Design Notes

Hudson National reopens after a Fazio fix

Royal Troon adds new bunkers and tees ahead of the Open Championship; Gary Player to design Montenegro’s first golf course

Hudson National Golf Club 

Hudson National Golf Club has unveiled its Fazio Design after a year-long closure for an extensive renovation. The club—located in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, 40 miles north of New York City—features expansive views from high above the Hudson River. The renovation included significant improvements to all 18 greens, every bunker, new grasses and irrigation, and a greater reliance on strategic decision-making, especially by the better player.

A golf-only private club from its opening in 1996, Hudson National has long been a favorite of better players in the competitive New York market, and a regular host of area tournaments. The club’s commitment to pure golf has made it a stalwart on Golf Digest’s list of the top 100 courses in the U.S.

“We were excited to work with Team Fazio and to recognize their enhanced vision for the golf course, making a great golf course even greater,” said Phil Moyles, Club President, Hudson National Golf Club.

The renovation included:

Emphasis on strategy for the longer hitter, to perhaps rethink the benefits of hitting a driver off each tee. With the driving distances now some 30 yards longer than when the course was first designed, the Fazio Team has defined the landing areas with a distinctly memorable pinch through relocated and new bunker locations at 315 yards to 340 yards off the tees. 

Greens. All 18 holes were rebuilt to USGA specifications. Most remain in their original locations, but some were moved, and a number redesigned with more contour. Further, a few greens were resized and/or reshaped to create new and more challenging hole locations, while others underwent changes to their surrounds, including the addition of low-mow areas. 

Tee Shots. Tee placement and tee-shot strategy were key areas of interest, with a major goal to give golfers more options. On holes 6, 10, 12 and 15, new back tees were added to lengthen holes. Throughout the course, bunkers were added, rebuilt, or expanded into fairways, forcing better players to be more strategic in their club selection.

Fairways/Rough. All the turfgrass was updated, with the bent grass fairways and fescue/bluegrass roughs seeded to new, improved varieties of each.

Bunkers. Every bunker now has a Bunker Solution liner, which improves sand performance. More than 78 existing bunkers were rebuilt, and 12 fairway bunkers relocated further from the tee, encouraging better players to weigh laying up versus trying to fly over them. New fairway bunkers were added to nine holes, while some 15 existing ones were extended into areas of play, pinching landing areas for longer hitters.

Grassing. All 18 greens were re-grassed with 007XL, an improved bent grass created by Dr. Rich Hurley at Rutgers University.

Irrigation. The entire irrigation system has been replaced.

While every hole was improved, a handful were treated to significant change, notably:

Hole 1. The green has been elongated back left to allow a new deeper hole location past the guarding front left bunker. The front of the green was moved eight yards from the tee, adding length to the start of the green. Past the green, a new low-mow collection area was added on the edges of the extended back pin area.

Hole 3. The angled right-to-left green now features a new front right, expanded hole location backdropped by the back right bunker.

Hole 4. The green on this short par 4, which already had a false front, has been lengthened in the back to accommodate more hole positions. Going from two tiers to three puts more emphasis on finding the proper landing area with what should be a mid- to short-iron approach. 

Hole 5. More challenge was added to this par 4 by enlarging a bunker on the left side of the fairway. The green has been redesigned and enlarged, and now is guarded on the left by a new bunker and closely mown collection area. The putting surface has more hole positions back left and back right, more distinct sections and undulations, and a more pronounced back-to-front slope.

Hole 6. This green is now surrounded by bent grass with fall-off slopes that feed the ball away from the putting surface.

Hole 7. The addition of a new sightline bunker at the crest of the hill squeezes the landing area, completely changing one’s approach to playing this shortish par 4, especially the longer hitter. For most players, the second shot will be downhill to an all-new green complex with more left-to-right slope and a large area of bent grass low-mow slope on the right perimeter.

Hole 8. The green now retains the original 1995 contours in the middle that move the ball slowly to the edges, away from the flagstick.

Hole 9. The green features expanded bent grass wrapping the back right collar slopes that adds an infinity edge to the back pins.

