The eighth annual American Society of Golf Course Architects Design Excellence Recognition Program honorees have been named. These golf facilities have been cited for their work with ASGCA members in addressing unique design challenges.

Since its creation, the Design Excellence Recognition Program has highlighted the innovation and problem-solving skills required of today’s golf course designs, from new 18-hole layouts to renovations to new and updated practice facilities.

The 2019 Design Excellence Recognition Program nominations were reviewed by a panel of golf industry leaders, including representatives of the Club Managers Association of America, Golf Course Builders Association of America and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America.

The recognized courses are:

“There is a wonderful breadth of work represented in these projects, and I congratulate the facilities and the architects they have worked with,” ASGCA President Jan Bel Jan said. “There are now more than 100 total golf facilities profiled by the Design Excellence Recognition Program that illustrate the art and science of golf course architecture. In each case, it is the golfers and the host community who benefit from these tremendous partnerships.”

  • Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge Short Game Area, Orlando, Florida/Thad Layton, ASGCA and Brandon Johnson, ASGCA
    Bay Hill’s existing short game area was quite small for such a large club that plays host to one of the premier events on The PGA Tour, The Arnold Palmer Invitational. To make room for the desired new short game area, the ninth hole of Bay Hill’s Charger Nine was shortened from 467 yards into a dynamic, driveable par four of 308 yards. This shift freed up two acres of prime ground adjacent to the clubhouse that was subsequently reshaped into a robust short game practice facility featuring four unique greens ranging in size from 12,500 sf to 1,800 sf, seven distinctive bunkers each constructed in different shapes, sizes and depths (including an homage to the Road Hole bunker), and various swales and ridges cloaked in equal parts fairway and rough. As an added bonus, the entire short game area is an experimental lab for Chris Flynn, Bay Hill’s head golf course superintendent, to test different grass types and bunker liners for future use on the Championship Course.
  • The Dunes Putting Course at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, Mexico/Paul Cowley, ASGCA
    The course occupies three acres of turf that was formally the second half of the old 18th hole of the Dunes Course. It enjoys some of the best views and setting of the golf complex and also serves as an event and activity lawn. The putting course has 15 holes consisting of 3 par 2’s and 12 par 3’s that vary in length from 14-to-64 yds.
    The course is 508 yards long and is laid out in a continuous loop of grass cut at green height to create fairways and green areas. The surrounding turf is cut at fairway height. There is 25’ of elevation change on the course and the turf is Seaside Paspalum. Each of the 15 designated ‘green’ areas are big enough for three-to-five pin locations. The course is designed to be played in reverse on alternate days. This creates a total of 30 different holes, as a downhill hole one day becomes an uphill hole the next.
    The course has a scorecard for the two 15-hole loops designated the East and West courses. Each hole carries a handicap rating which allows for better competition between skill sets. Players of all levels find the course challenging and also a lot of fun – two qualities that when combined create the best golf experience.
  • Maple Lane Golf Club, Sterling Heights, Michigan/Raymond Hearn, ASGCA
    The golf course suffers from flooding during the spring and after large rain events. During summer droughts the golf course can run short of irrigation water. The golf course owners desired a Master Plan that would best provide future economic, environmental and cultural sustainability. They also desired new golf and non-golf amenities that would be appealing to women, men, different ages, varied golfer skill levels and different cultures. To accomplish these goals, a Master Plan was developed for the golf course that reduced the course from 54 to 27 holes and includes:
  • A new regulation 18-hole golf course with a 6-tee system.
  • New turfgrass species that require less irrigation and fertilizer.
  • Residential opportunities for the engineer / land planner to design surrounding the new golf course.
  • A new, lighted 9-hole par 3 course.
  • A storm water retention/detention network on the new golf course that maximizes rainfall capture for irrigation use.
  • Shorter golf holes that function better in the floodplain.
  • McLemore Club, Rising Fawn, Georgia/Bill Bergin, ASGCA and Rees Jones, ASGCA, Fellow
    During the recent renovation to McLemore, it was determined that the area previously allocated for the yet-to-be-built clubhouse was inadequate. The space previously assigned to the clubhouse lacked parking and missed out on the incredible views inherent to this property. Deciding to move the clubhouse to the site of the original 18th hole meant a completely new finishing hole had to be located and designed east of the original routing on land that could be considered ill-suited for golf.
    The new 18th hole was shifted east 400 feet and dropped down over 100 feet to the edge of practically a sheer drop above McLemore Cove. Access to the new hole was challenging, and all seven acres of timber had to be burned on site and a new bridge was placed by helicopter. Minimal blasting was necessary to create a workable set of tees and all excavated rock was utilized to build up and level the eastern side of the fairway.
  • TPC Colorado, Berthoud, Colorado/Arthur Schaupeter, ASGCA
      How do you provide a fun, engaging golf experience for recreational players 51 weeks of the year, and a challenging PGA Tour-caliber track one week of the year? Accommodating spectators, hospitality tents, parking and the rest of the infrastructure needed for the event were part of the considerations.
    Solutions included:
  • Provide seven tees setting course length from 4,157 to 7,991 yards.
  • 55 acres of fairway to create a lot of fairway width space to play for recreational players.
  • Larger, undulating greens gives recreational players a better chance at hitting the green while creating strategic hole locations for tour players.
  • Unique bunkering scheme combines stacked sod wall bunkers with traditional shaped bunkers for more strategic variety and interest.
  • The combination of wider fairways, larger greens and a diversity of greenside influences to create more angles of approach, strategic variety and interest for all players.
  • University Club of Milwaukee, Milwaukee/Andy Staples, ASGCA
    The University Club of Milwaukee (1921, Tom Bendelow) had always lacked adequate practice facilities; aside from the course itself, the only offering for members was a short and narrow practice range. Fortunately for the Club, the largely intact original design of the course offered a compelling experience and historic story as well as a partnership with Marquette University’s Men’s Golf team.
    By capitalizing on a 10-acre parcel of undeveloped forest terrain in the center of the property, modifying the tees of #13 and #16, as well as completely rebuilding hole #12, the grand vision for the new practice facility came to life.
    The U. Club now boasts a short, four-hole practice course, a competition wedge range, a myriad of shot options to include short and long sand and grass bunker practice, uneven lies in both fairway and rough, high lobs, low runs, up and down hill looks, as well as a consistently sloped putting green for putting stroke practice.