Top 10 golf course architects who most influenced the major championship venues

Golf Advisor is profiling the 20 golf course architects who have had the most influence on men's major championship golf.

Three categories to determine where each architect should rank: How many major championship courses they designed, how many major championship courses they renovated and how many majors have been played on those courses after their work was completed.

Click here to read Part 1, featuring architects 20 through 11.

Here are the top 10:

10. Perry Maxwell

Courses designed: Southern Hills Country Club (U.S. Opens in 2001, 1977 and 1958. PGA Championships in 2007, 1994, 1982 and 1970). Twin Hills Golf & Country Club (1935 PGA Championship). Colonial Country Club (1941 U.S. Open).
Other majors impacted by his work: Augusta National Golf Club (Masters 1937-present). East Course at Merion Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 1950, 1971, 1981 and 2013).
Comment: Maxwell – one of golf's most revered Golden Age architects – shares design credits at Colonial CC with John Bredemus of Texas. According to Colonial website, club founder Marvin Leonard required both men "to assist with the course layout by asking each to submit five alternative plans for the course. After reviewing their recommendations, he asked them to submit five more from which Mr. Leonard began picking and borrowing from both designers to create the Colonial design." You don't hear Maxwell mentioned much with Augusta National, but he completed some work there in 1937-38, according to Golf Digest.
Total impact: Three designs, two course renovations and 13 majors not including the Masters.

9. William Flynn

Prior to the 43rd U.S Open at the Philadelphia Country Club in 1939, course architect William Flynn (left) talks with Byron Nelson (center), the head pro at the Pennsylvania Country Club in Reading, Pa., and Ben Hogan, pro at the Century Country Club in White Plains, N.Y.

Courses designed: Cherry Hills Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1978, 1960 and 1938 and PGA Championships in 1985 and 1941). Philadelphia Country Club (1939 U.S. Open). Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 2018, 2004, 1995 and 1986).
Other majors impacted by his work: The Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1963 and 1988). The Pines Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club (1942 PGA Championship at what was then the Seaview Country Club). East Course at Merion Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 1950, 1971, 1981 and 2013).
Comment: Flynn's classic style at Cherry Hills and Philadelphia County Club has withstood the test of time, but his work on other major venues needs some explanation. According to Golfclubatlas.com, Flynn's 1931 redesign at Shinnecock Hills retained five original holes from the work of the celebrated duo of C.B. Macdonald and Seth Raynor dating to 1901, although GolfDigest.com's Ron Whitten reports it's only three. Whichever is the truth, Flynn gets the nod as the major influence at Shinnecock. Outside of Boston, three of Flynn's holes built in 1927 on the Primrose Course at The Country Club at Brookline have been used in the Composite Course that hosted U.S. Opens in 1963 and 1988. Even more confusing is this nugget: Flynn and his partner, Howard Toomey, built the original nine holes of the Pines Course at Seaview in 1927. A few of them may or may not have been in play during the 1942 PGA Championship.
Total impact: Three designs, three renovated courses and 17 majors.

8. Tom Fazio

Tom Fazio speaks to the media prior to The Masters in 2006 at the Augusta National Golf Club.

Courses designed: Quail Hollow Country Club (2017 PGA Championship). Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa (1987 PGA Championship).
Other majors impacted by his work: East Course at Oak Hill Country Club (1989 U.S. Open. 2003 and 2013 PGA Championship). Augusta National Golf Club (Masters from 2002-present). West course at Winged Foot Golf Club (2006 U.S. Open. 1997 PGA Championship). Oakmont Country Club (U.S. Opens in 2007 and 2016). East course at Merion Golf Club (2013 U.S. Open). Pinehurst No. 2 (U.S. Opens in 1999, 2005 and 2014).
Comment: Fazio's continuing efforts at Quail Hollow, a routing he recreated in the 1990s atop an old George Cobb design, allows him to mostly claim that course as his own. His early work with his uncle, George Fazio, included renovations at Oak Hill and Pinehurst No. 2 and designing the original Champion Course at PGA National that hosted the 1987 PGA (now a popular PGA Tour venue completely redone by Jack Nicklaus). Ultimately, it's Fazio's "Tiger Proofing" of Augusta National from 1999-2005 that he'll be remembered for most.
Total impact: Two ‘designs', six renovations and 31 majors, including the Masters.

