecessor Ocean Forest G.C. (now Pine Hills G.C.), this is the course that made Myrtle Beach a golfer's destination. Particularly because it was a Robert Trent Jones championship course open for public play. Its par-5 13th, a boomerang around a lake, encapsulates the Trent Jones brand of heroic, dramatic architecture.
1949: Rancho Park G. Cse. Los Angeles, Calif.-- When the city of Los Angeles built a municipal course on the site of the bankrupt private Rancho Golf Club, it turned the project over to parks superintendent, William H. Johnson, whose first-ever design was good enough to host 16 subsequent Los Angeles Opens on the PGA Tour, as well as tournaments on the LPGA and Senior Tours.
__Other 1940s courses worthy of consideration:__Quaker Hill C.C. (9 holes on N.Y. estate of newsman Lowell Thomas); Center G. Cse. (Fort Gordon, Ga. officers course reportedly staked out by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts); Los Alamos G. Cse. (N.M. layout created as recreation for nuclear scientists housed there); and Indian Palms C.C. (Palm Springs layout designed by LPGA pioneer Helen Detweiler).
__1950: DuPont C.C. (DuPont Cse.) Wilmington, Del. __-- The DuPont corporation had company courses dating back to the mid-1920s, but it wasn't until Alfred Tull created the DuPont Course did the club have a true championship golf course. The course, which would eventually host many LPGA Championships, was a bellwether in corporate branding. Other companies would soon build new courses or remod their old courses to gain exposure in the golf world.
1952: Desert Inn C.C. , Las Vegas, Nev.-- When gambling became big business on the Las Vegas Strip in the early 1950s, golf soon followed (a symbiotic relationship that continues today at Indian casinos). Lawrence Hughes proved that a good course could be built from the shifting sands of southern Nevada (he had to stabilize the soil with everything from straw to chicken manure in order to seed it). Desert Inn became the longtime host of the PGA Tour's Tournament of Champions. Hughes, meanwhile, applied what he learned from building Desert Inn to create courses in the deserts of Palm Springs, California and Phoenix, Arizona. Footnote: The Desert Inn course no longer exists. It was closed in 2002 and the Wynn hotel built on a portion of it. Tom Fazio used the remainder of the site to create Wynn Golf & Country Club.
1954: NCR C.C., Kettering, Ohio -- Following DuPont's lead, the National Cash Register Company built 36 holes right next to prominent Moraine Country Club, site of the 1945 PGA Championship. (NCR's South Course would host the 1969 PGA.) Dick Wilson designed both courses, hiring a former schoolteacher, Joe Lee, to assist him. It was the start of Lee's career that would span 50 years and over 150 designs. At the grand opening of the course, young Robert von Hagge sought out Wilson for advice on how to become a golf architect. Wilson soon hired him, and, like Lee, von Hagge helped produce many of Wilson's best designs.
1955 -- Old C.C., St. Louis, Mo.-- When first proposed in 1952, the budget seemed too excessive for potential members to meet. So Robert Trent Jones rearranged his routing to create 35 acres of homesites on the property. Sales from those lots paid for the cost of the land and course construction. Old Warson's success spurred developers to propose golf courses as marketing tools for home sales.
1957: Champions G.C., Houston, Texas-- A rare course developed by and for championship golfers. Founded by veteran PGA Tour pros, Jimmy Demaret and Jackie Burke Jr., both former Masters champions, who worked on the design with prominent Texas architect Ralph Plummer, Champions to this day boasts the lowest average-handicap of any club in the nation. Plummer's Cypress Creek Course hosted the 1967 Ryder Cup and 1969 U.S. Open. In 1964, George Fazio added a second 18, the Jackrabbit Road Course.
