Bob Cupp, a Past President and Fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), died Aug. 19, 2016. He was 76. ASGCA members and the golf industry will remember Cupp’s design work around the world, as well as his service to ASGCA and the game of golf.
“Golf is a fun game; it is why 99% of us continue to play. I hope to lead more people – especially families – to play more golf, more often, for the sheer fun of the game.” Bob Cupp, ASGCA Fellow
Cupp headed Bob Cupp, Inc. in Atlanta. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami and a Masters in Fine Arts from the U.S. Army Extension Service.
After a brief career as a professional golfer, Cupp began designing golf courses. He worked with Jack Nicklaus, ASGCA Fellow, as a senior designer for more than 15 years before forming his own firm. His courses have hosted more than 50 national and international championships and in 1992 Golf World Magazine recognized Cupp as it’s first-ever Golf Architect of the Year. His work over the years included joint projects with his son, Bobby, a golf course architect and builder.
A published author, Cupp wrote The Edict; a novel from the beginnings of golf, for Random House. He also co-authored Golf’s Grand Design, a conversation on the history and evolution of golf course architecture and companion book to the PBS television show of the same name, with Golf Digest Architecture Senior Editor Ron Whitten.
An artist (Cupp illustrated Ted Williams’ instructional book, The Science of Hitting), blacksmith, writer and musician, Cupp himself wrote that in recent years he continued, “to draw and paint, play golf, build furniture, sing, play the guitar and torture a cello.”
“Bob Cupp was a renaissance man,” said ASGCA President Greg Martin. “He was a poet and author, golf course architect and musician, he loved to tell tales and offer opinions. Bob was a famed golf course architect, mentor to many and friend to all. As a member and as ASGCA President, he provided lyrical perspective during some deeply challenging years.
“On behalf of the ASGCA, we offer our deepest condolences to Bob’s family – know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Bob was an important part of this organization, and more importantly, he was a cherished member of the ASGCA family.”
With more than 40 years as a golf course architect, Cupp’s course list included: Liberty National Golf Course, Jersey City, New Jersey; Beacon Hall, Ontario, Canada; Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Portland, Oregon; Crosswater Golf Club, Sunriver, Oregon; Old Waverly Country Club, West Point, Mississippi (with Jerry Pate); and Hawks Ridge Golf Club, Ball Ground, Georgia.
Cupp became an ASGCA member in 1990 and served as President in 2012-13.
Bob is survived by his wife, Pamela Amy-Cupp, their two children, Sengens and Foster Amy-Cupp and his children, Robert E. Cupp Jr., Caren Cupp, Laura Cupp and his seven grandchildren.
Arrangements are pending. A memorial service is also being planned for a date in September.
Comments on the death of Bob Cupp, ASGCA Fellow:
Last night, we lost one of the great friends of golf in my friend, Bob Cupp. Bob and I worked together for more than 20 years. He spent many years alongside me at Nicklaus Design and Bob continued to excel when he went out on his own. Bob was terrific at what he did and added so much pleasure to the game not only through his designs, but also with his fun-loving personality and charm. We hope that Bob will be remembered for all the great things he did, and how he lived his life, which in my opinion was very special. Barbara and I send our condolences to Pam and the rest of Bob’s family.
Golf Course Architecture is a small world. As we know, only a select group are able to practice our profession. Bob Cupp was not only a leader within our world, but he brought so much more to our industry than beautiful golf courses. To say that he was my mentor is accurate, but it is also too limited. The lessons learned from Bob Cupp have fermented and ripened over the years in ways I never could have imagined. Bob Cupp lived a big full life, and my life is fuller for having been guided by such a talented, generous man.
As I reflect on the man I knew, I am moved to offer a sincere thank you. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t recognize how amazing it is to get up and look forward to the chance to work on another golf course. My gratitude to Bob for providing the opportunity to share this small world is endless.
I am very saddened to hear about the passing of our very good friend and ASGCA Past President Bob Cupp.
I first met Bob in 1986 when he was working on his first solo course design at Beacon Hall in Aurora, Canada. I remember him asking me why I was in the golf design business.