7. Pete Dye

Alice and Pete Dye at the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Indiana.

Courses designed: Crooked Stick Golf Club (1991 PGA Championship). Oak Tree National Golf Club (1988 PGA Championship). Straits Course at Whistling Straits (PGA Championships in 2004, 2010 and 2015). Ocean course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort (2012 PGA Championship).
Other majors impacted by his work: None.
Comment: Who better to test the pros than Dye, the diabolical man who brought golf course architecture into a modern era when penal design became en vogue in the 1980s and 1990s. He's the only architect featured in this story that hasn't had anyone else lay a hand on his work thus far. He gets bonus points for having so many courses break into the PGA Championship rotation.
Total impact: Four designs and six PGA Championships.

6. Old Tom Morris

Courses designed: Old Course at St. Andrews (The Open 29 times since 1873). Prestwick Golf Club (The Open 24 times from 1860-1925). Muirfield (The Open in 1892, 1896, 1901, 1906, 1912, 1929, 1935, 1948, 1959, 1966, 1972, 1980, 1987, 1992, 2002, 2013).
Other majors impacted by his work: Carnoustie Golf Links (Opens in 1931, 1937, 1953, 1968, 1975, 1999, 2007 and 2018).
Comment: Old Tom is widely regarded as the father of the Old Course after separating the first green from the 17th green somewhere around 1863, creating the modern layout composed of seven double greens. At one time in the 18th century, the routing had up to 22 holes. Before moving to St. Andrews, Morris was Prestwick's "Keeper of the Green, Ball and Club Maker", laying out the original 12-hole routing in 1851 and assisting with the expansion to 18 holes in 1882. Six of the original greens and three original holes are still in use. Golf was first played at Muirfield in 1891 on 16 holes laid out by Old Tom. Muirfield was extended to 18 holes for the Open the following year.
Total impact: Three designs, one early routing and 70 Opens.

5. Harry Colt

Courses designed: Muirfield (Opens in 1929, 1935, 1948, 1959, 1966, 1972, 1980, 1987, 1992, 2002 and 2013). Plum Hollow Country Club (1947 PGA Championship). North Shore Country Club (1933 PGA Championship). The Park Country Club (1934 PGA Championship). Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush Golf Club (The Open in 1951).
Other majors impacted by his work: Columbus Country Club (1964 PGA Championship). Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club (Opens in 1926, 1952, 1958, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1988, 1996, 2001 and 2012).
Comment: The globe-trotting Colt was a pioneer of course architecture, first partnering with Alister MacKenzie, then Charles Alison. After Colt's 1919 redesign repositioned greens and tees and added bunkers to Royal Lytham and St. Annes, he launched a successful partnership with Alison. Plum Hollow might have been their first work together in 1921. According to the Muirfield website, Colt "effectively produced the layout as it is today. He introduced 14 new holes" in 1923. Colt, Alison and MacKenzie are all credited with designing North Shore outside of Chicago in 1924. As a grand finale, Colt created Portrush's Dunluce Links in Northern Ireland in 1929. New eighth and ninth holes were added to the Dunluce in 1946. More changes by Martin Ebert - including two more new holes - will be revealed at the return of The Open in 2019.
Total impact: Five designs, two renovated courses and 27 majors.

4. Robert Trent Jones Sr.

Robert Trent Jones Sr. Smiles For The Camera During The 1992 Masters Tournament.