__1957: Torrey Pines Municipal G. Cse.
, La Jolla, Calif. __-- This was another of the prominent 1950s municipal courses developed on prime real estate, a bluff overlooking the Pacific, previously occupied by a sports car racetrack. William F. Bell created 36 holes, the championship South Course and the more manageable North Course, but for decades, beginning with the 1968 Andy Williams San Diego Open, the PGA Tour opted for a composite course utilizing holes from both 18s. It wasn't until the 2008 U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in a playoff over Rocco Mediate, that the South Course was solely the tournament venue.
__1958: Point O'Woods G. & C.C., Benton Harbor, Mich. __-- Another sterling Robert Trent Jones design, Point O'Woods was one of the game's most popular amateur venues, hosting the annual Western Amateur championship from 1971 to 2008.
__1958: Suprenant National G & C.C., Bolton, Mass. __-- Now known as The Pines Course at The International G.C., this is the course that started the arms race in golf. Millionaire owner Bert Suprenant instructed architect Geoffrey Cornish to build him the longest golf course in the country, and by providing little-used back tees -- Tiger Tees, they were called -- Cornish provided a layout that measured 8,040 yards. It featured par 3s stretched to 250 yards, a couple of par 4s over 500 yards long and one par 5 at nearly 700 yards. Shortly after it opened, its name was changed to Runaway Brook, but when it appeared on Golf Digest's initial list of America's 200 Toughest Courses, its supremacy was challenged by the 8,204 yards of total length at Dub's Dread G.C. in Piper, Kansas. So Suprenant brought in Robert Trent Jones to make it even longer; today the course measures, 8,325 yards, par 72. Still the longest in the country, but not the world. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Golf Club in China measures 8,415 yards.
__1959: Firestone C.C.
(South Cse), Akron, Ohio. __-- A company course remodeled by Robert Trent Jones to championship proportions, Firestone was golf's television star for over a generation, serving as host to the annual World Series of Golf exhibition, several years of taped CBS Golf Classic matches, two PGA Championships and a regular tour event. Its narrow, tree-lined fairways and heavily bunkered greens were the role models for many green chairmen in the 1960s and beyond.
1959: Laurel Valley G.C., Ligonier, Pa. -- Considered by some to be Dick Wilson's consummate design, it was founded by a group that included Arnold Palmer, who lived just a few miles from the site. In fact, the group tried to persuade Arnie to quit the PGA Tour and become the club's head professional and manager, and Palmer reportedly mulled over the prospect for a time before rejecting it. Imagine how different the history of the PGA Tour would be had Arnie not become the dashing head of Arnie's Army of the early 1960s. Instead, Palmer won seven majors, 52 titles overall and founded a golf design company that thrice remodeled Laurel Valley for major events.
__Other 1950s courses worthy of consideration:__Pontchartrain Park G Cse (New Orleans muny later renamed for its architect, Joseph M. Bartholomew, America's first African-American golf architect); Tanglewood Park G.C.
(first affordable daily-fee to host a major, the 1974 PGA); and Camp David G Cse (four-hole pitch & putt designed by Robert Trent Jones for President Eisenhower at the western Maryland presidential retreat).
1960: Bellerive C.C. St. Louis, Mo.-- Another darling of the U.S.G.A., which awarded the Robert Trent Jones design the 1965 U.S. Open, making it the second youngest course to host an Open in the 20th Century, after Northwood in Dallas. The 1965 event was notable because U.S.G.A. executive director had to instruct the club to actually widen a few landing areas after the practice rounds. It would be the last time a club was allowed to prepare a course for the U.S. Open without active U.S.G.A. involvement. As for the course, many in the field complained about its severity, but a handful of players told the press that the design had the potential of becoming a "landmark" and role model for future championship venues. Footnote: Bellerive was the site of the scheduled PGA Tour event the week of Sept. 11, 2001. That event was cancelled.
