Nov 22, 1944
Tuscaloosa, Alabama


From 1962, when he was awarded the first annual scholarship from the Florida State Golf Association, it was clear that Ron Garl showed great promise.

And Garl has delivered on that promise as a golf course designer, building a resume of more than 250 courses with a heavy concentration in Florida. Of the 131 public courses listed under his name on Golf Advisor, 103 are in the Sunshine State.

Perhaps his best known work in Florida is Golden Ocala, host of the LPGA's Coates Golf Championship, and the first course in the world to include tribute holes. Garl's recreation of holes from Augusta, St. Andrew, Royal Troon and Baltustrol was so successful it led to a new discipline within the business, "replica design."

Other Florida gems include University Park in Sarasota, Indian River in Vero Beach, Victoria Hills in Deland, and Fiddlesticks in Fort Myers, a private course with two of the most photographed holes in the state, the twin, island-green ninth and 18th.

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., Garl's Tradition Golf Club was the South Carolina course of the year in 2000 and Golf Digest's best new course of 1996. In Canada, two Garl-designed courses rank in the nation's top 100, Taboo in Ontario and Heritage Point in Calgary.

After spending his early years in Alabama, Garl's family moved to Lakeland, Fla. when he was 7. As a teenager working maintenance at a local par-3 course, he often imagined how he could make holes better.

Garl turned his full-ride scholarship at Florida into a degree in turf grass science. After working on the construction crew of Robert Trent Jones, Garl spent nearly five years under legendary Florida designer Joe Lee, learning how to build memorable courses from flat, featureless land, using dramatic bunkering and water hazards.

"If you can be successful in Florida, you can be successful anywhere, because you really have to dream up and create," Garl said.

Over the years, as the market has shrunk, Garl has continued to thrive with a practical, business-like approach. Many of his clients appreciate his perspective as Garl himself is an owner of four Florida courses.

Garl also has become an eloquent spokesman and outside-the-box thinker on the future of golf, arguing that growth-of-the-game efforts need to focus on the Baby Boom generation with their early retirements, disposable income and good health.

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