Golf architect and writer Dr Michael Hurdzan has been selected as the 2007 recipient of the American Society of Golf Course Architects' (ASGCA) highest honour, the Donald Ross Award. Previous winners of the award include Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Hurdzan will be the 32nd winner of the Donald Ross Award since ASGCA founder Robert Trent Jones became the first nominee in 1976.
Hurdzan told GCA: "I can say without hesitation that this is the biggest thing that could happen in my professional life, especially since it comes from so many friends and colleagues that know me all too well. I guess that some of the better things I have done make up for some of the more annoying things I have been rumoured to do. Whatever the process, I am thrilled with the award. What makes it especially great for me is that I know how much they deliberate over this award." "Mike Hurdzan is one of the most respected names in the golf industry," said ASGCA president Greg Muirhead. "His tireless promotion of what's good and important about golf course architecture – environmental stewardship, making the game accessible to more players – makes him the perfect recipient for the Ross Award. No-one deserves this award more." Hurdzan became a member of ASGCA in 1974 and served as president in 1984-1985, and has and continues to serve on various committees within the organisation. He has written six books, including his textbook Golf Course Architecture: Design, Construction and Renovation which as been translated into German, Korean and Chinese.
Hurdzan's firm, which he runs jointly with former associate Dana Fry, has recently built the highly praised Erin Hills golf course in Wisconsin, as well as being close to completing its first European course in Italy. "We have four projects here in the States, one in Korea, two in China and we're just finishing a new course, I Roveri, near Turin in Italy," he told GCA. "We're thrilled to have our first course in Europe. We have built the course in association with a very gifted young Italian golfer and golf architect called Virginia Costa." Hurdzan acknowledges the slowdown in golf growth in USA, but reckons that other markets are picking up the slack. "I think that without question there has been a slowdown in development in North America," he said.
"But there is an even greater acceleration in Asia and South America. And we are getting lots of interest from Korea and China. People ask which must come first – courses or golfers? I believe that if you build a golf course, you'll make golfers. Some of the greatest players in the world now are from countries with no history in the game. Take the Korean women who are so powerful on the LPGA tour. The Koreans have been very smart. They looked at all the mistakes the Japanese made ten or twenty years ago and vowed not to repeat them." "People are recognising the whole issue of global warming," Hurdzan said. "And as we see our population centres grow we know there has to be a limit on water usage. During the second world war we had rationing.
Maybe we'll get to the point where you'll be charged for water! Environmentalists have been critical of golf courses and have forced us to rethink. Golf courses have become much better environments as a result."