Born
Dec 25, 1921
In
Oviedo, Florida
The River Course at Grand Harbor in Vero Beach, Fla., typifies Joe Lee's golf course design style.

Joe Lee might be the most prolific golf course architect you've never heard of. Over his 40-plus year career, Lee would leave a mark on some 200 golf courses.

A direct descendant of Civil War general Robert E. and a veteran of the U.S. Navy, Lee got his start in golf working for Louis Sibbett “Dick” Wilson.

As Wilson’s career and life petered out due to alcoholism, Lee would play a significant role in the design of several late Wilson courses, including LaCosta in Carlsbad, Calif., The Blue Monster at Doral, Cog Hill in the suburbs of Chicago, Warwick Hills in suburban Detroit, and Bay Hill in Orlando.

From Wilson’s death in 1965 until his own in 2003, Lee would be responsible for more than 100 original courses throughout golf’s great later 20th-century boom years. His work took him throughout the United States and even to the Caribbean, South America and Portugal.
Joe Lee: selected golf course designs
Tequesta, Florida
Private
0.0
0
Lake Worth, Florida
Public
4.2165647059
1330
Rockledge, Florida
Public
4.2406352941
704
Grand Blanc, Michigan
Private
5.0
1
Blackshear, Georgia
Private
5.0
1
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Resort
4.7573764706
659
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Private
0.0
0
Myersville, Maryland
Public
4.5
16
Mullet Bay, Saint Martin
Public
2.0
1
Almansil, Algarve
Public/Resort
2.0
1

However, Lee is most associated with the explosion of golf in the state of Florida. He designed dozens of courses from the Panhandle to Miami and practically all points in between. From humble nine-holers to exclusive private clubs, all levels of Florida golfer have played a Joe Lee course.
Joe Lee has never built a bad course.
Jack Nicklaus
Stylistically, Lee’s courses fit right in with the majority of his contemporaries’ works: Robert Trent Jones, Sr., in particular. Lee used large bunkers to frame fairways and greens, incorporated water hazards liberally and built up his greens to face the approaching player, such that they tend to slope from back to front with modest interior contouring.

Though he could sometimes rely too much on the formality of straight holes (no doubt often dictated by the residential settings where many of his courses appear), he excelled when designing movement into his courses. The par-5 14th at Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach, Florida, is a prime example. By double-doglegging the hole around two primary ponds, Lee fashioned an imaginative three-shotter that the gambling player could go for in two.
Hole 14 at Bent Pine Golf Club in Vero Beach, Fla., is an excellent short par 5.

Also, to his credit, though he did not shy away from heavy bunkering schemes, Lee tended to leave enough room at the front of his greens for higher-handicap and shorter-hitting players to run balls up.

"I don't think there should be any tricks on a golf course," Lee said. "Golfers want a challenge, but they want a fair one."

In an effort to give Lee further recognition, Golf Digest architecture writer Ron Whitten published the 2002 book Gentleman Joe Lee: Fifty Years of Golf Course Design.

A typical Joe Lee greensite: the par-4 8th at Viera East Golf Club in Viera, Fla.

Review Statistics

Average Rating

4.2
Average Rating
4.2
15829 Reviews (15829)
Total 15829 Reviews
128 Featured Reviews

Rating Breakdown

128 Reviews
4-5 stars
65
3-4 stars
26
2-3 stars
5
1-2 stars
2
Unrated
30
Avg. Course Layout
4.4
Avg. Off-Course Amenities
4.0
Avg. Value for the Money
4.0
Avg. Pace of Play
4.3
Avg. Friendliness
4.4
Avg. Course Conditions
4.1

Joe Lee Designed Courses Map

Joe Lee Designed Courses

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