__1961: Doral C.C.
, Miami, Fla. __-- Before Doral, nobody considered Miami as a golf destination. But hotel man Al Kaskel envisioned a tropical Pinehurst when he hired Dick Wilson to build two courses around his proposed resort. After Wilson and company pumped the Blue and Red Courses from a swamp, Kaskel convinced the PGA Tour to hold a tournament on his championship Blue Course. Its difficulty quickly led to a nickname, the Blue Monster. Fifty years later, Doral remains on the PGA Tour schedule and the Blue is now part of the PGA Tour's stable, renamed TPC Blue Monster at Doral. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wilson protégé Robert von Hagge added the White, Gold, Green and Silver Courses, giving Kaskel his Pinehurst.
__1962: Hazeltine National G.C.
, Chaska, Minn. __-- Perhaps the most controversial championship course of the 20th Century. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones for a group that included former U.S.G.A. president Totton P. Heffelfinger. Heffelfinger used his considerable clout to bring the 1966 U.S. Women's Open and 1970 U.S. Open to the very immature layout. Criticisms of the design were so extreme that Trent Jones spent the next two decades periodically remodeling the course, straightening doglegs, relocating holes, and rebuilding greens. Beginning in the 1990s, Trent's younger son Rees Jones assumed the role as consulting course architect. Despite all its changes (or perhaps because of the changes), Hazeltine has become a popular championship venue for PGA of America events. Most recently, it hosted the 2009 PGA Championship. It will host the Ryder Cup in 2016.
1962: Pine Tree G.C., Delray Beach, Fla.-- Long considered Dick Wilson's greatest design, the best example of flat-land architecture ever constructed, it was a personal favorite of Ben Hogan. What made it unique in Florida was that fairways weren't condo canyons. Residences lining the holes were low-slung bungalows. Even Wilson owned one, where he spent his last years.
1963: The Concord, Kiamesha Lake, N.Y.- Jimmy Demaret and Jackie Burke Jr. at it again, this time assisting Texas architect Joe Finger in a quest to create the toughest course in the Northeast. Much as happened at Doral, its reputation as a ball buster quickly led to a moniker that stuck, The Monster.
__1963: Crooked Stick G.C.
Carmel, Ind. __-- This is the course where Pete Dye became Pete Dye. Conceived following an extended tour of British courses, Pete founded Crooked Stick, located the land, raised the funds and designed the course, rejecting conventional golf holes in favor of radical ones, using bulkheads of vertical telephone poles to create abrupt change and long expanses of sand to emulate dunes. What's more, he built it himself, pressing even his wife, Alice, and young sons Perry and P.B. into construction work. He has said that his back nine, completed first, was his ode to Alister Mackenzie, and the horseshoe-shaped 15th green seems appropriated from Mackenzie's Crystal Downs. His front nine, not completed until 1965, was more of a tribute to Donald Ross, with pedestal greens and deceptive bunkers short of putting surfaces.
__1965: Cog Hill G. & C.C.
, Lemont, Ill.__ -- The last great complex done by Dick Wilson, four courses (two remodels, two originals) for owner Joe Jemsek. Has risen to the forefront of privately-owned public course complexes in America, and its No. 4 Course, nicknamed Dubsdread, has been a regular PGA Tour venue for decades. It is still waiting, however, for its first U.S. Open.
__1966: Spyglass Hill G. Cse.
Pebble Beach, Calif. __-- Given the challenge of designing a course literally in the shadow of Pebble Beach and Cypress Point, Robert Trent Jones responded with something that starts out in Pine Valley-like sand dunes and finishes in Augusta National-like cathedral pines. Considered by many to be Trent Jones's finest work, it's also called by some as the best course never to have hosted a major event. Even Pine Valley and Cypress Point have hosted Walker Cups.
1967: The Golf Club, New Albany, Ohio -- Dye called this men's-only club the first big-time assignment of his career. During its construction, he invited Columbus native Jack Nicklaus to stop by and make suggestions. Jack did, Pete adopted some, and a design partnership was born. It would last five years.
