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Michael Hurdzan

Hero
Notable Courses
Year of Birth1943
Year of Death
Place of BirthWheeling, West Virginia, USA
Biography

Mike Hurdzan started out in golf at Beacon Light Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio, where his father worked as a golf instructor. The facility was owned by Jack Kidwell, a man deeply involved in the game as a PGA member, course superintendent and golf course architect.

Hurdzan completed his preliminary studies in 1970, having gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Turfgrass Management from the Ohio State University and a Master of Science degree in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont.

Jack Kidwell offered Mike a position in his design company and six years later the firm of Kidwell & Hurdzan Incorporated was founded in 1976. By the end of the following decade, the partnership was responsible for setting out more than a hundred courses across the Mid-west.

Mike’s formal education continued throughout the 1970s, attaining a Phd. In Environmental Plant Physiology from the University of Vermont in 1974 followed by further studies for a BSc. degree in Landscape Architecture at the Ohio State University which concluded in 1978.

Running in tandem with his studies, Hurdzan had embarked on a military career as an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps officer, serving in the Chemical Corps before switching to the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) and he attained the rank of Colonel by the time he left in 1996.

Not long after Jack Kidwell retired from their design company through ill health in the mid-1980s, Hurdzan teamed up with Dana Fry, who had previously worked with Tom Fazio.

Their first project together was in 1990 at Devil’s Pulpit in Ontario, Canada and two years later they followed this up with another 18-hole layout, Devil’s Paintbrush, on the same Caledon Village property.

According to his CV on the Hurdzan company website, Michael Hurdzan thinks the Devil’s Paintbrush course, fashioned for the originators of the Trivial Pursuit board game, is still his finest design.

Most of the Hurdzan and Fry assignments were located in North America, though there were a couple of Italian jobs completed early in the new millennium at Acaya in the southeast of the country and at Royal Park I Roveri in the northwest.

Their most high profile commission was undoubtedly Erin Hills in Wisconsin, which opened for play in 2006. The course has since hosted both the US Amateur Championship in 2011 and the US Open in 2017 so, in terms of national exposure, it’s the layout that ordinary golfers will most closely associate with the design duo.

It mustn’t be forgotten that Jason Straka (a graduate of Cornell University, obtaining a degree in landscape architecture then a master’s degree in agronomy) also worked with Hurdzan and Fry for seventeen years, starting in 1995.

And when Hurdzan and Fry went their separate ways in 2013, Jason teamed up with Dana to focus on more global markets, leaving Michael to concentrate mainly on North America with his son Chris.

Michael is one of only seven people to have received professional service awards from each of the following organisations: Golf Course Builders Association of America (Don Rossi Award in 2002); American Society of Golf Course Architects ( Donald Ross Award in 2007); Golf Course Superintendents Association of America ( Old Tom Morris Award in 2013).

He also held the position of President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1984-85.

Extracts:

Keith Cutten in The Evolution of Golf Course Design: “Although forever at the mercy of the contractors who build his works, Hurdzan is an industry expert at the architect-contractor model. His detailed plans convey his architectural intent. Additionally, unlike most other signature designers who promote a singular look or follow the latest fads, Hurdzan has tended to be a trend-setting designer, driven to deliver distinctive and aesthetically varying works.”

Geoff Cornish and Ron Whitten in The Architects of Golf: “Although Hurdzan once stated that the chances of becoming a golf course architect were about equal to that of being struck by lightning, the progress of his own career proved it could be done... He also found time to establish an extensive library of golf books and a large collection of clubs and balls from past eras.”

Bibliography:

Golf Course Architecture: Design, Construction and Restoration (1996)

Selected Courses by Hurdzan/Fry: Photos and Essays Volume 1 with Dana Fry, Ron Whitten and John Henebry (2003)

Golf Greens: History, Design and Construction (2004)

Building a Practical Golf Facility: A Step by Step Guide to Realizing a Dream (2005)

Golf Course Design: An annotated bibliography with Geoff Cornish (2006)

Golf Course Architecture: Evolution in Design, Construction and Restoration Technology (2006)

Golf and Law: Golf Course Safety, Security and Risk Management (2018)

Notable Courses

01
Acaya

Acaya

undefined, Puglia

02
Annbriar

Annbriar

Waterloo, Illinois

03
Blackthorn

Blackthorn

South Bend, Indiana

04
Bully Pulpit

Bully Pulpit

Medora, North Dakota

05
Burlington Country Club

Burlington Country Club

Burlington, Vermont

06
Calusa Pines

Calusa Pines

Naples, Florida

07
Cooks Creek

Cooks Creek

South Bloomfield, Ohio

08
Country Club of Darien

Country Club of Darien

Darien, Connecticut

09
Desert Willow (Firecliff)

Desert Willow (Firecliff)

Palm Desert, California

10
Dundarave

Dundarave

Cardigan, Prince Edward Island

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