The Unknown Architect Creating Awesome Golf Courses

In their December 2013 issue, Golf Odyssey's editors named a "Designer We Hope to See More From."

Given their extremely high standards (and the below photo), I was intrigued.

This golf course architect isn't a household name like Fazio or Doak, but his work includes the restoration of some famous courses and some exciting, original designs.

In fact, Golf Odyssey's normally reserved editors said one of these courses, "took our breath away."

The architect is Lester George, and the "breathtaking" course Golf Odyssey was referring to is Roanoke Virginia's Ballyhack, a pure golf club they called, "our new favorite course in Virginia."

Specifically, they loved the combination of scenery, strategy, and "fun".

In addition to glorious vistas, Golf Odyssey says, "the course is full of variety and playing options. There are short par fours, plunging tee shots, gaping fairways, split fairways, speed slots, holes that rise so as to finish on hilltop knobs, pronounced side slopes, and a double green. We hope George gets a similar site for an encore."

In case you're wondering, Ballyhack (for now) allows public play via stay-and-play packages; on weekdays there is limited non-member access with no lodging requirement.

To be sure, this is not Lester George's only standout work.

His original designs include the Kinloch Golf Club (a Golf Digest top-100), and his renovation work includes The Greenbrier's Old White Course, which now hosts an annual PGA Tour event.

With winners like these, I doubt Lester George will be "unknown" for long, and I agree with Golf Odyssey: it would be great to see more of his work.

Have you played any of his original designs or renovations?

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below.

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
6 Comments
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Deanna Alfredo

I am a member at Ballyhack and let me tell you - the pictures need more than a thousand words to describe it!

I thoroughly enjoy speaking to Lester about golf course design and seeing his passion and vision when creating a course.

Lester is a low-brow type person and been designing for 25 years -- you would amazed at some of the courses he has done! Look for only more exciting things to come from George Golf Design in the future.

golferz

I haven't played the course, but just looking at the course tour on Golf Frontier.I can tell that it looks pretty wicked. Lots of elevation changes and some pretty scenic tee shots. I'll have to add this one to my must play list.

David Sylvia

Living in central Virginia I've had numerous opportunities to play Kinloch which only gets better with age. Word is that Lester George will be teaming with Vinnie Giles to renovate Independance Golf Club in metro-Richmond. The club was recently sold by the VSGA and will be undergoing an extensive renovation to the course. Looking foward to playing it post-renovation.

Alan Clark

Nice article Craig! There is so much golf out there that goes unheralded, glad GVI has the ability to spread the word.
Not that I have any stake in it, but it might be a good time to revisit World Woods, Black Diamond, and Brooksville Country Club. They offer excellent golf in one of Florida's most un-pretentious areas.
Happy Holidays
Alan Clark
Back tees Tours

Ryan Aleshevich

I am lucky to have a good friend that is a member at Ballyhack and have played it many times. Ballyhack is an incredible layout with so many good holes that is doesn't really have a signature hole. It has a great variety of holes, is always in exceptional shape and has an unusual links feel at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I would encourage everyone to play it before it goes completely private.

Tom

Have played Kinloch, and it ranks as a top 5 ever for my golf playing. Also love Old White at the Greenbrier. Would love the chance to play Ballyhack. Can't wait to see more "re-Do's" from Mr. George! Happy Holidays and great joy, peace and success to all in 2014!

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The Unknown Architect Creating Awesome Golf Courses
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