__1969: Harbour Town G. Links
, Hilton Head Island, S.C.__ -- Jack landed the contract, then turned it over to his new partner, Pete Dye, who was determined to distinguish their work from that of rival Robert Trent Jones (who was working just down the highway on Palmetto Dunes) by doing the opposite. Where Jones built huge, highly elevated greens, Dye did tiny ones at ground level. Where Jones carved our enormous corridors, Dye selectively removed trees, leaving strategic ones at corners and even in centers of fairways. Where Jones provided a glimpse or two of the ocean, Dye persuaded developer Charles Fraser to let him conclude the course on two coastal holes, even though they didn't return to the clubhouse. Nicklaus made over 100 inspection trips during construction, and Alice Dye also contributed, instructing workers on the size and shape of the unique 13th green. It all culminated at a debut on Thanksgiving weekend in 1969, when Arnold Palmer won the Heritage Classic and writers began publicizing the strange design with sinister lagoons edged in railroad ties.
Other 1960s courses worthy of consideration-- Isle Dauphine C.C. (little known true links on Alabama island); La Costa (Dick Wilson Southern California layouts that set trends for resort opulence); and Mauna Kea (Trent Jones proved golf could be build on Hawaii lava beds).
__1970: Disney World G.C.
, Lake Buena Vista, Fla. __-- When the Disney corporation decided to build a mega-Disneyland on land just south of Orlando, it also decided that the resort would need golf courses. Joe Lee, heir to the popularity of Dick Wilson, was given the job of fashioning the Magnolia and Palm Courses from a swamp. Nothing Mickey Mouse about either layout (both would eventually host Tour events), excepting one bunker on the Palm, which was shaped to reflect Mickey's big-eared profile.
1970: Jupiter Hills Club (Hills Cse.), Tequesta, Fla. -- An old pro from Pine Valley who lost an Open at Merion, George Fazio blended features of both at this, his career high point. Also, he couldn't resist constantly tinkering with it, and ultimately removed many of its most unique, Pine Valley-like holes. Forty years later, his nephew Tom Fazio attempted to re-establish those early characteristics, emphasizing the prominent sand ridge on which George first routed the course.
1970: Mission Hills C.C., Rancho Mirage, Calif.-- Not only the finest "conventional" design of often-eccentric architect Desmond Muirhead, it proved to be the most popular venue on the LPGA Tour, hosting the Dinah Shore tournament (now Kraft Nabisco), an LPGA major, since 1972.
1972: Princeville Makai G.C. Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii-- The project that established Trent Jones's older son, Robert Trent Jones Jr., as a talented architect on his own. Built on a plateau over the ocean, it consists of 27 holes of variety, as reflected by the names of the three nines – Lake, Woods and Ocean.
1973: Butler National G.C., Oak Brook, Ill.-- A men's only club designed by George Fazio and his nephew, Tom Fazio, it rose to abrupt national prominence as host of the PGA Tour's Western Open starting in 1974. The club relinquished that role after the 1990 event rather than change its restricted club policy. The course was the last cool weather venue on the PGA Tour to utilize bluegrass rather than bent-grass for its fairways; several prominent golfers declined to play Butler National because of its turfgrass.
__1974: Muirfield Village G.C.
, Dublin, Ohio -__- Teaming with Desmond Muirhead (his new design partner after splitting with Pete Dye), Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time, established his own dream course in a suburb of his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Named for the course where he won his first British Open, but patterned in most ways after Augusta National, particularly in its opulent conditioning. (Think how different things might be had Nicklaus instead patterned his conditioning after Scotland's Muirfield Golf Club.) A year after it opened, Nicklaus established a PGA Tour tournament, patterned after The Masters, called The Memorial. It's now a semi-major on the PGA Tour. Just as Augusta National has been tinkered with for generations, so, too, has Jack Nicklaus constantly revised Muirfield Village. By rebuilding the par-3 16th in the fall of 2010, Nicklaus completed a 20-year remodeling of every hole on the course.
