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Seve Ballesteros1957 - 2011
"Every generation or so there emerges a golfer who is a little bit better than anybody else. I believe Ballesteros is one of them...On a golf course he's got everything – and I mean everything: touch, power, know-how, courage, and charisma." Lee Trevino, 1999.
Severiano Ballesteros was born on 9 April 1957 in Pedreña, a small village on the southern shore of the Bay of Santander in the north of Spain. Seve's older brothers Baldomero, Manuel and Vicente were all professional golfers, as was his uncle, Ramón Sota, his mother's brother, one of the best golfers in Europe in the sixties, winner of four Spanish Professionals Championships and sixth in the 1965 U.S. Masters.
With this background, plus of course, impressive natural talent and his tremendous love of the game, Seve, with a 3-iron his brother Manuel had given him as a present, invented a huge variety of shots that bestowed his game with enormous versatility.
As a caddy, Seve did not have much chance to play at the Pedreña Golf Club and for that reason he sharpened his skills mainly on the beach and only on nights with a full moon did he tiptoe down and play the course.
Despite a very limited amateur career, Seve turned professional at 16. Seve won his first British Open in 1979, becoming the youngest winner of the century. His next appearance in a major was at the U.S. Masters where, in 1980, at 23 he became the second non-American and first European to wear the green jacket. In 1983 Seve conquered his second green jacket. And in ‘84 Seve captured the British Open at St. Andrews in a golfing moment which will live in the memories. Seve would also win the 1988 British Open for a third time at Royal Lytham.
Seve transformed European golf in the 1980’s through his own individual displays of excellence in addition to his huge contribution to Europe winning Ryder Cups in 1985 and for the first time ever on American soil, in 1987. Seve also lead the 1997 European team to victory over the Americans in Valderrama.
Seve’s design portfolio includes courses in Japan, USA, Europe including of course his beloved Spain.
James Braid1870 - 1950
James Braid, along with Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor, formed Britain's "Great Triumvirate" of early 20th-century golfers. Vardon won 6 Open Championships and Braid and Taylor 5 each.
Braid took up the game as a young child and won his first local tournament at age 8. His game developed along with an interest in club making, and in 1893 he took a position as club maker in London.
Braid turned pro in 1896. His play, prior to the turn of the century, was long driving but inconsistent putting. While Vardon and Taylor were already winning Opens, Braid's putter kept him from breaking through.
He switched to an aluminium-headed putter in 1900 (from a wooden-headed model) and his putting improved. In 1901, he won his first British Open, and he won five more by 1910 - reaching 5 before either Vardon or Taylor.
He retired from competitive golf in 1912, joining Walton Heath as its club professional.
Braid's great passion after his retirement was course design. It is estimated that he designed or re-designed more than 200 courses around Great Britain. Among the courses he helped remodel are Carnoustie, Troon, Prestwick and Ballybunion.
Many of Braid's best courses were inland courses (as opposed to seaside links), and some of these courses contain the earliest known uses of the dogleg. In fact, some say that Braid "invented" the dogleg hole. Braid was a founding member of the British PGA and authored an instructional book entitled "Advanced Golf."
James Braid courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Harry Colt1869 - 1951
Harry Colt was a keen amateur player, capped for England in 1908. Appointed a partner in the Hastings Law Firm of Sayer & Colt in 1894, during which time he helped design the Rye Golf Course and became its Honorary Secretary in 1895. In 1897 he became a Founder Member of the Royal & Ancient Rules of Golf Committee.
Golf having been his primary interest, he applied for the job of Secretary at the new Sunningdale Club in 1901. It was from this base that he gradually developed his interest and ultimate career as a golf course architect.
In 1928, Colt formed the firm of Colt, Alison and Morrison Ltd, where he remained as Managing Director until his retirement in 1945. Prior to the formation of the company, Harry Colt, Charles Alison, and John Morrison, together with Dr Alister MacKenzie, had formed a partnership to promote the design and construction of Golf Courses in the United Kingdom and Europe. Initially Colt and MacKenzie in 1905, joined by Alison in 1906 and Morrison in 1923. In 1923, MacKenzie withdrew from the partnership.
