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- Graham Marsh
Graham Marsh, nicknamed “Swampy,” was a fine cricketer as a young man – his younger brother Rodney was a batsman/wicket-keeper for Australia from 1970 to 1984 – and he trained as a mathematics teacher at Claremont Teachers College after graduating from the University of Western Australia.
He turned professional in 1969 and was a leading player on the Australasian, Japanese and European tours during the 1970s and 1980s, winning over sixty tournaments – including the Heritage Classic on the PGA Tour in 1977 – during a successful playing career. Graham also competed on the Champions Tour, claiming victory in the 1997 US Senior Open.
A former chairman of the PGA Tour of Australasia, Graham was awarded an MBE in 1984 for services to golf. Two years later, he formed Graham Marsh Golf Design and his new career as a golf course architect was soon up and running. In 1987, Ross Watson and Cameron Sinclair joined Marsh's newly formed company and they remained as associates until leaving to form their own company, Sinclair in 1990 and Watson a year later.
The company’s early projects during the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s were concentrated in Australia, and new designs such as Secret Harbour, Terrey Hills and The Vines are still as well regarded now as when they were first introduced to the golfing public more than twenty years ago.
Marsh has also worked extensively in China and Japan, with around ten courses to his name in those countries. A similar number can also be found in southeast Asia, primarily in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Undoubtedly, Graham’s most high profile designs are in the United States, where he fashioned the cliff top course at Sutton Bay in Agar, South Dakota, overlooking the tranquil waters of Lake Oahe. This layout opened in 1999 and within a year the architect had picked up another couple of US assignments, fashioning courses at Old Silo Golf Club in Kentucky and Wild Marsh in Minnesota.
His next American design took a while to arrive, appearing in 2010 at The Prairie Club in Valentine, Nebraska a decade later. The golf facility lies within a huge property in Snake River Canyon with 18 holes designed by Tom Lehman and Chris Brands (the Dunes), 18 holes from Graham (the Pines) and a 10-hole par three track laid out by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackleford.
In Europe, Graham has only completed a couple of projects: Habsberg in Germany in 2003 and Kuneticka Hora in the Czech Republic four years later. More recently, he redesigned the floodlit course at Ras Al Hamra in Oman which opened in 2016 and he co-designed the Al Houara course near Tangier in Morocco with Vijay Singh in 2019.
From Planetgolf.com: Australian tour player turned golf architect, Graham Marsh is best known internationally for having designed the beautiful Sutton Bay Club in South Dakota and the Pines Course at the Prairie Club in Nebraska.
Both Sutton Bay and Prairie Club were remarkable design projects, and Marsh poured his energies into crafting the finest courses he could out of land forms that threw up endless possibilities
His first course at Sutton Bay is sadly no longer in play, a subsequent layout was created for the club later on higher, more stable ground. Neither course displayed quite the routing sophistication of sandhills standouts like Sand Hills and Ballyneal, but both were good and compare favourably to other layouts in the area.
In Australia, Graham Marsh has designed a number of solid 'championship' courses, with the likes of The Vines and Secret Harbour near Perth, Twin Creeks and Terrey Hills in Sydney, Paradise Palms and Robina Woods in Queensland and Eynesbury in Victoria all decent layouts.