1975: Trophy Club, Trophy Club, Texas-- Ben Hogan teamed with his friend Joe Lee to produce the only course genuinely reflecting Hogan's attitude toward golf architecture. He wanted every fairway, every hazard and every green clearly visible and all features shaped to avoid awkward stances and unfair bounces. Consequently, the course (originally called The Oaks, now called the Hogan Course) is about as interesting as watching a machine stamp out bottle caps. Nevertheless, it's important because it's Ben Hogan's one true foray into golf course design.
__1976: Oak Tree G.C. Edmond, Okla. [Now known as Oak Tree National G.C.] __-- Another Pete Dye design for a men's only club, Oak Tree Golf Club was the first development of former club professionals Joe Walser and Ernie Vossler, who soon established Landmark Land Co. as one of the driving forces in golf course development during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Oak Tree became one of the most popular homes for midwestern PGA Tour pros, including Bob Tway and Scott Verplank.
1979: Industry Hills G.C., Industry Hills, Calif.-- Industry Hills, with two 18s designed by William F. Bell, the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Babe Didrikson Zaharias Courses, was one of the earliest and most prominent golf projects constructed atop a city dump, what government officials more politely call a sanitary landfill. Its success encouraged other communities to use golf as a reclamation tool.
1979: Kemper Lakes G.C., Hawthorn Woods, Ill.-- Initially a public course (now a private club) constructed around the corporate headquarters of Kemper Insurance, Kemper Lakes hosted both a PGA Championship and a U.S. Women's Amateur. But it's true impact emerged from its operations. Kemper Sports Management, established initially to run the club, has grown into one of the nation's largest golf course management operations.
__Other 1970s courses worthy of consideration:__Arcadian Shores (Myrtle Beach layout that established the bona fides of architect Rees Jones); Innisbrook (west Florida golf complex the culminated long career of veteran designer Edward Lawrence Packard); Sawgrass G.C. (Ed Seay's fearsome 18 that gave PGA Tour players fits); and Shoal Creek (first solo design by Jack Nicklaus in America).
1980 -- TPC Sawgrass
, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. -- PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman dreamed of a headquarters course that could host major events in a spectator-friendly environment. Under his guidance, Pete Dye produced the Stadium Course, with enormous natural grass spectator mounds that could accommodate thousands in amphitheatrical settings around the closing holes of each nine. It was the start of the Tour's Tournament Players Club network of courses.
1980 -- Wild Dunes G. Links
, Isle of Palms, S.C. -- Now considered Tom Fazio's first solo design, but it began in the late 1970s as yet another project in the portfolio of his famous uncle, George Fazio. Tom, who had run the operations in his uncle's firm for over a decade, left the company during construction of Wild Dunes, and when the time the first 18, the Links Course, opened to great fanfare, he was given (and accepted) sole credit for its exceedingly natural design. Wild Dunes generated national acclaim, Tom formed his own business and George had to turn to Tom's older brother, Jim Fazio, to find a new associate.
1981: Castle Pines G.C., Castle Rock, Colo.-- Oilman Jack Vickers, who patterned his new club after Augusta National, urged architect Jack Nicklaus to produce a course worthy of major championship. The mountainous design was soon pegged as major-worthy, but when championships never came, Vickers established his own, The International, which became a long-running PGA Tour played under the unique Stableford format.
1984: Desert Highlands G.C. Scottsdale, Ariz. -- Jack Nicklaus's earliest work in the Arizona desert introduced the concept of transition areas, areas of informally-maintained sand between turfgrass and native desert. It became a standard feature on Nicklaus's desert designs and was adopted by other architects.
__1984: Grand Cypress G.C.
, Orlando, Fla.__ -- The same year Nicklaus was creating courses in the desert, he was also creating them in the flat lowlands of Orlando. To provide relief at Grand Cypress, Nicklaus created hundreds of conical framing mounds, meant to emulate Old Country dunes. One critic dubbed the course "a trip down mammary lane," but the mounds were subsequently used by Nicklaus on several other flatland Florida courses and widely imitated by other architects in the 1980s.