Courses designed: Hazeltine National Golf Club (PGA Championships in 2002 and 2009. U.S. Opens in 1991 and 1970). Bellerive Country Club (1965 U.S. Open. 1992 and 2018 PGA Championships). Nine holes of the Highlands course at Atlanta Athletic Club (1976 U.S. Open. PGA Championships in 1981, 2001 and 2011). Championship Course at Tanglewood Park (1974 PGA Championship).
Other majors impacted by his work: Lake Course at The Olympic Club (U.S. Opens in 1955, 1966, 1987, 1988 and 2012). South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1951, 1961, 1985 and 1996. PGA Championship in 1972, 1979 and 2008). East Course at Oak Hill Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1956, 1968 and 1989. PGA Championships in 1980, 2003 and 2013). West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 1959, 1974, 1984 and 2006. 1997 PGA Championship). Augusta National Golf Club (Masters 1947-present). Oakmont Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1962, 1973, 1994, 2003, 2007 and 2016. 1978 PGA Championship). Southern Hills Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1958, 1977 and 2001. PGA Championships in 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2007). Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 1993, 1980, 1967 and 1954. PGA Championships in 2005 and 2016). Interlachen Country Club (1930 U.S. Open). Blue Course at Congressional Country Club (1976 PGA Championship and U.S. Opens in 1964, 1997 and 2011). South Course at Firestone Country Club (PGA Championship in 1960, 1965 and 1975).
Comment: Whether you admire his work or not, Jones was a trailblazer. Three of his four original solo designs hosting majors are still in rotation. Bellerive outside of St. Louis, Mo., returned to mixed reviews for the 2018 PGA Championship after a long hiatus. As the first architect consultant for the USGA, Jones left his mark on almost every legendary U.S. Open venue. His work prior to the 1951 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills caused Ben Hogan to deem the South Course a "monster".
Total impact: Four designs, 11 renovated courses and 63 majors not including the Masters.

3. Alister MacKenzie

Dr. Alister MacKenzie designed many famous courses, including Augusta National, home of The Masters.

Courses designed: Augusta National Golf Club (The Masters, 1934-present).
Other majors impacted by his work: Pebble Beach Golf Links (U.S. Opens in 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010. 1977 PGA Championship). North Shore Country Club (1933 PGA Championship).
Comment: MacKenzie teamed with Bobby Jones to create the ultimate private club two hours outside of Atlanta that has come to symbolize golf - both its strengths (beautifully manicured green spaces and great risk-reward holes) and weaknesses (an exclusive club for the rich and powerful elite). Golfers hold MacKenzie in high esteem for his elegant bunker shaping and green contours on an impressive collection of classic courses besides Augusta (including Pasatiempo Golf Club, Crystal Downs Country Club and Cypress Point Club).
Total impact: One design, one collaboration, one renovation and 90 majors, including the Masters 82 times.

2. A.W. Tillinghast

Legendary designer A.W. Tillinghast poses for a portrait.

Courses designed: Fresh Meadow Country Club (1930 PGA Championship, 1932 U.S. Open). East Course at Baltimore Country Club* (1928 PGA Championship at what was then the East Course at Five Farms). Cedar Crest Golf Course (1927 PGA Championship at what was then the Cedar Crest Country Club). Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort (1938 PGA Championship). West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 1929, 1959, 1974, 1984 and 2006. 1997 PGA Championship). Belmont Golf Course (1949 PGA Championship at what was then called the Hermitage Country Club). Bethpage Black (U.S. Opens in 2002 and 2009). Baltusrol Golf Club (U.S. Opens in 1993, 1980, 1967, 1954 and 1936. PGA Championships in 2005 and 2016).
Other majors impacted by his work: Pittsburgh Field Club (1937 PGA Championship).
Comment: Albert Warren "Tillie" Tillinghast was prolific, working on more than 250 courses in his life, earning introduction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2014. His bold move to tell Baltusrol to plow under a course that had hosted the 1903 and 1915 U.S. Opens so he could construct two new courses – the Upper and Lower courses - best showed his vision and creativity. Winged Foot's severely sloping greens and deep Tillinghast bunkers will host their sixth U.S. Open in 2020. Some golf insiders believe he should be no. 1 on this list.
Total impact: Eight designs, one renovated course and 22 majors.

1. Donald Ross

Golfers (left to right) Col. W. E. Wells, of West Virginia; Richard Tufts, the grandson of the Pinehurst Country Club founder; Donald Ross, the famous golf course architect; and Massachusetts Congressman Allen Towner Treadway, a former manager at Pinehurst, enjoy a round at Pinehurst.

