Three Kings of Course Design: Tom Weiskopf & Jay Morrish
Sometimes two people just click and create greatness when they come together… Jordan and Pippen. Simon & Garfunkel. Batman and Robin. And of course, golf course designers Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. The duo’s 14-year partnership resulted in the creation or upgrade of more than 25 amazing courses featuring the yin and yang from both men.
A fierce competitor, Tom Weiskopf was a household name on the PGA Tour in the 1970s with 16 career wins, including the 1973 British Open. As his playing career wound down, Weiskopf began to focus most of his attention on course design. His background as a successful player helped fuel his imagination while designing the magnificent layouts with Jay Morrish.
Morrish worked as an apprentice to the legendary Robert Trent Jones before spending a decade on Jack Nicklaus’ design team. In 1985, Morrish joined Weiskopf, and the two created some of the world’s most cherished courses.
Weiskopf/Morrish courses are designed to avoid disturbing too much of the innate environment. Trees, water features, dramatic elevation changes and other native vegetation are all organic design elements found on a typical Weiskopf/Morrish course.
“My courses do not intimidate,” Weiskopf says. “Instead, they encourage the player to play well and become more open to the enjoyable aspects of the game.”
One well-known element of a Weiskopf/Morrish course is a driveable par-4 hole. The excitement of a hole that can have a player score an improbable, but exhilarating hole-in-one, yet still hold the potential of a devastating eight is a staple of most Weiskopf/Morrish courses.
They’ve left us with some spectacular fairways and greens, but Weiskopf and Morrish have since parted ways, though they still currently design courses separately. Both men have been honored for their work in course architecture over the years. Weiskopf was named golf’s “Architect of the Year” by Golf World Magazine in 1996. Morrish served as President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects from 2002-04 and was recently honored with the title of Fellow, a very prestigious honor that has only been bestowed on 27 members.
Our three favorite Weiskopf/Morrish courses are:
1. The TPC of Scottsdale (Scottsdale, AZ) – The TPC of Scottsdale plays through the Arizona desert and is surrounded by high grass mounds to accentuate the stadium feel. The finishing four holes are dynamic and thrilling, and the par-3 16th hole – known as one of the PGA Tour’s rowdiest holes – will have you imagining you’re surrounded by 30,000 screaming fans.
2. Buffalo Creek Golf Club (Rockwall, TX) – Buffalo Creek has been named one of the top courses in Texas for years and has been host to USGA events of all levels of play. It offers a traditional, contemporary design that many feel tests those who dare to challenge it.
3. Forest Dunes Golf Club (Roscommon, MI) – Forest Dunes weaves through the Huron National Forest and provides a true test of one’s skill. Players encounter grasslands, sand dunes, and pine forests throughout their round.
Here are some other premier designs by Weiskopf and Morrish featured on GolfNow:
- Troon North Golf Club – Scottsdale
- The Foothills Golf Club – Phoenix
- The Golf Club at Vistoso – Tucson
- The Ridge at Castle Pines North – Castle Rock
- Harbor Club on Lake Oconee – Greensboro
- Shanty Creek (Cedar River Course) – Bellaire
- The Resort Course at La Cantera– San Antonio
Featured image of TPC Scottsdale courtesy of PacificLinks.com.