I replied, “Because I love the game of golf” and he simply said, “Right answer!” Bob was passionate about the game of golf and about the design of golf courses, but he had so much more depth and compassion as a person. He has often been described as a “Renaissance Man” because he possessed so many incredible talents. He was an accomplished artist, musician, writer, cabinet maker and an avid model railroad collector and builder.
Bob’s legacy as a golf course architect is truly outstanding. His course designs throughout the world illustrate his flair for design, his versatility as a designer and his sensitivity for the environment. He was simply one of the best to ever practice the profession golf course architecture.
As a truly close friend they don’t come any better. He had a wonderful sense of humour, he loved to share jokes and funny stories and compare notes on family happenings.
I value the time and friendship that we shared for more than 30 years. Bob will be sadly missed by his family, by his clients and by his many, many friends.
My deepest condolences to his wife Pam Amy Cupp and all of his children, whom Bob loved more than words can express.
Bob has been that special friend in my life for nearly 38 years. He was my guiding light as I ventured from golf course maintenance to golf course design. He alone allowed me to realize that dream. He taught me one masterpiece at a time. I never tired of listening to and learning from his wisdom about golf and about life. As we traveled millions of miles together we covered every nook and cranny of our lives. We laughed and cried together through life’s ups and downs.
I am so proud to have walked behind Bob down those many centerlines as he created so many wonderful golf holes. More importantly, I cherish the centerlines of life that we traveled through, almost seeming as one. He will always be my special hero. Without him I would have missed out on a lifetime of memories and experiences. I owe meeting the love of my life, my wife Sarah, to Bob and Pam. I honestly believe it was because of Pam that Bob fulfilled so many of his personal and professional goals. She has always been there, his rock, his love, and by all means his equal. Professional goals are important and certainly have great meaning, but friendship and love are the most important elements of our lives.
I love you Bob and Pam, with every fiber of my being. Thank you for loving me back, for always being there through thick and thin.
I had the fortune to work for Bob from 1989-97. He was the ideal mentor, brilliant in his approach to golf course design. He was a tireless worker and seemed to excel at everything – athletically, artistically, musically, storytelling, woodworking, and, of course, golf course design.
I spent the majority of the eight years working in his office, preparing plans, golf documents and cost estimates. In 1997 he encouraged me to round out my industry experience by taking a job in golf course construction. It was kind of like the papa bird pushing the baby bird out of the nest. My three years spent in construction were invaluable and gave me more confidence for my re-entry into golf course design. I attribute my years with Bob as the foundation for my golf course design career.
In the boom years of the early-mid 1990’s Bob had a torturous work schedule, 3-5 days of travel per week and he did not get to the office very often. It was much more calm and quiet for him to work from his home office and on the long flights. This is where he did his best work and it is amazing how much work he could churn out. The challenge, in these days before e-mail and electronic files/drawings, was how to get his work transferred to the office. He found the following solution: upon Bob’s return from trips he would stuff his work bag with drawings, projects and tasks for us to complete and put the bag in the “trash”. The “trash” pick-up spot was outside his townhouse inside a latched doorway. We had to make sure someone “picked up the trash” before the actual trash collectors came and might have inadvertently picked up the bag for disposal. This was incentive to get to work early. Most people wake up in the morning with the delightful smell of a good cup of coffee. I spent countless mornings waking up to the smell of Bob’s trash….and the gifts within his work bag.
Ron Whitten, Senior Editor, Architecture, Golf Digest
Bob Cupp not only designed golf courses, incredible ones including Crosswater and Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon, Old Waverly in Mississippi, Liberty National in New Jersey, Indianwood New in Michigan, Beacon Hall and Mad River in Canada, and Marietta, Settindown Creek, Brookhaven and Hawks Ridge, all near Atlanta, he also designed his home, built most of the furniture in it, raised a second family, wrote a novel, painted and sculpted, worked on model railroads, played guitar and sang in the local choir. A good friend for over 30 years, Bob was absolutely my favorite Renaissance Man in golf. It’s a shame Tom Doak had already called his company Renaissance Golf. That would have been the perfect name for Bob’s firm.