Colt was a bold designer who built strategic rather than punitive courses that were adapted to the stronger playing character of the then modern rubber-core Haskell ball. His greens, as was standard for the day, were built to facilitate surface drainage and were designed for speeds that today would measure 4-6 on the Stimpmeter. He was also a pioneer in terms of master-planning golf courses as part of residential areas. The Detroit CC, in the USA, flows in the middle of graceful Tudor estates that frame the grounds, and Colt's St. George's Hill CC (1913) in England, originally a 36-hole complex, now 27 holes, was prototype of the modern country club estate development project.
Harry Colt courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Born in Ohio December 29, 1925 Pete Dye is a highly acclaimed golf course designer and a member of a famous family of course designers. "Pete Dye is a genius" - Greg Norman.
Dye has degrees from Rollins College, Stetson University, and Purdue University. He is married to fellow designer and former amateur champion Alice Dye since 1950.
Dye is considered to be one of the most influential course architects in the world. His designs are known for distinctive features, including the use of railroad ties to hold bunkers and small greens. He is known for designing the "world's most terrifying tee shot - known as the "Island Green" 17th hole at TPC at Sawgrass.
Nearly all of Dye’s courses are well chronicled in Pete's autobiography, "Bury Me In A Pot Bunker", written with Mark Shaw. More about these courses and those co-designed with Pete's wife Alice are featured in her book, "From Birdies to Bunkers, Discover How Golf Can Bring Love, Humor, and Success into Your Life" also written with Mark Shaw. This book also presents Alice's amazing tips based on her multiple championships as one of the greatest women's amateur players of all time.
Pete Dye courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Born in 1945, Tom Fazio began his career in golf course design with his family firm in suburban Philadelphia and established his own company in Jupiter, Florida in 1972.
Fazio has designed more than 120 courses and has more courses ranked among the top 100 in the U.S. than anyone else in the business. His individual honours include Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect, which he received from Golf Digest Magazine three times.
In 1995, Fazio became only the second course architect to receive the highest recognition awarded by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America - The Old Tom Morris Award.
Tom Fazio courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Eddie Hackett1910 - 1996
Born in a Dublin pub in 1910, twelve years before Irish independence, Eddie Hackett survived a Dickensian childhood battling the effects of tuberculosis with long stretches in hospital.
One of the brighter moments of his youth came the day his father announced proudly that he had become one of the first Catholic tradesmen to be allowed into a golf club in Ireland. Young Eddie took to the game too, the one sport his doctors would allow him to play.
As a teenager Eddie worked as a clubmaker at the Royal Dublin Golf Club. He also worked on his game, became an assistant professional, and in 1939 became head professional at Portmarnock.
Hackett left Portmarnock in 1950 to take part in a business venture. The next few years turned out to be the worst of his life, and he spent another nine months in bed in a near-fatal battle with meningitis.
Hackett returned to golf almost by chance in the early 1960s when the Golfing Union of Ireland asked him to give teaching clinics across the country. One of the clubs was looking for someone to design a golf course (one of the first full-length courses to be built in thirty years) and Hackett's name was recommended. He stumbled his way through the job and found himself Ireland's main golf architect.
"In those years, there was no one else to go to," says Hackett, "unless you went to an English architect, but they were expensive. They had no money, you know," Hackett continues. "I told them if you're that keen on golf, I'll go down and I'll put a stone in for a tee and a pin in for a green, and you can pay me when you can."
"Eddie is the unsung hero of Irish golf," says Pat Ruddy, Ireland's leading golf journalist and an architect himself. "At a time when there was no money, Eddie Hackett travelled the highways and byways of Ireland. Half the people playing golf in Ireland are doing so because of Eddie Hackett. And I don't know anyone who has said the slightest bad word about him."
Hackett's courses tend to be long from the back tees, with clearly visible landing areas, large greens and spectacular elevated tees. Despite his great love for the classic links of Ireland and Scotland (which he played as a young professional), Hackett prefers to make a hole's challenges clearly visible in the modern style. Every one of his links courses is enormously enjoyable, even thrilling to play, with at least a half-dozen holes that will stop you dead in your tracks in admiration. Nothing seems artificial or imposed. He doesn't talk so much about designing golf holes as finding them, and he is proudest when he can point to a hole and say "it's just as nature."
Rees Jones is part of the legendary Jones dynasty. He is son of Robert Trent Jones Snr and younger brother of Robert Trent Jones Jnr, both - like Rees Jones - noted designers. Rees Jones was one of the first designers to add an environmental element to his courses.
