Design Notes

Ron Forse to restore Foxburg, one of America’s oldest courses

Andy Staples to consult on Weston, former Canadian Open venue; Clayton, Devries & Pont ink a Vietnam deal; Phil Smith begins renovation of Arizona’s Terravita

Foxburg Country Club
Foxburg Country Club's sixth is a straightforward par-3 hole.

The latest news and notes in golf course architecture. 

> Foxburg Country Club, which lays claim as the oldest continually operated course in America, has retained Ron Forse of Forse Golf Design to assist in restoring, preserving and updating architectural and infrastructure features on this nine-hole course that dates to 1887. Located 65 miles north of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, Foxburg traces its roots to Joseph Mickle Fox, a star cricket-playing member of the Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia. Fox traveled to St. Andrews and happened to meet and take lessons from Old Tom Morris, then brought the game back to his family’s home and laid out a rudimentary track, later expanded, that has survived to this day.

The newly formed Foxburg Golf Preservation Inc. is in the process of soliciting tax-deductible donations via its 1887 Project to assist in bringing Forse’s work to fruition. Forse’s plans include restoring greens, tee boxes and bunkers, as well as updating equipment and modernizing the irrigation system.

> With his award-winning work at Michigan’s Meadowbrook, plus recent commissions at Olympia Fields (North) in Chicago and Mount Bruno in Quebec, Andy Staples has become much sought after as a restorer of Willie Park Jr. courses. He adds another to the list: Weston Golf & Country Club in Toronto. Staples has signed on as consulting architect and to prepare a master plan for the club, which recently secured Park’s original drawings. Weston is best known among PGA Tour history buffs as the venue for the 1955 Canadian Open, when Arnold Palmer captured his first win.

> One of the world’s most prolific design shops, Clayton, DeVries & Pont (CDP) has contracted with Vingroup, one of Vietnam’s premier development syndicates, to create the design firm’s first two courses in Vietnam. Spearheading the project at Ha Long Xanh in northeast Vietnam will be Michigan-based architect Mike DeVries, best known for his work at Cape Wickham in Australia and for the Kingsley Club in his home state. Hendrik Hilgert will also contribute to the design, as will CDP partners Mike Clayton and Frank Pont. The 18-hole championship courses will be situated not far from Ha Long Bay, a spectacular Unesco World Heritage site. CDP is currently engaged with projects in England, Spain, Ireland and Australia, among other countries.

> Renovation work begins in the coming week at Terravita Golf and Country Club, a Troon Prive-managed private club in Scottsdale, Ariz. Veteran architect Phil Smith is contributing the design portion, with Heritage Links handling the construction. Smith, a longtime associate with both Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, had his master plan approved in 2021, which revolved around rebuilding all 18 greens, resurfacing with Tiff Eagle Bermuda grass, adding and eliminating tee boxes, re-shaping fairways, rebuilding bunkers and installing a state-of-the-art irrigation system.  Billy Casper and Greg Nash designed the original course in 1994 and while long acknowledged as a rugged, handsome test, it proved too testing at times. Smith vows to create a re-imagined layout that compares favorably to the best courses in the region, with emphasis on the fun factor. Work is expected to take seven months, with a re-opening in November 2022.