Jay Morrish, a Past President and Fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), died March 2, 2015. He was 78. ASGCA members and the golf industry will remember Morrish’s design work around the world, as well as his service to ASGCA and the game of golf.
“Golf Course Architecture is a very subjective field of endeavor, and that is good. The game of golf would be distressingly boring if all golf course architects embraced similar design philosophies. Long live diversity!” Jay Morrish, ASGCA Fellow
Morrish received a degree in landscape and turf management from Colorado State University, then soon joined the construction team on the Robert Trent Jones-designed Spyglass Hill course in Pebble Beach, California. He continued to work as construction superintendent on Jones’ courses until joining Desmond Muirhead as a designer in 1967.
Morrish then went to work as a designer with Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA Fellow in 1972. After 10 years he went off on his own with PGA Tour player Tom Weiskopf. Their 12-year partnership generated some two dozen high-profile courses, including Loch Lomond in Scotland.
In the mid 1990’s Morrish went completely on his own and designed many new golf courses including Tehama for Clint Eastwood in Carmel, California; Stone Canyon, Tuscon, Arizona and Pine Dunes, Frankston, Texas. All of these were done with the assistance of his son, Carter Morrish.
Other notable designs from Morrish include: TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona; TPC Las Colinas, Irving, Texas; Troon Golf and Country Club, Scottsdale, Arizona; and Forest Highlands, Flagstaff, Arizona. He was also active around the world, designing courses in Spain, Canada, Australia, and Japan.
“Jay Morrish was a stalwart who was admired by everyone,” ASGCA President Lee Schmidt said. “His work was outstanding, and he was funny and smart. As an architect, he positively impacted the world of golf course design, and as ASGCA President he advanced the organization. When Jay spoke, people listened.”
Morrish became an ASGCA member in 1989 and served as President in 2002-03. Taking over shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 provided a unique set of challenges, he later recalled.
“The United States was still in shock and we were all exploring uncharted waters as to ways of communicating, traveling and doing business,” Morrish said at the time. “Thankfully, ASGCA members were a strong group with great imagination and perseverance.”
Morrish is survived by his wife, Louise; children, Carter and Kim, son-in-law, Brian Coder; and grandchildren, Megan and Spencer Coder.
Comments on the death of Jay Morrish, ASGCA Fellow
ASGCA Vice President Steve Smyers:
“I am deeply saddened by this news. Jay and I were both accepted into the ASGCA in the same year. We were class mates but more than that we were friends.
“Jay was the experienced Architect and I the rookie. Jay kindly became a mentor to me. He was always there to guide and mentor me through all the situations that we as Architects are confronted with.
“Jay during his career was responsible for the creation of many of most highly regarded and respected golf courses that exist in the world today. He was a great Architect, a wonderful story teller, a tremendous friend, and a fabulous loving and caring husband and father.
“I will miss him tremendously. He, Louise and their family will be in my thoughts and prayers.”
ASGCA Past President Doug Carrick:
“Jay Morrish was without a doubt one of the most talented and respected golf course architects of all time. It is no accident that two of golf’s most legendary players, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, wanted to work along side Jay. He had a deep understanding and passion for the game of golf. He was a master at creating golf courses with tremendous variety and thought provoking strategies and his designs were always sympathetic to the natural landscape on which they sat. In addition to his incredible talent and vision, Jay was simply a great guy to be around. He was a great story teller with a brilliant sense of humour.
“I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to co-design the Angus Glen North Golf Course with Jay near Toronto. It was an invaluable experience for me to learn from a true master of golf course architecture. I will miss my friend, as will so many others in the ASGCA and the golf industry.
“My sincere condolences go out to Jay’s wife Louise and to all of his close friends and family.”
ASGCA Past President Bob Cupp:
“I’m very proud of my professional association with Jay, but even more my friendship with him over these many years. He was a grand friend and storyteller. His humor was amazing. Jay could share the history of a topic that was not only factual, but tagged with humor, so everybody remembered. I’m just sorry I will not hear them firsthand anymore.”
“Just beneath the surface of Jay’s humble expression was a lion-hearted man of great talent, courage and dignity. And within the quiet space in his heart was immeasurable love for the people, places and things he treasured most…South Africa, an integrity-based life, his friends, his family, and always and forever, Louise.”
ASGCA Past President John LaFoy, ASGCA Fellow:
“The great thing about Jay, is that all of my memories of him will put a smile on my face, so I look forward to many more smiles over the years as we all recount the number of ways Jay touched our lives. I will sure miss more of his big game hunting stories, although I will treasure the ones that I still have. Most of all I will just miss Jay. He lived life to the fullest, and there is not question in my mind that he has indeed had lunch with his great friend, Byron Nelson!”
“I first had the chance to work with Jay when I collaborated with Desmond Muirhead on Muirfield Village Golf Club in the early 1970s and he was working with Desmond. When I started to design courses on my own, Jay and Bob Cupp joined me and the three of us worked together for years. Jay was Mister Outside and Bob was Mister Inside. They were a great combination. Jay did such a wonderful job in the field. He was very creative, very imaginative, and he loved the game of golf—and that showed in his work. Jay was just a tremendous guy and great fun to be with!
“Jay left our organization near the end of 1983, but before he did, he put his thumbprint on a number of great golf courses, such as Glen Abbey and Shoal Creek. He has been a mainstay and a backbone of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, and a true champion for those in the golf course design business. We will miss Jay greatly, as will so many people—in and outside of our industry—whose lives were touched by him. Barbara and I send our most heartfelt condolences to his wife Louise and their family.”
Paul Fullmer, retired ASGCA Executive Secretary:
“Jay Morrish was a man who knew how to excel in everything he did, whether it was golf course design or big-game hunting (his home included more than 100 animals he tracked down around the world). Looking back at his presidency, Jay was the right captain for ASGCA during a tumultuous period. The world was changing and there was great uncertainty. Jay provided the senior leadership ASGCA needed.”