Golf architect Bob Cupp, who passed away Aug. 19 at the age of 76, leaves behind a legacy of outstanding courses.
Cupp, a senior designer for Jack Nicklaus for 15 years, designed, rebuilt and renovated roughly 150 golf courses after leaving Nicklaus to start his own golf course design firm in Atlanta in the 1980s. His body of work puts him firmly among the top dozen or so architects of his generation, even if he isn't as widely acclaimed as Tom Fazio or the Jones brothers, Rees and Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
His penchant to take co-designer roles with "name" golfers-turned-architects partly explains why he might not be as well known. He worked with Jerry Pate (Old Waverly Golf Club in Mississippi), Tom Kite (Liberty National Golf Club in New Jersey), Sam Snead (rebuilds/restorations of The Meadows and Oakhurst Links at The Greenbrier in West Virginia), Fred Couples (Kelly Plantation Golf Club in Florida and the China Creek Course and Coal Creek Course at The Golf Club at Newcastle in Washington), Craig Stadler (Starr Pass Golf Club in Arizona), John Fought (Rush Creek Golf Club in Minnesota), Fuzzy Zoeller/Hubert Green (Plantation Course at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia) and Billy Andrade.
Bob Cupp-designed courses have hosted majors on the PGA Tour Champions (Crosswater at Sunriver Resort in Oregon), a U.S. Amateur (Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon), a U.S. Women's Open (Old Waverly), and events on the PGA Tour (Liberty National, also host of the 2017 Presidents Cup) and LPGA Tour (Rush Creek). He even leaves behind a track named in his honor -- the Cupp Course at the Palmetto Hall Plantation Club in Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Several of Cupp's creations feature unique twists. He built 12 replica holes lighted for nightly play at his Cloud Nine Course at Angel Park Golf Club in Las Vegas. A 2013 renovation of the Plantation Course at Reynolds Lake Oconee added a course within a course: The new "Quick Six" offers a six-hole loop that can be played in less than 90 minutes.
Did you know Cupp also built four of the top 100 golf courses in Canada, according to the rankings at Score Magazine?
In this long overdue tribute to Cupp, let's tour the 10 best public courses he designed:
10. LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples, Fla.
Cupp transformed an existing course built by Ernie Smith in 1959 and gave it the feel of a links. He returned in 2015 to renovate the tees and greens. Water, ponds and marsh line 14 holes. LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort is only open to resort guests and members, and with the 10-minute spacing between tee times, golfers are guaranteed a secluded experience.
9. Rush Creek Golf Club, Maple Grove, Minn.
Rush Creek Golf Club opened in 1996 and immediately held the LPGA Tour's Rainbow Foods LPGA Classic in 1997-98 and later the 2004 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. It's considered one of the must-plays of the Twin Cities.
8. Stowe Mountain Club Golf Course, Stowe, Vt.
This mountain playground meanders along the slopes of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, reaching an elevation of more than 1,800 feet. "There may be no finer collection of short par 4s anywhere in America," Cupp boasted on Stowe Mountain Club Golf Course's Web site. Only members and guests of the Stowe Mountain Lodge receive playing privileges.
7. The Club at Savannah Harbor, Savannah, Ga.
Adjacent to the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa, the Club at Savannah Harbor delivers beautiful views of downtown Savannah and the back portion of the Savannah River. It received plenty of TV exposure by hosting PGA Tour Champions players in the 2003-2013 Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
6. The Highlands at Deerhurst Resort, Huntsville, Ontario, Canada
Cupp, along with Canadian Thomas McBroom, launched the golf boom in Muskoka, a cottage and lake destination two hours north of Toronto, by opening the scenic Highlands at Deerhurst Resort in 1990. The rocky terrain that plagues some modern designs in the region was artfully kept at bay by the two designers.
5. Crosswater at Sunriver Resort, Sunriver, Ore.
Crosswater at Sunriver Resort, a five-star course (according to Golf Advisor reviewers), headlines the three regulation courses at the largest golf resort near Bend, in central Oregon. The host venue for the 2007-2010 JELD-WEN Tradition lives up to its name, crossing the Little Deschutes River seven times.
4. Big Sky Golf and Country Club, Pemberton, British Columbia, Canada
Big Sky Golf and Country Club is big fun on gently rolling land north of Whistler. The setting feels remote, which makes any round so peaceful and serene. Score Golf ranked Big Sky no. 40 in Canada, public or private, in 2016.
3. Ghost Creek at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, North Plains, Ore.
Former World No. 1 David Duval, now a Golf Channel analyst, launched his career by winning the 1993 Nike Tour Championship (now the Web.com Tour) on Ghost Creek at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland. Its sister course, Witch Hollow, gets even higher marks for conditioning, scenery and shot making.
2. The Landing at Reynolds Lake Oconee, Greensboro, Ga.
Cupp helped put this sprawling Lake Oconee community on the map by building its first course in 1986. It later hosted the 2008 PGA Professional National Championship. Cupp returned for a renovation in 2013, adding a new fairway on the par-4 15th hole at The Landing and re-positioning bunkers, among other cosmetic alterations.
1. Old Waverly Golf Club, West Point, Miss.
Guests of the Lodge at Old Waverly can tee it up on the site of the 1999 U.S. Women's Open, won by Julie Inkster: Old Waverly Golf Club. Gil Hanse's Mossy Oak Golf Club, its sister course, opened this fall, creating one of the finest 36 hole private clubs in the South.