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Golf Course Architecture: A Father-Son Tradition

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While you watch the final round of the U.S. Open tomorrow, “Sunday of a major championship” will not be the only thing on your mind.

That’s because for a number of years, the final round of the U.S. Open has coincided with one of the most prominent American holidays: Father’s Day.

That coincidence of timing tends to make for some interesting storylines every year as the season’s second major championship comes to a head.

There was the emotional 2003 U.S. Open victory for Jim Furyk, whose father, PGA-member Mike Furyk, has been his only golf teacher. Other similar storylines have come up over the years, and another one might just materialize over the course of this weekend.

How does golf’s indelible father-son dynamic affect you as a golf traveler, though? I’m glad you asked!

Fathers and sons like to play golf together, and lo and behold, the crafting of golf courses has become a family tradition over the decades.

The name Hawtree may not be as famous as others, but father Fred and son Martin are one of the world's best golf course architect family pairs. Here is Martin's course at Trump International in Scotland. (Courtesy of Trump International Golf Links)

Father Fred and son Martin Hawtree are one of the world’s best golf course architect family pairs. Here is Martin’s course at Trump International in Scotland. (Courtesy of Trump International Golf Links)

Better known for their work in the United Kingdom, father Fred and son Martin Hawtree are the international golf scene’s most accomplished father-son golf-course-designing pair.

The elder Hawtree’s most famous designs include many classic inland British courses, such as Brancepeth Castle and Denham Golf Club, as well as the underrated links at Burnham and Berrow Golf Club.

The younger Hawtree’s crowning achievement to date is his course at Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, Scotland, as well as Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in Ireland, which just finished hosting the prestigious Curtis Cup.

CordeValle, which hosts the 2016 U.S. Women's Open, is one of the best designs by any Jones family member. (CordeValle)

CordeValle, which hosts the 2016 U.S. Women’s Open, is one of the best designs by any Jones family member. (CordeValle)

Stateside, the most prolific family of golf course architects is the clan Jones: father Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and sons Robert Trent Jones II and Rees Jones.

RTJ-Sr. designed hundreds of courses over a storied career that lasted from the early 1930s until his death in 2000. And RTJ II and Rees have added hundreds of their own layouts to the world golf scene in their own right. 

Some of our favorite Jones layouts include The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach (RTJ Sr., recent renovations by Rees), CordeValle (RTJ II) and the Oconee Course at Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia (Rees). We would love to hear your favorite Jones courses in the comments below.

Pete Dye's storied career has resulted in a number of memorable courses, such as Whistling Straits. (Destination Kohler)

Pete Dye’s storied career has resulted in a number of memorable courses, such as Whistling Straits. (Destination Kohler)

Though their output hasn’t um, kept up with the Joneses, the Dyes – father Pete and son P.B. – boast a more visually stimulating body of work, one that includes some of the very best courses on the planet, although Pete has carried much of the weight on the family’s behalf.

Layouts like Whistling Straits, TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course, Harbour Town and the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island cement Pete Dye’s place in history as one of the greatest golf course architects of all time.

P.B., though, has a respectable body of work of his own, especially for the benefit of golfers who are looking for engaging golf at a lower price point. The Moorland Course at Legends Resort in Myrtle Beach is a unique, bold effort by P.B., as are Iron Valley Golf Club in eastern Pennsylvania and P.B. Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville (near Frederick), Maryland.

In the case of the Dye family, golf course design carries more than just a father-son connection. The influence of Pete Dye’s wife Alice is well-documented, and his brother, Roy, and niece, Cynthia, have forged golf course architecture firms in their own right, as well.

A similar dynamic exists within the Fazio family, too.

Tom is the most famous Fazio, but he learned the trade from his uncle, George. Golf course design has also been a profession of Tom’s older brother, Jim, and Jim’s son Tommy.

New York City-area golfers may be familiar with Tommy’s Great River Golf Club, located in New Milford Connecticut, and Jim Fazio is well known for his design at Barnsley Resort outside of Atlanta.

Do you consider yourself an aficionado of the work of these great golf course architect families? Be sure to tell us your own favorite courses of theirs below in the comments!

14 Comments

  1. Cary Sternberg

    June 18, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Senior and Rees designed the gold and green courses at The Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg, Va. The gold course has 4 of the most beautiful par threes you will ever see on one 18 hole layout. All are elevated and all are guarded by water. The green has some challenging carries and a beautiful finishing hole

  2. RonB

    June 18, 2016 at 8:43 am

    It seems impossible to list RTJones without mentioning The Golden Horseshoe in Williamsburg, VA. Best collection of par 3’s I’ve ever seen or heard about.
    This was the first course I had my wife “ride along”; after riding out to hit my second shot on the first hole she said, “Now I know why you like to play golf.”
    I responded, ” But I only hit one shot, wait’ll you see the rest of this place.”

  3. JD Gordon

    June 18, 2016 at 8:51 am

    The Robert Trent Jones Jr. Designed Lake Course at CitySpring City Golf & Lake Resort (Spring City) in Kunming, China

  4. rrb

    June 18, 2016 at 9:19 am

    To my knowledge, the Hawtrees have nothing to do with Bernham & Berrow. The course owes its present appearance mostly to H.S. Colt, but before him also Fowler, Alison and Dr. MacKenzie worked on the course.

  5. Jim T

    June 18, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I don’t see how you could not include Ellis and Dan Maples. Their Grandfather Golf And Country Club and their Cardinal and Dogwood at Country Club of North Carolina are very highly ranked. They are very private and don’t get the exposure of, say Pinehurst #2, but are every bit it’s equal. Their public venues, e.g. Keith Hills and Boone Golf Club are eminently fair and aesthetically pleasing and justilably busy

  6. Gloria Teague

    June 18, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Daughters love to play golf with their fathers too. Golf doesn’t stand for “gentlemen only ladies forbidden” anymore😜

  7. Kenneth Chaves

    June 18, 2016 at 11:05 am

    One of the best public courses in the US is Robert Trent Jones, Montauk Downs

  8. rm

    June 18, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    How about the William Bells and Socal?

  9. Rusty

    June 18, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    From Oz I find it disgraceful how RTJ2 rejigged the Hyatt Coolum Course on Sunshine Coast in Oz His initial course was excellent but developers Lend Lease sold land and requested him to redesign the front 9 What he gave them was not a patch on what they sacrificed and I firmly believe he should have told them to stay with the original and not sold out 😟

  10. SteveD

    June 21, 2016 at 9:19 am

    RT Jones’ II Las Sendas in Mesa AZ is a classic high desert course and is quite a challenge.

  11. David E

    June 21, 2016 at 10:54 am

    why not mention courses co-designed by a Father and Son? How about Winchester CC co-designed by Trent SR and JR?

  12. Fernando Scelza

    June 21, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Chambers Bay is one of Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s masterpieces and now he is building another spectacular course in Termas de Rio Hondo, Santiago del Ester, Argentina. He is a real artist, who finds the spirit of each place where he designs a course.

  13. Rich R

    June 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    The Cashen Course at Ballybunion (RTJ, Sr.) is absolutely spectacular. The scenery is breathtaking, and the challenging layout in no way pales alongside its more famous older brother. In fact, it often surpasses it, playing amongst some of the most spectacular, soaring dunes imaginable.

  14. Ron S.

    January 18, 2017 at 1:32 am

    Dennis Ryder and his son designed Wolf Creek in Mesquite, Nv. It is one of the best courses in the state, and is one of the most spectacular courses in the world.

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