Courses designed: South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1924, 1937, 1951, 1961, 1985 and 1996. PGA Championship in 1972, 1979 and 2008). East Course at Oak Hill Country Club (U.S. Opens in 1956, 1968 and 1989. PGA Championships in 1980, 2003 and 2013). Pinehurst No. 2 (U.S. Opens in 1999, 2005 and 2014). Scioto Country Club (1926 U.S. Open. 1950 PGA). Aronimink Golf Club (1962 PGA Championship). Worcester Country Club (1925 PGA Championship). Brae Burn Country Club (1919 PGA Championship). Donald Ross Course at French Lick Resort (1924 PGA Championship on what was then the Hill Course at French Lick Springs Resort). Siwanoy Country Club (1916 PGA Championship). Wannamoisett Country Club (1931 PGA Championship). Inverness Club (PGA Championships in 1986 and 1993). Miami Valley Golf Club (1957 PGA Championship).
Other majors impacted by his work: Interlachen Country Club (1930 U.S. Open). Skokie Country Club (1922 U.S. Open). Belmont Golf Course (1949 PGA Championship at what was then called the Hermitage Country Club). The Bay course at Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club (1942 PGA Championship at what was then the Seaview Country Club). Pittsburgh Field Club (1937 PGA Championship). Columbus Country Club (1964 PGA Championship). Minneapolis Golf Club (1959 PGA Championship). Meadowbrook Country Club (1955 PGA Championship).
Comment: Ross wins, not only for most original designs, but for his sheer influence on golf course architecture. Think of how many clubs claim to be "Ross" designs when many of their original Ross characteristics has been lost over the years or how much money is spent on courses like Pinehurst No. 2 trying to revive the influence of Ross. The man from Dornoch in the Scottish Highlands has no peer when it comes to his influence on major championship venues.
Total impact: 12 designs, 8 renovations and 34 majors.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Funny. You (or somebody) photoshopped somebody out of the Donald Ross photo, but didn't photoshop out the shadow.... Nice!!!

Staff
Commented on

It's an original photo from more than 80 years ago. I don't think they used photo shop back then. It appears to be the shadow of the photographer and the camera tripod.

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You are so right! I thought the tripod leg was a club. My bad....

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With 30 plus years of his own research, you need to interview my Dad. Stuart Bendelow. The objective information is there. 600+ courses including Medinah, East Lake and Temple Terrace much less tee times were designed by my great grandfather. It is time for him to get correct recognition for his contribution to golf.

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It is a mistake to assume that all of Tom Bendelow's courses have been plowed under, redone or abandoned.. A number still exist, municipal and private, just as he designed them many years ago. Newspaper reports document that he frequently spent several days laying out a course and made multiple visits during construction to oversee the final product. I have personally met club members who are very proud and protective of their historic Bendelow designed golf course.

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It was a pleasant surprise to me to see Tom Bendelow included in your listing of golf course designers influential to the sport.
He has for far too long been ignored, dismissed and literally written out of the history of American golf. Over his four decade career he was much more than just "The Johnny Appleseed of American Golf", he was also referred to as "The Dean of American Golf Architects"(especially during his early decades), "the Father of Municipal Golf" and "The Henry Ford of American Golf"., Tom Bendelow brought more players into the game than any other person, architect or otherwise. In the twenty years I have research his career, I have yet to find the answer as to why he has been treated so shabbily by "historians".
A couple of quick notes here if I may. From 1895 to roughly 1910, a large percentage of US golf tournaments were played on Tom Bendelow courses. Many were regional tournaments or those associated with early golf organizations such as the WGA. East Lake Country Club, where Bobby Jones learned the game seems missing from your list? And from my research and that of the Historical Committee of Medinah Country Club, A.W. Tillinghast had no involvement in the layout of Medinah No. 3..

Staff
Commented on

Hi Stuart, East Lake was not mentioned because it has never hosted a MAJOR Championship - which is the point of this whole story. It's not about who made a MAJOR impact on course design, but who made a MAJOR impact on courses that have HOSTED MAJORS. Hope that clears it up. As for Medinah, I have reached out to the club for verification and will make any changes as necessary.

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Top 10 golf course architects who most influenced the major championship venues