__1986: [The] Desert Mountain Club (Renegade Cse.), Carefree, Ariz. __-- With five tee boxes and two flag locations per hole, expanded greens and multiple avenues of play, this most imaginative of Jack Nicklaus layouts is still the most versatile design in America.
__1986: PGA West G.C.
(Stadium Cse.), La Quinta, Calif. __-- The zenith (or nadir, depending upon your point of view) of the 1980s desire by golf course owners to possess the toughest golf course in the world. Pete Dye's Stadium Course design, featuring long forced carries over water and 20-foot-deep bunkers, was so difficult during the 1987 Bob Hope Desert Classic that PGA Tour pros petitioned the PGA Tour to never return an event to the course. The PGA Tour complied.
1987: Black Diamond Ranch G. & C.C., Lecanto, Fla. -- If Wild Dunes made Tom Fazio a player in the golf design, his design of Black Diamond's original 18 solidified his status as a marquee player. The course, now called The Quarry Course, sported a stretch of closing holes routed around a deep, rocky, phosphate quarry, a surprising feature for Florida.
__1987: The Links at Spanish Bay
, Pebble Beach, Calif.__ -- The last course created on the Monterey Peninsula was years in the making, as sand had to be imported via long conveyor belts and deposited at various locations on a long, barren stretch of Pacific coastline rock. The genuine links design, by the trio of Robert Trent Jones Jr., PGA Tour legend Tom Watson and former U.S.G.A. president Sandy Tatum, was scrutinized both by environmentalists and golf fans. Spanish Bay proved to be both environmentally sensitive to its locale and a worthy addition to a coast that boasts Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
__1989: Shadow Creek
, North Las Vegas, Nev. __-- Spend $47 million to build a golf course? Tom Fazio said the budget was necessary to create an environment where none existed, the desert flats north of Las Vegas. Original owner Steve Wynn spent it because he could, and because his desire to establish a fantasyland course (with recirculating streams and mature pines outfitted with individual drip irrigation programs) seemed logical to the owner of casino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip where everything is fantasy. The impact of Shadow Creek, for Fazio, who commanded huge budgets and design fees thereafter, and the industry, which tried to emulate Shadow Creek's success in many other parts of the globe, still reverberates today. Footnote: Wynn lost Shadow Creek as well as his casinos in a hostile takeover. He and Fazio later collaborated on another course, Wynn Golf Club, built on the old Desert Inn Golf Course site.
__Other 1980s courses worthy of consideration:__The Vintage Club (last collaboration of George Fazio with nephew Tom); Long Cove C. (Pete Dye post-Harbour Town Hilton Head design built by crew that ultimately produced half a dozen golf architects); Troon G.C. (beginning of a short, successful design partnership of Jay Morrish and PGA Tour player Tom Weiskopf); Prince Cse. (Robert Trent Jones Jr.'s follow-up to his Princeville Makai); and High Pointe G.C. (minimalist debut design by Tom Doak).
__1990: The Ocean Course
, Kiawah Island, S.C. __-- The first course ever awarded a premier event -- the 1991 Ryder Cup -- before it was even built. The PGA of America took Pete Dye's proposed ideas as a matter of faith and Dye delivered with an oceanfront course that scared the willies out of great golfers. Nick Faldo said he was thankful a stroke-play event wasn't being held on the course. It will be, when the 2012 PGA Championship comes to Kiawah. Footnote: Alice Dye is responsible for one major element of the design. She demanded he elevate fairways and greens so golfers could see the Atlantic over the top of coastal dunes.
__1990: Troon North G.C.
, Scottsdale, Ariz. __-- One of the earliest successfully country-club-for-a-day experiences was built around the Jay Morrish-Tom Weiskopf design, a desert experience previously available only to private club members in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area. Not only did Troon North begat countless daily-fee desert imitations, but its management formed Troon Golf, another of the behemoth course management operations of the 2000s. Troon North was the very first to apply hospitality management ideas in a golf course setting. Footnote: In the mid-1990s, Weiskopf, having split with Morrish, added a second 18. The two courses were then named Monument and Pinnacle. In 2007, the club rearranged the routings, so the two 18s now contain elements of both courses.
