C.B. Macdonald (1855 – 1939)
A talented golfer who won the U.S. Amateur in 1895, Macdonald was committed to the amateur game and never accepted money for his design efforts. After spending time in the British Isles and meeting Old Tom Morris, Macdonald identified “ideal holes” (now known as template holes) that he incorporated into many of his courses.
Macdonald hired Seth Raynor to build and engineer much of his work, and Raynor subsequently hired Charles Banks. These three architects built courses featuring template holes with a similar style and design approach for nearly two decades.
Donald Ross (1872 – 1948)
Born in Dornoch, Scotland, Donald Ross apprenticed under Old Tom Morris before traveling to America in 1899 to serve as a golf professional at the Oakley Country Club in Boston. Ross’s career spanned nearly five decades and he is credited with laying out approximately 400 courses in America, at one point employing nearly 3,000 workers to design and build his courses.
Seth Raynor (1874 – 1926)
A civil engineer who had little understanding of golf, Seth Raynor was hired by C.B. Macdonald to assist with the construction of the National Golf Links of America in 1908. Macdonald was so impressed with Raynor’s efforts during construction that a loose partnership was created, with Raynor overseeing construction on all future Macdonald projects. Raynor began a solo design career in 1914 which lasted for just twelve years before his death in 1926.
While designing the golf course at the Hotchkiss School in 1924, Raynor met an English teacher, Charles Banks, who became interested in golf course architecture while watching the course being built. The two formed a partnership that lasted until Raynor’s death several years later, at which point Banks oversaw the completion of many unfinished Raynor courses. Banks would have a brief design career of his own before passing in 1931.
A.W. Tillinghast (1876 – 1942)
A successful amateur golfer before designing his first course at Shawnee in 1911, A.W. Tillinghast was a member of the Philadelphia School of Architecture, a loosely defined group of architects who collaborated and promoted strategic golf design. Tillinghast was a versatile architect who did not have specific trademarks, but his belief that greens are the face of a golf course shows in his best work.
Tillinghast was one of a few architects who spent time in Scotland with Old Tom Morris, but did not have any proteges.
William Flynn (1890 – 1944)
Born in Massachusetts, William Flynn exceled at golf as a youth before traveling to Philadelphia and assisting Hugh Wilson with the construction of Merion’s East Course. As Flynn served as Merion’s superintendent and refined both the East and West course for several decades, he established his own design philosophy to emphasize naturalism. Flynn’s best work appears to be laid over the land, seamlessly blending the work of man and nature. Flynn was another member of the Philadelphia School of Architecture who was also noted for his expertise in turf growth and agronomy.
Flynn partnered with Howard Toomey, a construction engineer who implemented Flynn’s designs into the landscape. Dick Wilson, Red Lawrence and William Gordon were all associates with Toomey & Flynn before becoming successful in their own right.
Pete Dye (1925 – 2020)
A native of Ohio and another architect who was an accomplished golfer in their youth, Dye made frequent trips to Pinehurst and spent time with Donald Ross while stationed at Fort Bragg after World War II. After the war, Dye married, had two sons and sold insurance before launching a golf course design business with his wife, Alice, in 1962. A trip to Scotland in 1963 opened his eyes to strategic golf design, which had been slowly eroding in the decades following World War II. Dye is credited with re-focusing golf architecture on strategic design elements, and later in his career pioneered the use of large land forms to create spectator viewing areas at tournament courses such as TPC Sawgrass.
In addition to his sons Perry and P.B. continuing to design under the Dye name, Pete and his wife Alice mentored a new class of architects which ensured that modern design embraced classic architecture. Bill Coore, Tom Doak, Rod Whitman, Jim Urbina and Bobby Weed all worked under Dye and represent his lasting impact on architecture.
Tom Doak (1961 – Present)
After studying design and landscape architecture at Cornell, Tom Doak spent time abroad studying the great courses of the British Isles. Upon his return he worked for several years under Pete Dye learning the design build process before establishing his own firm. Doak’s original designs are highly regarded, but his consultation work is equally as important, drawing from his appreciation and knowledge to ensure respect and a gentle touch.
Like Pete Dye for him, Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm has provided opportunities for a new generation of aspiring architects including Gil Hanse, Kyle Franz and Blake Conant. Longtime design associates Brian Schneider, Eric Iverson, Don Placek and Brian Slawnik recently acquired equity in the firm.
Gil Hanse (1963 – Present)
Following in the footsteps of Robert Trent Jones and Tom Doak, Gil Hanse studied golf architecture at Cornell and spent a year traveling to see the courses of Great Britain. Upon graduation, Hanse worked as an associate (and later design partner) under Tom Doak before launching Hanse Golf Course Design from a small office in suburban Philadelphia. Hanse has a diverse resume of original designs both domestic and abroad (The Olympic Course in Rio and Castle Stuart) and has arguably achieved greater success carefully restoring golden age classics. Hanse’s partnership with Jim Wagner has allowed the firm to perform both design and construction efforts, maintaining a close relationship between intent and execution.
Hanse has become known as The Open Doctor, a title previously carried by Robert Trent Jones and his son Rees. Hanse has restored lost golden age classics chosen to host the U.S. Open including Merion, The Country Club, Los Angeles Country Club, Winged Foot, Oakmont and Oakland Hills.