Golf course architects play a central role in contributing to one of the most distinctive aspect of the game, which is the fact that the “field” is different at every venue.
Mother Nature was the original (and some would say best!) golf course designer, ably assisted during the game’s formative years by prominent players such as Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, Willie Park, Jr., Harry Vardon, James Braid and JH Taylor.
Through their design work as well as their playing these early “superstars” helped spread the game beyond the British Isles to North America, Mainland Europe, Africa and Australasia.
Other notable designers during earlier periods (and responsible for many courses that are still revered today) included Harry Colt, Donald Ross, Dr. Alistair Mackenzie, AW Tillinghast, George Thomas and CB Macdonald.
Today, golf course architecture is a multi-billion-dollar industry, encompassing course, clubhouse and driving range design, course re-modelling and renovation (including bunkers, tees and greens) as well as the restoration of original features on classic golf courses.
Many leading professionals of the modern era have gone on to establish successful golf course design firms after finishing their playing careers, notably Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Billy Casper and Peter Thomson. These have been followed by the likes of Tom Weiskopf, Ben Crenshaw, Graham Marsh, Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods.
Other notable designers of the modern period include Pete and Alice Dye, Robert Trent Jones (Sr and Jr), Reese Jones, Arthur Hills, Dan Maples, Tom Doak, Michael Hurdzan, Gill Hanse and Tom Fazio.