__1992: Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail
, Ala. __-- It was the most ambitious golf course construction project ever in America, 18 public golf courses on seven separate sites across the state, all designed by one design firm (Robert Trent Jones, Inc.) and constructed simultaneously, the entire thing funded by the Alabama Public Retirement System. The success of Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail inspired a number of "golf trails" in many other states, most of them merely marketing alliances.
__1993: World Woods G.C.
, Brooksville, Fla. __-- World Woods began as a Japanese retreat in the United States, but before grass was even planted, the Japanese economy soured and World Woods became another remote daily-fee destination for American tourists. Its draw was two distinctly different Tom Fazio designs, the Pine Barrens Course patterned after Augusta National, the Rolling Oaks Course patterned after Augusta National, but an enormous practice facility with a short course.
__1995: Sand Hills G.C.
, Mullen, Nebr. __-- Hard to believe that at the tail end of the 20th Century there was still any place in America in which to pioneer golf, but the vast sand hills of Nebraska remain unexplored until Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw created Sand Hills Golf Club. By routing the course across existing terrain and moving just 4,000 cubic yards of earth, the duo created the most natural golf course ever built in the U.S. and pushed minimalism to the forefront of architectural styles.
1996: Royal New Kent, Providence Forge, Va. -- Mike Strantz burst upon the scene with a duo of dramatically artistic designs. Both Royal New Kent and sister Stonehouse Golf Club just down the road sport enormous fairways that rise and fall like heaving broncos, elongated greens that twist and turn bunkers recessed into deep fissures. In the field of golf architecture, Strantz was the closest any designer ever came to gonzo building architect Frank Gehry.
1997: Old Works G.C., Anaconda, Mont.-- A Superfund brownfield site transformed into a well-regarded 18 by Jack Nicklaus, it attracted the attention of non-golfers as well. By demonstrating that golf can rectify the landscape that a mining operation had despoiled, Old Works became another harbinger of golf's role in land reclamation.
1997: Sanctuary G.C., Sedalia, Colo.-- In what would become a counterpoint to the seemingly outrageous architecture of Mike Strantz, Coloradoan Jim Engh debuted with a stylistic design that incorporated the Art Deco themes of parallel lines, sweeping curves and repetitive patterns. The comforting nature of his architectural style proved to be popular with many golf fans.
__1998: Whistling Straits G.C.
, Haven, Wis. __-- Having previously produced 36 holes at Blackwolf Run G.C. for owner Herb Kohler, Pete Dye now tackled a dead flat two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan frontage (once slated for a nuclear powerplant) to produce an even more imaginative golf destination for Kohler's hotel guests. Whistling Straits was a combination of Shadow Creek and Old Works, a complete transformation of an old contaminated army air base replete into a Ballybunion-esque faux linksland that would become the PGA of America's most popular championship venue in the 2000s.
__1999: Bandon Dunes
, Bandon, Ore. __-- Chicago recycled products mogul Mike Keiser took a chance on tenderfoot architect David McLay Kidd in the design of a destination daily-fee on the remote southwestern coastline of Oregon. The links Kidd produced, faithful to the golf tenets of his native Scotland, proved so popular that within a decade, Keiser would expand his resort into something rivaling Pinehurst and the Monterey Peninsula.
__Other 1990s courses worthy of consideration:__Pumpkin Ridge G.C. (Bob Cupp two-course complex near Portland was considered a shoo-in for an Open); Atlantic G.C. (Rees Jones's bold attempt at a modern-day version of nearly National Golf Links or Shinnecock); Ko'olau G.C. (hardest course in the world, in Hawaiian rain forest); Widow's Walk (Dr. Michael Hurdzan's environmental demonstration design); and Nantucket G.C. (grand opening of Rees Jones layout featured a round by President Bill Clinton).
