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From the Archives: Famous Architects

FROM ITS FOUNDING IN 1890, THE APAWAMIS GOLF COURSE HAS HAD A NUMBER OF FAMOUS ARCHITECTS INVOLVED IN ITS EVOLUTION. IN MICHAEL MCCORMICK’S RELATED PIECE “EVOLUTION OF A GOLF COURSE,” ON PAGE 12 WITHIN THIS ISSUE OF APAWAMIS NOW, THERE IS AN INTERESTING CHRONOLOGY OF THE COURSE, ARTICULATING SOME OF THE MORE NOTEWORTHY CHANGES TO IT OVER THE YEARS.

In this narrative; however, we will focus on the architects whose work has culminated in what we have today. Unlike many of the courses that were designed in the early 1920s, where the original architect did most of the work in the ensuing years, Apawamis engaged a number of professionals to help guide the Club in evolving the late 19th century designed golf course.

As many members know, our existing golf course is our third. The previous two were on the eastern side of what is now I-95. The "official" credit for our current golf course, completed in 1899, accrues to Willie Dunn, Jr. and Maturin Ballou. Dunn, a Scot, was originally at Shinnecock Hills when the course was a 12-hole layout. He added a ladies’ course, and in 1895 combined both courses into 18 holes. Ballou was our Chairman of Golf and partnered with Dunn to create what was considered, at that time, a "beast”!

Tom Bendelow was born in Scotland. Bendelow worked for A.G. Spalding, a sporting goods manufacturer. The New York City Park District hired Bendelow in 1899 to redesign and manage the Van Cortlandt Golf Course, the country's first 18- hole municipal golf course. In the May 4, 1899, issue of the New York Journal, there is a story about the new Apawamis property (the land upon Willie Dunn which our current golf course resides) and its soon-to-be-built golf course, designed by Tom Bendelow. The piece states that the new 18-hole course “…is scheduled to open, with great anticipation, on July 1, 1899….” The article describes the hole-by-hole yardages for the new Westchester County masterpiece. What is fascinating is that the 18-hole specifications in the story look nothing like what we see today; there also is no mention of Ballou or Dunn.

Tom Winton hailed from a golfing family and was born in Scotland. He worked with Willie Dunn, Jr., and was also superintendent of the Westchester County Parks Commission. In addition to working at Apawamis, he performed work at Sleepy Hollow, Siwanoy, and Westchester South.

Peter Lees was born in England. He worked at Royal Mid-Surrey on the outskirts of central London. He was better known as a constructor of courses for C.B. Macdonald and A.W. Tillinghast. In the earlier referenced piece in this issue, you will find more detailed specifics on his contributions to the Club.

Donald Ross is a legendary architect. Born in Dornoch, Scotland, he is one of the most prolific architects in the game’s history, having designed over 350 golf courses. He developed two plans for our golf course, which have been on display in the Grill Room. The Club never hired Ross to do the work. However, our existing course looks very much like what he recommended. Our golf course is credited as one of his designs as compiled by the Donald Ross Society. Amongst other great tracks, he also designed Pinehurst No. 2, Seminole, Oak Hill, Inverness, Oakland Hills, East Lake, and Misquamicut.

Alfred Tull was born in England, emigrating first to Canada, then to the USA. He began his career supervising construction for Walter Travis, A.W. Tillinghast and Devereux Emmet, ultimately partnering with Emmet. Tull was credited with renovation work at the Club in 1962.

George Fazio and Tom Fazio were born in Norristown, PA. They were among the new breed of American-born architects. George was an accomplished PGA Tour player, then hired his nephew into his design firm. They are credited with renovation work in 1977. In 2014, Tom Fazio's firm rebuilt our tee boxes.

Robert Trent Jones, Sr., was born in England. He built or rebuilt over 400 courses, including Firestone, Hazeltine, Baltusrol, and Oak Hill. Jones submitted plans for a renovation of the golf course but was never hired.

Gil Hanse has become one of the most sought-after architects. His work includes the renovations at the Los Angeles Country Club North Course, Oakland Hills, Olympic Club, Mountain Lake, Kittansett, Baltusrol, Fishers Island, WFGC, and Oakmont. Gil implemented his Apawamis renovation plan in 2001.

Keith Foster is an American architect who started working with Arthur Hills. He completed our most recent Golf Course Enhancement Project in 2017, as well as some of the improvements to the course over the last few years. His other work includes Philadelphia Cricket, Old White, Brook Hollow, Baltimore CC, Moraine, and Eastward Ho!

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