In the world of golf course design contests, 31-year-old Cameron Hurdus of Ventura, Calif. is the New York Yankees, the New England Patriots and the Alabama Crimson Tide all rolled up into one. He doesn’t always win, but he’s always in the hunt.
Hurdus has now won the Lido Design Competition, the annual contest co-sponsored by Golf Digest/Golf World and the Alister MacKenzie Society, three times in the past seven years. He’s also finished second four times.
This year, a par 4 design by Hurdus (one he says was inspired by Australian Sandbelt courses) was selected as the best from among 15 very worthy finalists (out of a total of 80 entries) by golf architect Todd Eckenrode, who filled in as contest judge when Gil Hanse had to step aside at the last minute. As he did in 2012 and 2016, Hurdus will collect a $3,000 prize provided by the MacKenzie Society as well as another $2,000 to defray travel expenses in attending the annual MacKenzie Society meeting.
“I went to Argentina as a result of the 2012 win,” Hurdus says, “and to Australia in 2016. Both were unbelievable experiences. This year, the MacKenzie Society meeting is at The Valley Club of Montecito in Santa Barbara, which is about 20 minutes from my home. But that’s cool, because I’ve never played The Valley Club.”
How dominant has Hurdus become in the Lido Competition? Well, he won when the contest required a par 5, he won when the contest required a par 3 and he’s now won when the contest was limited to par-4 holes.
“I guess I’ve completed the trifecta,” Hurdus says. “Maybe I should retire.”
A different golf architect has picked his design the the best each time; Forrest Richardson was the judge in 2012, Rees Jones in 2016. As mentioned, besides his three wins, Hurdus has finished second four times, beginning in 2002, when he was only 12 years old. (“Call me in 10 years,” judge Nick Faldo wrote on his entry.) Hurdus was also runner-up in 2013, 2015 and 2017.
Curiously, Hurdus has been in a different occupation each time he’s won. In 2012, he was a barista at a Starbucks. In 2016, he was on a golf course maintenance crew in Washington. In 2019, he works for Trendy Golf, doing product photography and videos for the online golf fashion retailer,
We asked Hurdus the obvious question: Why in the world isn’t he in the golf course design business. Obviously, several golf course architects recognize that he possesses a great deal of talent.
“It doesn’t seem like the right career move for me,” Hurdus says. “I’m in a long term relationship with my girlfriend, Jessica Weaver, and I just don’t want to be away from home for months at a time, which is what you have to do if you’re going to be successful at designing and building golf courses.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to get involved someday. I really enjoy the creative side of it, and I think I have a decent understanding of the concepts of the game. I’d like to participate someday, but not as the head designer or as a crew member building a course.”
So for the time being, Cameron Hurdus will continue to be the premier amateur armchair architect, focusing on each year’s Lido Design Contest, a contest not open to actual golf course architects. In that competition, Cameron has become the man to beat each year.