Courses & TravelMarch 4, 2015

Tom Weiskopf remembers Jay Morrish: "He was somebody special. I learned so much from him"

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View image | gettyimages.com  "That was a result of technology," he said. "When you have the world's best golfers playing a course every year, you'd got to keep it competitive. But its basic structure was still sound. We didn't change that." On his own, Jay did many spectacular yet playable courses, including Stone Canyon, Pine Canyon and Talking Rock, all in Arizona, Castle Hills and Pine Dunes in Texas, Blackstone, Ravenna and River Valley Ranch in Colorado and Bent Creek in Pennsylvania. He was assisted on most by his son, Carter, whose career he wanted to advance by leaving his partnership with Weiskopf. By the time we met in 1983, Jay had given up golf.  He'd once been avid about it, while earning a nursery management degree at Colorado State, and played left-handed. But quit because of back problems. "You don't have to be the world's best player to be a good architect," he said. "You just have to understand what the golf ball's going to do." Morrish served as the rock-steady president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in the tumultuous year following 9/11.  He was impressively eloquent and well read, as evidenced by an essay he wrote in 2003 comparing the golf design process to the manner in which Edgar Allen Poe composed a poem. He could also be blunt, like the time in 2002 when I asked him to comment on the passing of his old boss, course architect Desmond Muirhead. "Never liked him, never liked his work," Jay said. My reaction to Jay's passing is to flip that line.  I always liked Jay Morrish. I always liked his work.

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