Golf Course Architecture - Issue 64, April 2021

55 MUNI C I PAL GOL F restoration: an organisation called the National Links Trust, founded by golf architect Mike McCartin, has taken on the management of the course (and two other DC munis, Langston and Rock Creek Park) and has grand, multi-million dollar plans to restore them to their former glory – but critically, still to operate as Everyman municipal golf courses, not to turn them into some kind of ritzy country club. In San Fransisco, the scheme to restore Alister MacKenzie’s Sharp Park continues apace: architects Tom Doak and Jay Blasi have already returned the tenth and eighteenth greens to something like what MacKenzie intended. And in Orlando, what is in many ways the guiding light for many of these muni projects continues to operate happily with a full tee sheet. The Winter Park nine holer, in what is Orlando’s toniest suburb, might not have quite so grand an architectural heritage as many of our other examples. But, founded in 1914, its 2016 renovation by architects Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns was so acclaimed that the course has never looked back. The Winter Park course feels like a true part of its community: there are no fences separating the course from the rest of its neighbourhood, railway lines run along one side of it, so passengers get a clear view of golfers enjoying their games. And, though the site is pancake f lat, the clever design work of Johns and Rhebb, focused almost entirely on creating interest by way of contoured greens, means that Winter Park has become famous, with golf writers around the world trumpeting its values. What links all these projects is that there is something a little bit special about the golf course, its design, heritage or location. Whether it is Cleeve Hill, with views for many miles over the Cotswolds and a Tom Morris heritage, Cobbs Creek, designed by Hugh Wilson of Merion fame, Sharp Park, designed by Alister MacKenzie, or Winter Park, located slap bang in the middle of the nicest part of Orlando, these are not just workaday munis. It is, if you like, proof of something that GCA has been wittering on about throughout its lifetime: it is the golf course, its design and sense of place above all else that makes people want to play golf. That might seem to be a bleak assessment for anyone trying to revitalise a ‘Joe Sixpack’ muni, but the truth is that virtually every golf course has something special about it. Find it, focus on it, and live it. GCA Jim Wagner of Hanse Course Design could break ground on restoration work at Cobbs Creek in Philadelphia this year “ Virtually every golf course has something special about it. Find it, focus on it, and live it”