- Top 100
- Bob Cupp
Bob graduated from the University of Miami with a degree in Art in 1961 before serving with the military at Fort Richardson in Alaska. During his term of service, he earned a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Alaska through an Army extension program then moved back to Miami with his wife and young family.
He had visions of becoming a Tour pro but settled for a job in an advertising agency then took over the pro shop at a local public course, where he became involved in making course improvements. In 1968, he designed a second nine at the Homestead Air Force Base, which was quickly followed by the layout at Costa del Sol, next to the Trump National Doral complex.
Cupp studied agronomy at Dade Community College, gaining an associate degree in turf management, and started a golf design business in Miami. He remained active on the art front, illustrating the classic baseball instruction book, “The Science of Hitting” by Ted Williams. The book’s co-author was a Sports Illustrated writer named John Underwood, who introduced Bob to Jack Nicklaus.
In 1971, the year the baseball book was published, Cupp joined Jack’s newly formed design firm, Golden Bear, and he remained as the firm’s senior designer for more than fifteen years. When he left to form his own company, Bob was joined by Billy Fuller (a former superintendent at Augusta National) as a design associate and agronomist specialist and over twenty years the two men worked together on almost a hundred courses.
A list of “Cupp’s Greatest Hits” includes the likes of Liberty National in New Jersey, both courses at Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon, Old Waverly in Mississippi, the New course at Indianwood in Michigan, Beacon Hall and Glen Abbey in Canada, and both 18-hole layouts at East Sussex National in England.
In 1992, Golf World magazine recognized Cupp as its first Golf Architect of the Year. His son Bobby followed him into the profession and he now fronts the family design business. Bob became a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1990, serving on the organization’s executive committee before holding the office of president in 2012-13.
Bob Cupp, whose courses hosted more than fifty national and international championships, died in 2016 of pancreatic cancer in home hospice care in Atlanta, aged 76. He’s survived by his wife Pamela Amy-Cupp, five children and seven grandchildren
“Bob Cupp not only designed golf courses… 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,” wrote Ron Whitten, senior editor of architecture for Golf Digest magazine, in an online tribute when the architect passed away. “A good friend for over thirty years, Bob was absolutely my favorite Renaissance Man in golf.”
ASGCA: A published author, Cupp wrote The Edict: a novel from the beginnings of golf in 2007. He also co-authored Golf’s Grand Design , The Evolution of Golf Architecture in America, a conversation on the history and evolution of golf course architecture and companion book to the PBS television show of the same name with Ron Whitten in 2012.
An artist, 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 Past President Greg Martin. “He was a poet and author, golf course architect and musician. He also 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.”
Brad Klein Golfweek: “Not many people get to design golf courses, write a novel, build home furniture, blacksmith on their own forge, play guitar and sing in a choir and get commissioned to paint the history of Alaska.
Bob Cupp was one of those rare people who stayed busy, productive, creative and curious and did it all at a high level of craftsmanship. He also was deeply respected by his golf design colleagues.
He was a big man with big dreams who hit the ball a very long way and even tried his hand as a professional golfer before turning to course design.
His effusive personality also lent itself readily to collaboration with other designers, which led to such distinctive designs as Beacon Hall in Ontario (with Tom McBroom) and Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek and Witch Hollow Courses) in Oregon (with John Fought).
Cupp was not afraid to move dirt to make a hole better. But he also appreciated the nature of the site on which he was working. If Cupp ever got bored, he never showed it. He was quick to study and just as quick to mentor.
There was nothing marginal about his artistic talents. The man could draw like few of his colleagues. After all, he had studied the craft carefully, producing what I have always thought to be his most impressive creation, murals depicting the history of Alaska, a commission dating to 1964-65 that to this day hang in the capitol in Juneau.”