Donald Ross? Alister MacKenzie? Mike Stranz? Pete Dye? It's clear that The First Call readers have differing opinions on whose designs they would choose
Question of the week [Sept. 19-25]: If you could only play the courses designed by one golf course architect, who would that architect be and why?
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Courses designed by Arthur Hills from Toledo, Ohio. Playable, fun courses for golfers of all skill levels.
Hands down, Mike Strantz.
He brought visual intimidation and creativity to golf. He was credited with eight courses, mostly in the east. Two in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and two in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Tot Hill Farm in Asheboro, North Carolina, and Tobacco Road by Pinehurst are two absolute gems. Bring your sense of humor. Sadistic Golf at its best.
The Villages, Florida
Alister MacKenzie. Simple beautiful designs, not moving a lot of dirt and visually stunning. Pasatiempo — a lil' bit of heaven.
Stanley Thompson, one of the best ever.
Pete Dye. Always seem to score well on his courses. My favorite is his one at Purdue University [Kampen Course].
I would play Donald Ross designs because they are fair, typically not real long, and they are plentiful and spread throughout the states. Some of my best rounds have been on his courses.
Hendersonville, North Carolina
Tom Fazio, of course. His courses are challenging, but playable, and all are gorgeous. His mastery of the parkland golf course is self evident. A true treat to play any one of his designs.
Palm Bay, Florida
One architect — Mike Stranz. His courses are tough, fair and well thought out. Stand on any tee and you see everything, but you have questions. I don’t know of anybody who built a more beautiful golf course. Caledonia Golf and Fish Club [Pawleys Island, South Carolina], especially the back nine; the rough beauty of True Blue Golf Club [Pawleys Island]; Tot Hill Farm with the chiseled rock formations and brooks wandering everywhere to Tobacco Road, a course like no other. If you play it with an open mind, you will walk away wondering what just happened and want to do a replay. It’s unfortunate that his early death prevented more great designs.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
I love the simplicity of his designs and the challenge of playing his courses. They look simple, but play difficult. I am a member of Royal Dornoch Golf Club in Scotland. Ross was born in Dornoch and grew up working at the golf course. Once you play RDGC, you will understand the impact that course had on every course he designed. I think the second hole at RDGC is the best par 3 I have ever played. I am also a member of four Ross courses — one of which is the last course he designed and built, Raleigh Country Club. The 15th hole at RCC is a short, uphill par 4. It is a great example of how he used what I jokingly call "optical delusions." There is a large bunker on the left side of the fairway that from the spot where most people hit their approach shot, appears to be beside the green. In fact it is 20 yards in front of the green. Its placement makes the golfer think they are closer to the green than they are, resulting in most approach shots falling short of the green.
Raleigh, North Carolina / Dornoch, Scotland
Donald Ross. I love to play Donald Ross courses because they are fair for every skill level player and can be a very stern test for the best players in the world. He seemed to use the natural terrain in his layouts.
Port St Lucie, Florida
Easy question: Tom Fazio. Why? Courses are very playable for all levels, but awards golf course management. That is, if you miss a fairway or green in the wrong spot you'll have trouble making par. Right behind Fazio would be Donald Ross. For obvious reasons. You get to play the most historic tracks in country.
It came down to two great architects, A.W. Tillinghast and Alister MacKenzie. Both were accomplished designers and belong in the all-time top five. In the end, I chose MacKenzie due to his work specifically on three courses that I have seen, but have never played. Augusta National, Cypress Point and Crystal Downs are three excellent tracks to say the least.
To coin one well-known writer, “There is no architect who had such a complete understanding of the game. His courses are not overly penal, not overly long. They are not easy. They are fun and exciting. It is like a puzzle. You have to figure it out." Augusta National has been puzzling the game's best since 1932. What’s funny is I just returned from playing one of Tillinghast’s gems, the Niagara Falls Country Club, which hosts the Porter Cup each year. That, coupled with the fact he designed over 250 courses nearly gave him the nod.
The Villages, Florida
Stanley Thompson would be my choice. His best designs ( St Georges, Kitchener Westmount, Highland Links,) demonstrate classic/timeless design characteristics that stand the test of time at both the amateur and professional level. Stanley Thompson was as good as any designer over the past 100 years. The courses and superior strategic design speaks for itself.
My dad, George Cobb. For instance; Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.
George Cobb Jr.
West Columbia, South Carolina
Robert Trent Jones Sr.
I have always enjoyed Mr. Jones’ designed courses with large greens, lots of bunkering and the natural contour of the land. Having met him in the late 1970s at Tanglewood Park in North Carolina — two courses of his design — was a true pleasure. Knowing I was Canadian, he asked if I had ever played Kananaskis in Alberta, because it was one of his most favorite projects.
He had an open budget from the Alberta Heritage fund for the 36-hole design.
Seth Raynor was a master at fairway routing to enhance sight lines and increase playability on pieces of property that were not optimum for a great 18 holes.
Roslyn Heights , New York
In the historical category, I'd take AW Tillinghast. Clearly one of the greatest and your choices are endless. There is no better line up in the US.
In the Modern category, I'd take David McLay Kidd. You can play a variety of courses and play all over the world. Who wouldn't want a steady diet of Bandon Dunes?
Fort Worth, Texas
I would only play courses designed by Donald Ross.
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Las Vegas, Nevada
Donald Ross or Coore and Crenshaw. There’s no trickery.
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