Pete Dye. Tom Fazio. Tom Doak. Robert Trent Jones. Donald Ross. Even if you're not big into golf course architecture and history, you have probably heard these names associated with some o the world's best golf courses. Courses that span the U.S. and the globe.
But not all golf course architects have had worldwide opportunities to ply their trade. Not by a long shot.
For those five household names mentioned above - not to mention Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, whose exploits in competitive golf launched them into worldwide architecture careers of their own - there are multiples more golf architects whose work is and was much more confined, geographically.
In fact, there are enough notable regional architects that we're inclined to break this into Modern and Classic sections.
You may not have heard of these modern regional golf course architects, but you should seek to discover their work.
To me, it's the traveling golfer's version of going to a new place and seeking out the best local cuisine, rather than the chain restaurants.
Here are some modern (active since World War II, or thereabouts) regional architects you should know:
Region: Rocky Mountains (esp. Colorado)
- Fossil Trace Golf Course - Golden, Colo.
- Golf Club at Redlands Mesa - Grand Junction, Colo.
- Lakota Canyon Ranch - Newcastle, Colo.
- The Club at Black Rock - Coeur d'Alene, Id. (private)
- Tullymore Golf Club - Stanmore, Mich.
- Awarii Dunes Golf Course - Axtell, Neb.
With a strong hand for earthworks, Jim Engh has created some of the most distinctive looking courses. It's appropriate that so many of his courses are in mountain settings. Per his website, Engh prides himself and his firm on being "the industry leader for creating spectacular golf on tremendously rugged and difficult land." Whereas mountain courses tend toward the tough end of the difficulty spectrum, Engh's work often features ample places for the wayward shot to find some relief, especially on his many greens with punchbowl-type shaping.
Davis Love III/Love Golf Design
Region: Southeast (esp. the Carolinas)
- Love Course at Barefoot Resort - North Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- Kinderlou Forest Golf Club - Valdosta, Ga.
- River Hall Country Club - Alva, Fla.
- Retreat Course at Sea Island - St. Simons Island, Ga. (renovation)
- Atlantic Dunes Course at Sea Pines Resort - Hilton Head Island, S.C. (renovation)
- Brunswick Country Club - Brunswick, Ga. (private; restoration)
- Dunes Course at Diamante Cabo San Lucas - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
The 1997 PGA Champion and World Golf Hall of Famer has made a strong regional mark in his home state of Georgia and elsewhere in the South. His firm's classical design sensibilities make them equally talented ad new course work and restoration and renovation of existing designs.
Region: Northeast (esp. New England)
- Bethel Inn & Country Club - Bethel, Maine
- Farm Neck Golf Club - Martha's Vineyard., Mass.
- Atlantic Country Club - Plymouth, Mass.
- Stratton Mountain Resort - Stratton, Vt.
- Sugarloaf Golf Club - Sugarloaf, Penn.
- Stow Acres Country Club - Stow, Mass.
- Pines Course at The International - Bolton, Mass. (private but playable by overnight visitors)
- Zoar Golf Club - Dover, Ohio
- Pipestem Resort - Pipestem, W.Va.
- Marchesa Course at Golf Club Villa Carolina - Castelletto d'Orba, Italy
Canadian by birth, Cornish lived to the ripe old age of 97 and spent much of the 20th century designing solid, playable golf courses for the masses. In fact, no one designed more courses in New England than Cornish. You can expect straightforward golf, some long par fours, and pitched greens on a Cornish course. His Hop Meadow Country Club in Simsbury, Connecticut, where I learned the game, is no exception. Modern architects Brian Silva and Mark Mungeam, each with their own successful design careers, got their starts working for Cornish.
Region: Florida and Georgia
- Abacoa Golf Club - Jupiter, Fla.
- Bonaventure Golf Club - Weston, Fla.
- Disney's Magnolia Golf Course - Orlando, Fla. (former PGA Tour site)
- Pine Lakes and Indian Mound Courses at Jekyll Island Golf Club - Jekyll Island, Ga.
- Okefenokee Country Club - Blackshear, Ga. (private)
- Palm Beach National Golf Course - Lake Worth, Fla.
- Bent Pine Golf Club - Vero Beach, Fla. (private)
- Musket Ridge Golf Club - Myersville, Mary.
- Laguna Course at Oceanico Golf Club - Vilamoura, Portugal
- Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club - Grand Blanc, Mich. (private; former PGA Tour site)
What Geoffrey Cornish was to New England, Joe Lee was to the Sunshine State. His no-nonsense, solid courses typified mid-20th-century golf course architecture of the sort popularized by Robert Trent Jones,. Sr., though Lee is more closely associated with Dick Wilson, whom he assisted in building the likes of the original Blue Monster at Doral, the original Bay Hill course and Cog Hill's No. 4 "Dubsdread" course, all long-time PGA Tour venues. No less a figure than Jack Nicklaus once said, "Joe Lee has never built a bad golf course."
Region: Pacific Northwest, Southwest
- The Gallery Golf Club at Dove Mountain - Marana, Ariz.
