When considering golf's most reliable partnerships, the first thought might go towards great Ryder Cup pairings. But the field of golf course architecture might have the best answers, The Golden Age of the medium had great duos like Wayne Stiles & John Van Kleek, Howard Toomey & William Flynn and William Langford & Theodore Moreau. In the post-World War II era, Pete Dye's collaboration with his wife, Alice, elevated courses like TPC Sawgrass, Kiawah Island and Whistling Straits beyond what might have been achievable through a singular guiding perspective.
Today, architecture's top pairing is Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw. Since they joined forces in 1986, their success rate in producing compelling golf courses has been as high as anyone's, and they have earned their place in the current big-three alongside Tom Doak and Gil Hanse. Sand Hills Golf Club, which Coore & Crenshaw didn't so much design as discover, peeling spoonfuls of dirt out of Nebraska's unparalleled inland golf terrain. Its 1995 debut was a turning point in the history of the golf course as both engineering and art, pushing developers and architects alike to seek sand as the best canvas for the game's new playing fields.
Coore & Crenshaw have also come to be known for their meticulous oversight of design projects. Even in the pre-Recession golf boom, they seldom took on more than one or two projects at a time. From 1986 through 2022, just 31 new golf courses opened under their imprimatur.
Their measured approach to design endures even into the current pandemic-fueled mini-boom of courses, but for a variety of reasons, the latter third of 2023 will likely go down as the busiest time in the history of their firm when it comes to new course openings. By year's end, five brand-new Coore & Crenshaw golf courses will have opened - two in Florida, one in Alabama, one in California and one in Saint Lucia.
The Chain at Streamsong Resort
Bowling Green, Fla.
Short courses are all the rage, and Coore & Crenshaw have been involved with some of the world's best examples, from Bandon Preserve in Oregon to Bougle Run at Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania. At Streamsong, they took 100 acres of lakes and oak hammock in front of the resort's main Lodge hotel. The first six holes loop counter clockwise through the trees, and the next 13 head out into the brush and lakes left behind from the site's days as a phosphate mine.
McArthur Golf Club (The Back Yard)
Hobe Sound, Fla.
This exclusive club with one of golf's best logos - a milk bottle, in a nod to the property's past life as a dairy farm - now has a Coore & Crenshaw 18-holer to go with its Tom Fazio/Nick Price original course, opened in 2002.
Brambles has been planned since the Recession, but only was able to get going again in the last couple of years. The property sits about an hour north of Napa and Sonoma in the lesser-known Lake County, which is home to several reputed wineries in its own right. The club is the brainchild of longtime Coore & Crenshaw collaborator James Duncan, who seeks to make Brambles an homage to the best golf-focused, unfussy clubs of England. The broad valley floor across which the course is routed makes for a subtle-close-to-the-ground design that will stand in stark contrast to the more bombastic layouts that have opened in recent years.
Wicker Point Golf Club
Alexander City, Ala.
Bill and Ben have worked beside a lake before, to great effect at Cuscowilla on Lake Oconee, an hour east of Atlanta. Situated 90 minutes southeast of Birmingham, Ala., Wicker Point presents similar scenery in the form of the squiggly shoreline of Lake Martin, and will be at the center of a 1,500-acre residential development called The Heritage. Opened to members in late September, Wicker Point becomes the second private club in the Russell Lands portfolio, pairing with Willow Point Country Club, which dates back to the 1960s and whose course was redesigned in 2023 by Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry.
Point Hardy Golf Club at Cabot Saint Lucia
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia
As soon as it opens in December 2023, Point Hardy, the centerpiece of the brand-new Cabot St. Lucia community, seems destined to be a contender for the Caribbean's top-ranked course. With a gaggle of clifftop holes that remind of the drama of California's Cypress Point and Pebble Beach, it's no wonder that sales of the property's real estate component have been strong, even before an official round has been played.
Which new C&C course are you most interested in playing? Let us know in the comments below.