Designing a golf course is no easy task. And designing a great golf course? That’s nearly impossible. Yet, there are a few golf course designers who are masters at the art of making beautiful courses. Here are a few of the top designers. If you haven’t seen their work in person yet, it’s time for you take a trip out to one of their courses.
1. Robert Cupp
Robert Cupp (often called Bob Cupp) is a name that most people recognize as one of the top golf course designers. Before becoming a designer, Cupp was a professional golfer. It wasn’t long before he decided to start his career in golf course design. Although his career as a golfer was quite short, his career as a designer lasted over 40 years.
One of Cupp’s claims to fame was working as a senior designer for Jack Nicklaus. While there, he spent 15 years creating incredible designs. In 1984, Cupp branched out on his own to start his own legacy. He started his own firm and saw success quickly.
Since branching out, Cupp had courses featured in more than 50 tournaments, both national and international. His courses were home to seven major golf championships. In an unprecedented situation, Cupp was awarded the first title of Golf World Magazine Golf Architect of the Year. Many of his courses appear on Top 100 course lists, and many of his courses earned the title of best in the nation. On four occasions, one of his courses won the title as best in the nation. And six times they won runner up.
A few of Cupp’s more renowned courses include Pumpkin Ridge, Old Waverly, Settindown Creek, and Indianwood Golf Club. However, there are many other courses on his long list of incredible designs.
2. Donald Ross
Donald Ross is one of the best golf course designers, and you don’t have to look hard to see why. The Scottish-born designer gets credit for over 400 golf courses built between 1900 and 1948. Well known for his natural courses, Ross had a distinct style. His courses show an incredible attention to detail, with nothing overlooked or missed. To the benefit of golfers, there was little earth moving on the course.
For his time, Ross was ahead of the curve. He remains one of the most notable designers of the early 20th century. In fact, you can thank some of the incredible designs you see today thanks to Ross’ ingenuity. One of Ross’ more well known designs is the Seminole Golf Club. However, he also designed Oak Hill Country Club and Inverness Club. In 2014, one of his courses was home to the US Open and US Women’s Open. Pinehurst No 2 put professionals to the test and posed a challenge to the world’s top golfers.
3. Tom Fazio
As far as golf course designers go, Tom Fazio is a force to be reckoned with. For more than 50 years, Fazio has been creating incredible courses. In that time, he made himself well known among some of the top golfers. He has more credits than any other designer on Golf Digest’s top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the US and Golfweek’s America’s Best. Fazio is also a recipient of the Old Tom Morris Award, which the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America awards.
It goes without saying that Fazio has seen much success in his life. In fact, Fazio was so successful that he is the reason for the discontinuation of Golf Digest’s Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect poll. After Fazio won the poll three times in a row, the publication stopped having a poll.
If you want to see one of Fazio’s greatest courses, you need to visit Shadow Creek. The course is open to the public and many consider it his best design. To play the course, you need to have a room at an MGM property and pay a hefty green fee. He also designed Frenchman’s Creek North Golf Course. Another of his notable courses is the Red Sky Golf Club. At an elevation of 7,500 feet, the course features incredible mountain views. The course itself is quite scenic. While you play, you go through sage hills, walk near aspen forests, and skirt a highland lake. It’s a breathtaking course created by a top designer.
4. Jim Engh- One of the Most Controversial Golf Course Designers
When you’re one of the best golf course designers, you’re bound to get some criticism. And Jim Engh had his fair share of criticism. Because his courses are very unique, people tend to have differing opinions on them. They either love one of his courses, or they hate it. Consider his Golf Club at Redlands Mesa. The course is nationally known. With 11 elevated tees, the course is very unique. Surrounding the fairways is high desert and incredible views of the Colorado National Monument.
Despite Engh’s critics, it’s hard to argue that he’s not an incredible designer. Anyone who can think out-of-the-box like him earns a spot on the list of the best golf course designers.