Hole 13. Green is now protected on the right slopes, with bent grass surrounds that roll the mis-hit approach down and away from the collar.

Hole 14. The changes to this par 5 epitomize the work done throughout the course. What once were two sections of fairway have been connected, which could tempt players to try driving past the enlarged fairway bunker on the left in hopes of going for the green in two. The larger fairway also brings the large water hazard on the right into play on the second (or third, or fourth) shot, aided by some new layup bunkers left and center, and a berm about 90 yards out, which can hide the surface of the all-new long, narrow green from view. The green site was moved 20-25 yards back and right to wrap more around the water and is protected by new bunkers and low-mow turf on the left. Plus, a new tier has been added to the middle of the 45-yard-long green. Holes cut in the new back-right corner of the green will seem to be floating on the water.

Hole 18. Tee shot landing area is now protected with a narrowing of the fairway and a new left side bunker. The green was expanded to the far-right side, adding a new pin that must be carried over the bent grass, false front approach.


Scotland’s Royal Troon Golf Club, venue for the 2024 Open Championship, has lengthened and strengthened its Old course ahead of this year’s tournament. With the guidance of architect Martin Ebert of Mackenzie and Ebert, Troon added 195 yards to the overall distance that the layout played in the 2016 Open Championship. Nine holes sport new back tee boxes and three bunkers have been added, one on the first fairway, another on the sixth fairway and the third adjacent to the sixth green.

Of the nine holes that feature newly elongated tee positions, most noteworthy is likely the par-5 sixth. Previously the longest hole on the Championship rota, Royal Troon’s sixth was eclipsed in 2023 by Royal Liverpool’s 15th, which measured 620 yards. The new teeing ground adds 22 yards, making it again the longest hole on the Open rota courses, at 623 yards. 

Nevertheless, the toughest hole—made even tougher—will inevitably be the 11th. Already one of the most difficult holes on any Open course, this par-4 adjacent to an active commuter railway line has been stretched from 482 yards to 498. Another rugged challenge will be the par-3 17th, lengthened from 220 yards to 242. 

“There is a lot of space out there and we’ve done a lot of work on the throughflow, pathways and spectator areas,” said Mike Woodcock, director of corporate communications at the R&A. “There’s been a lot of work done in the on-course areas to ensure that the fans can get around and enjoy good viewing areas.”

Montenegro’s first golf course is on the way, courtesy of Gary Player and his design firm, led by Senior Designer Steven McFarlane. The Balkan country in southeastern Europe will be introduced to the sport via a layout called Lustica Bay, which resides on the Lustica Peninsula, southeast of Croatia. Originally master planned in 2012, the development already features a hotel, marina and residences—and golf is on the way.

“This property is on a spectacular site overlooking the Adriatic Sea,” Player told Golf Course Architecturemagazine. “The topography is quite severe and very rocky with low growing vegetation throughout. It also has an elevation difference of more than 200 meters [660 feet]. Fairways have been designed with bold contours and multiple tiers to traverse the steep gradients. Great care has been taken to preserve as much of the surrounding vegetation to create an immediate maturity for the golf course.”

Construction began in 2023 and the course will emerge in stages. Bunkers will have small, bold features with steep grass faces and other features will be tailored to meet the challenges of the rugged topography.

“Greens are slightly smaller than we would normally design so that they sit as naturally as possible into the terrain,” said Player. “This will make approach shots into them quite challenging, but on almost every hole, the high side of each green will be very receptive and provide a bailout option for the less proficient golfer. The creeping bentgrass putting surfaces will be very fast so we have designed gentle contours to accommodate multiple pin locations. The stylized and manicured green complexes will create a stunning contrast with the surrounding rugged natural terrain.”

Developers have pegged 2026 to debut the first nine holes. The second nine is slated for a 2028 opening.

“The run of holes from 14 to 17 is going to be incredible,” said Player. “This sequence contains two par 3s, a par 4 and a par 5 all playing downhill with views of the Adriatic on every shot.”