- Full Name
- Kyle Donald Phillips
- Visit Website
- Year of Birth
- Place Born
- Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Like many great architects, Kyle Phillips is also a student of the past, and his appreciation of both Tom Simpson and Harry Colt has resulted in his sympathetic new millennium remodelling of the main course at Morfontaine in France and at Hilversumsche in The Netherlands.
Kyle Phillips graduated from Kansas State University in 1981 with a degree in Landscape Architecture. That same year, he began his career in golf working with Robert Trent Jones Junior, eventually rising from the position of Design Associate to Vice President.
During his time with RTJII, Phillips was responsible for many of the company’s European designs, including courses like Penha Longa in Portugal, The Wisley in England and Saint Donat in France. He also oversaw Caribbean projects at Royal Westmoreland, Four Seasons Nevis and Tierra del Sol in Aruba.
In 1997, he started his own company, Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design. His close rapport with Mark Parsinen, one of the developers who he’d recently worked with at Granite Bay Golf Club in California, led to him designing the critically acclaimed links at Kingsbarns in Scotland.
Kingbarns was a really big break for Kyle Phillips at the start of the new millennium, propelling him onto golf design’s world stage, and further UK commissions quickly came his way via The Grove in Hertfordshire and Dundonald Links on the west coast of Scotland.
On the wider European front, Phillips was also busy laying out courses in The Netherlands and Austria (at Laage Vuursche in 2000 and Eichenheim in 2001) before he completed a couple of 36-hole projects at the end of the decade at the PGA of Sweden National complex near Malmö and the Verdura Resort in Sicily.
Further afield, Phillips also fashioned Al Maaden in Marrakech, Morocco (2010), Yas Links in the United Arab Emirates (2010) and South Cape Club in South Korea (2013) and he’s since returned to Morocco and The Netherlands to design the Tazegzout course near Agadir (in 2014) and the 18-hole Bernardus layout (in 2018).
Like many great architects, Phillips is also a student of the past, and his appreciation of both Tom Simpson and Harry Colt has resulted in his sympathetic new millennium remodelling of the main course at Morfontaine in France and at Hilversumsche in The Netherlands.
His respect for Robert Trent Jones is also reflected in the renovation work he’s carried out at Real Valderrama and Real Las Brisas on Spain’s Costa del Sol. Back in the United States, the bulk of the Phillips endeavours have been based on restoration and renovation projects, mainly within his home state of California.
The layout at the California Club of San Francisco was impressively upgraded in 2014 and both the Tom Nicholl course at Menlo Country Club (opened first in 1917) and the Norman Macbeth course at Wilshire Country Club (dating back to 1919) have since undergone successful restoration programs.
Phillips, a long-standing a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, now has more than thirty-five years of experience in the business, designing courses in over thirty countries on five continents, earning the reputation of being able to develop creative design solutions for a wide variety of environmental and planning considerations.
Each course that he designs is unique; nothing is built to a formula. This originates from his understanding that the character and personality of a layout is largely acquired from the existing natural features of a property, in addition to its location and history – and where natural landforms don’t exist, Phillips has demonstrated a fantastic ability to fashion natural looking contours that do nothing but enhance the aesthetic appeal of the property.
In a golfcoursearchitecture.net interview in 2006, Kyle Phillips gave the following reply in response to the question “What does strategic design mean to you?”
“Strategic design incorporates options – alternative angles of play. The next question is what elements do you use to create strategy? It seems as though many modern courses have gotten into a rut of using only water, bunkers or trees to create that strategy, while forgetting about contours and landforms. Yes, golf is more of an aerial game today, but the kind of contours seen on links courses, even if it’s not a hard-running surface, can still come into play. You can still create opportunities for the ball to run away, if it’s not struck just right, into areas the player would really rather not find himself. I like to emphasise the use of contours to create strategy.
When I began designing courses, I really liked building holes with water. Now, I have great respect for courses that don’t have any water. I think it’s due to playing and studying the great links courses of the British Isles during my work in Europe over the past 20 years. I have become more interested in the strategic use of landforms and have learned so much from the strategy of the courses and the origins of the game. This is where the spirit of golf dwells.”
In a Jay Flemma article in GolfCourseTrades.com in February 2017, Kyle Phillips had this to say about his work at The California Golf Club of San Francisco:
“The entire course was taken back to dirt, and every hole was rebuilt and reconstructed in the flavor of 1928 Alister MacKenzie. Happily, this piece of property had more natural features and better movement in the ground than anything I had worked on before.”
“I had a lot of help,” stated a grateful Phillips. “Before I got there, they had already removed a great many trees, and had opened up more light all over the course. That was a big advantage. Also, they do a fantastic job with conditioning. The green surrounds are closely cut, so around almost every green you can putt, bump and run, pitch and check, or lob wedge. You have a broad range of options, and that makes for exciting golf where everyone as a chance to score well no matter what their ability.”
The layout at Al Maaden Golf Resort is the centrepiece of a residential development that surrounds the perimeter of the course that's laid out on a flat landscape with fairways routed uniquely around a couple of geometric water features...
Shortly after a soft opening in the summer of 2018, it was announced that Bernardus will host three editions of the KLM Open on the European Tour from 2020 onwards...
The California Golf Club of San Francisco can now boast tournament measurements. From the new back tees, which are aptly called Venturi, the course can be stretched to more than 7,200 yards.
Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento was founded in 1916 and the original John Black-designed course underwent several large-scale renovations before a major redesign by Kyle Phillips in 2006. Ten years later, the club hosted its fifth USGA event, the 2015 U.S. Senior Open.
Owned by Loch Lomond Golf Club, Dundonald is their newest addition. Kyle Phillips designed this natural links course and it's destined for life in the Top 100.
When Kyle Phillips gets involved in golf design, everyone expects something special. Eichenheim is enchanting and perhaps the best new Austrian course.
Hilversumsche Golf Club is one of the most exclusive clubs in the Netherlands but thankfully you can still get a midweek game if you book in advance.
Totally redesigned in 2005 by Kyle Phillips, Robert Trent Jones Senior's Championship course at Incline Village opened in 1964 and it's complemented by the short, par 58 Mountain layout which was built by his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr.
One of the many delights of Kingsbarns Golf Links is that you can see the North Sea from virtually every part of the course.
The Golfsociëteit De Lage Vuursche layout was fashioned by Kyle Phillips and it opened for play in the year 2000. This was an ambitious restoration project which aimed to revert flat farmland back to its former glory of rolling terrain flanked by woodland.