2001: Kinloch G.C. Manakin-Sabot, Va.-- Architect Lester George figured the only way to successfully establish bent-grass fairways in hot, humid Richmond was to create super-wide corridors to allow plenty of sunlight and air to the turf. The result is that Kinloch Golf Club has more double and even triple-wide fairways, alternate routes and options than almost any course this side of National Golf Links.
__2001: Pacific Dunes
, Bandon, Ore. __-- Tom Doak was already an established name when Mike Keiser hired him to create a second 18 at Bandon Dunes Resort. His design of Pacific Dunes merely pushed his image into the stratosphere. To best utilize the ocean-front site, he came up a unorthodox routing that included four par 3s on the back nine and moved a lot of earth to make it look like he moved very little. Many critics today consider Pacific Dunes to be the best public course in the country.
2002: Friar's Head G.C., Riverhead, N.Y.-- On the opposite coast, at nearly the same time that Doak was creating Pacific Dunes, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were working similar magic among sand dunes and potato fields along the North Shore of Long Island. What is most remarkable about this dramatic example of minimalist architecture is that much of it was manmade, not natural. It's simply impossible to tell which features were already there and which ones Coore and Crenshaw added.
2001: Old Collier G.C. Naples, Fla.-- The first domestic design in the country to utilize paspalum grass, which thrives on briny water, throughout the golf course, on tees, fairways and even greens. So stiff were the environmental restrictions, so poor was the quality of available water, without paspalum, the Tom Fazio design would not have been built. Many other courses in similar situations have now adopted the turfgrass.
200: Ballyneal G.C., Holyoke, Colo.-- Deliberately rustic in its minimalist design, with Old School conditioning using fescues even on the greens and a no-carts, walking-only policy, this Tom Doak design is both a throwback and futuristic. We've come full circle in the style and playability of courses in America.
__2006: Erin Hills G. Cse.
, Erin, Wis. __-- The latest darling of the U.S.G.A., which selected it to host three of its national championships in its first 11 years of existence: the 2008 U.S. Women's Public Links, the 2012 U.S. Amateur and the 2017 U.S. Open. Full disclosure: this author was the course co-designer with Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry.
__2006: Sebonack G.C.
, Southampton, N.Y. __-- Not since Augusta National had the nation's best golfer teamed with one of the most highly regarded course architects on a project. The teaming of Jack Nicklaus with Tom Doak seemed like strange bedfellows, indeed, particularly since Doak had decades earlier written highly critical reviews of some of Nicklaus's designs. An even bigger challenge was building a course directly adjacent to National Golf Links and close by Shinnecock Hills. But the plan worked. Sebonack was hailed as the country's top new course when it opened and it soon landed the 2013 U.S. Women's Open.
__2007: Chambers Bay
, University Place, Wash. __-- Prodded by his partner, Bruce Charlton, and young associate, Jay Blasi, veteran architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. agreed to a radically different links design in an abandoned sand quarry near Tacoma. A fusion of ideas reflected previously by Mike Strantz, Tom Doak, Coore and Crenshaw and Pete Dye, the all-fescue Chambers Bay became the first 21st Century course chosen to host both a U.S. Amateur (in 2010) and U.S. Open (in 2015).
, French Lick, Ind. -__- Proving that at 85 years of age, he still had fresh ideas, Pete Dye pushed the envelope yet again with his design for the French Lick Resort, with ribbons of bent-grass fairways girdled by wide corridors of player-friendly bluegrass, sweeping greens edged by volcano bunkers and wavy chipping areas and carefully drained cart paths that look like old-fashioned country lanes.
Other 2000s courses worthy of consideration: The Quarry at Giants Ridge (Jeff Brauer trend-setting design with options on every hole); Liberty National G.C. (Golf as Superfund clean-up along New York harbor); Bayonne G.C. (Imitation links formed from deposits dredged out of New York harbor); and Old Macdonald
(fourth 18 at Bandon Dunes Resort, reacquainting public to design elements of C.B. Macdonald).