Nov 09, 1943
Wheeling, West Va.


Few golf course designers bring as many credentials -- academic and otherwise -- as Dr. Michael Hurdzan.

He received his bachelor's degree in turfgrass management from Ohio State. From Vermont he got his master's in plant and soil science, and his doctorate in environmental plant physiology. His doctoral dissertation was this: Morphologial and Physiological Adaptations of Red Fescue Seedlings to Simulated Sunlight, Diffuse Skylight, and Canopy Shade.

Hurdzan also served 30 years in the military reserve, becoming a commander in the U.S. Army Special Forces. He also wrote more than 100 magazine articles and six books, including "Golf Course Architecture: Evolutions in Design, Construction and Restoration Technology," called by Golf Digest's Ron Whitten the "modern bible of golf course design."

More than any other course architect, Hurdzan is recognized as an authority on environmental issues. He was chosen to design two courses -- Widows Walk in Massachusetts and FarmLinks at Pursell Farms in Alabama -- which serve for environmental research and demonstration.

Hurdzan also has won the triple crown of golf course architecture awards: the Donald Ross (ASGCA), Old Tom Morris (Golf Course Superintendents Association of America) and Don A. Rossi (Golf Course Builders Association of America). It's an honor bestowed on just six others.

Hurdzan grew up the son of a golf professional and went to work early for Jack Kidwell, who designed and owned the course where his father worked in Columbus, Ohio. At the age of 13, Hurdzan was the course's greenskeeper. After completing school, Hurdzan joined Kidwell's firm and took it over in 1985 when Kidwell retired.

In 1997, Hurdzan joined forces with Dana Fry and the two collaborated on three of the top 100 courses in America: Erin Hills in Wisconsin, host of the 2017 U.S. Open, Calusa Pines in Naples, Fla., and Bully Pulpit in North Dakota.

Hurdzan and Fry also had extensive success in Canada. Six of their works rank in Canada's top 100 as rated by, including Ontario classics Devil's Paintbrush, Devil's Pulpit and Georgian Bay.

In 2012, Hurdzan and Fry had an amicable split as Fry pursued projects overseas, while Hurdzan and son Christopher stayed closer to home in Columbus.

Through it all, Hurdzan has made his mark by remaining true to the land he was provided.

"A truly great golf course must either enhance the natural habitat or create a new, environmentally sound one," Hurdzan said. "The more we harmonize natural surroundings into a golf course, the more aesthetic and memorable it will be."

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