- Founders Course at Verrado - Buckeye, Ariz. (w/Tom Lehman)
- Players Course at Indian Wells Resort - Indian Wells, Calif.
- Sand Hollow Golf Resort - Hurricane, Utah
- South Course at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club - Aloha, Ore.
- Trophy Lake Golf & Casting Club - Port Orchard, Wash.
- Wilmington Municipal Golf Course - Wilmington, N.C. (restoration)
- Somerby Golf Club - Byron, Minn. (private; w/Tom Lehman)
John Fought's (last name rhymes with "boat") career in golf started as a player; he played the PGA Tour full-time from 1979 to 1985. Back and neck injuries prompted him to trade his staff bag for a drafting table, and he jumped into design in the late 80s, working for Bob Cupp before striking out on his own. Though Fought was an accomplished competitive player, his courses remain playable for the full spectrum of golfers.
Region: Canada (esp. Eastern Canada)
- Le Géant at Tremblant Resort - Mont Tremblant, Que.
- Chippewa and Ussher's Creek Courses at Legends on the Niagara Golf Club - Niagara Falls, Ont.
- Bell Bay Golf Club - Baddeck, N.S.
- The Links at Crowbush Cove - Morell, P.E.I.
- Tobiano Golf Course - Kamloops, B.C.
- Rocky Crest Golf Club - King City, Ont. (private)
- Royal St. Kitts Golf Club - Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis
- Kytäjä Golf - Hyvinkää, Finland
The Toronto-based McBroom has an impressive list of courses to his credit, spanning his golf-mad home country. In addition to the public and resort layouts he's crafted, he's also responsible for two of Canada's most exclusively private courses: Memprémagog and Domaine Laforest, both located in Quebec and owned by the influential Desmarais family.
Region: Texas, Great Plains
- Cowboys Golf Club - Grapevine, Texas
- Painted Dunes Desert Golf Course - El Paso, Texas
- Firekeeper Golf Course - Mayetta, Kan.
- Sand Creek Station Golf Club - Newton, Kan.
- Colbert Hills Golf Course at Kansas State University - Manhattan, Kan.
- Wildhorse Golf Course - Davis, Calif.
- Avocet Course at Wild Wing Plantation - Myrtle Beach, S.C.
- Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort - Biwabik, Minn.
- Wilderness at Fortune Bay - Tower, Minn.
A past Presdent of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Brauer has excelled at bringing thoughtful, playable courses to some of America's wider-open spaces. Low on superfluous flash but high on strategic content, Brauer's courses are everyday gems.
Ault, Clark & Associates
- Baywood Greens Golf Club - Long Neck, Del.
- Cahoon Plantation Golf Club - Chesapeake, Va.
- Nutters Crossing Golf Course - Salisbury, Mary.
- Piney Branch Golf Club - Upperco, Mary. (private)
- Stonehaven and Woodhaven Courses at Glade Springs Resort - Daniels, W. Va.
- Worthington Manor Golf Club - Urbana, Mary.
- Isabella Golf Course - Hot Springs Village, Ark.
- The Landings Golf Club - Warner Robins, Ga.
This firm, like so many, is an example of how golf course design can be a family business. Edmund Ault started designing courses in the 1950s, passed the family business along to his son Brian in the 1980s, and Thomas Clark became a partner in 1989, having worked for the firm since 1971. Their work is well-known and well-regarded by public and private golfers from Pennsylvania down through the Virginias and beyond.
- Marquette Golf Club (Greywalls) - Marquette, Mich.
- Mines Golf Course - Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Pilgrim's Run Golf Course - Pierson, Mich.
- Diamond Springs Golf Course - Hamilton, Mich.
- The Kingsley Club (private) - Kingsley, Mich.
- Cape Wickham Golf Links - King Island, Tasmania, Australia
- Meadow Club (private; renovation) - Fairfax., Calif.
DeVries is an example of an architect in the process of transcending the "regional" designation and becoming a household name. In its first year, Cape Wickham has vaulted onto world-top-100 lists and seems sure to open lots of doors for this incredibly talented architect.
Region: United Kingdom
- Bracken Course at Woodhall Spa Golf Club - Lincolnshire, England, U.K.
- Palmerston Course at Brocket Hall Golf Club - Hertfordshire, England, U.K.
- Stapleford Park Country House Hotel - Leicestershire, England, U.K.
- Carnegie Club at Skibo Castle - Dornoch, Scotland, U.K. (private; accessible by overnight guests)
- The Gower Golf Club - Swansea, Wales, U.K.
- Primland - Meadows of Dan, Va.
- Abaco Club on Winding Bay - Abaco, Bahamas
Steel's name does have some cachet in the U.S., mostly due to the exclusivity of courses like Carnegie Abbey in Rhode Island and Cherokee Plantation in South Carolina, but the 84-year old Brit's influence on U.K. golf has been much greater. Not only has he designed a number of new courses, he has served as a consultant for many of the Open Championship rota courses as well. His courses tend toward minimalistic bunkering, but each of those hazards is well-placed and challenging to escape.
What golf course architects have left their mark on your home state or region? Let us know in the comments section below, and be sure to stay tuned for our "classic" list to come!