Robert Trent Jones Jnr
Robert Trent Jones Jnr joined his father’s firm after attending Yale and Stanford. He rose to become vice-president before leaving to form his own company. He has designed more than two hundred courses to date, with commissions spanning all five continents.
Robert Trent Jones Snr1906 - 2000
Robert Trent Jones Sr. was born in 1906 in Ince, England, near the Trent River from where his middle name is derived.
His family immigrated into America when Jones was five and settled in Rochester, N.Y. Life was difficult for the family, but the fact that another Rochester resident, Walter Hagen, would win the 1914 U.S. Open came to have a profound influence on Jones.
The game captured Jones' imagination, and by the time he was a teenager he was caddying for Hagen in exhibitions and emerging himself as an accomplished player. At 21, he finished 10th as an amateur in the Canadian Open, but his playing career was undone by ill health.
Jones studied legendary architect Donald Ross' fieldwork on the 36 holes he built at Oak Hill Country Club and picked Ross' brain about the art of course design. Jones decided to pursue course architecture as a career and became the first person to study expressly for such, fashioning his own curriculum at Cornell University.
Jones partnered with Canadian architect Stanley Thompson from1932-40 and even in the post-Depression era, they built timeless classics like Capilano in Vancouver and Banff in the Canadian Rockies. In 1948, Jones collaborated with golf's "other" Bobby Jones, Robert Tyre Jones Jr., beloved American amateur, on the Peachtree Golf Club near Atlanta.
Jones championed the concept of "Heroic Golf," meaning that if a player wanted to attempt a difficult shot, they be faced with a risk/reward. That's where Jones became the first architect to regularly employ water as the ultimate hazard. All told, Jones designed or redesigned over 500 courses in 40 states and 35 countries.
Jones was golf's original "U.S. Open Doctor" and designed and renovated many of the courses that stood up under the crucible of major championship golf. The best known among them were Oakland Hills (Birmingham, Mich.), the Olympic Club (San Fran.), Oak Hill (Rochester, N.Y.), Congressional (Bethesda, Md.) and Hazeltine National (Chaska, Minn.).
Jones had two sons, Robert Trent Jr. and Rees, both of whom worked under their father before becoming successful architects in their own right.
Robert Trent Jones Snr courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Dr Alister MacKenzie1870 - 1934
Nicknamed "the Course Doctor," Alister MacKenzie was born in 1870 to Scottish parents in Yorkshire. He died in 1934 in California after a fascinating life, leaving behind a blueprint for future intriguing golf course designs and a legacy of classic golf courses.
A graduate of Cambridge University with degrees in chemistry, medicine and natural science, MacKenzie joined his father's medical practice but was then called away to serve in the Boer War. Ironically it was the concealed trenches of the Boers that first nurtured his design ideas for golf courses.
MacKenzie took up medicine again after the war but then abandoned his medical practice in favour of golf course architecture. His decision to do this was in part down to his conviction that golf had very real benefits for patients, and he was quoted as saying:
"How frequently have I, with great difficulty, persuaded patients who were never off my doorstep to take up golf, and how rarely, if ever, have I seen them in my consulting rooms again!" Dr Alister MacKenzie believed golf was the best medicine for many of his patients. His interest in it escalated to a consuming passion and he devised some of the world's most interesting courses.
MacKenzie courses are revered by golfers the world over and include:
Mackenzie believed his ideal golf courses should be arranged in two loops of nine to create different wind conditions throughout the round, a mix of length of holes, the greens and fairways should be undulating, a minimum of blind approach shots, have natural beauty, different options/strategy for good players and the higher handicaps, you should not have to spend long looking for your ball, and course condition should be outstanding.
Old Tom Morris1821 - 1908
(Old) Tom Morris was born in St Andrews, on the east coast of Scotland. He began his career as an apprentice feather ball maker until 1849 when the new gutta ball arrived.
Morris the golfer won four Open Championships in the eighteen sixties, (1861, 1862, 1864 and 1867) and is still the oldest person to have won the event at the age of 46. In the first ever Open, Morris came second to Willie Park. Old Tom also held the record for largest margin of victory in a major championship (13 strokes) in the 1862 Open Championship, which stood until Tiger Woods won the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes.
Morris was Keeper of the Greens in Prestwick from 1851 until 1864, and became the first Keeper to top-dress greens, and also introduced many other course management techniques.
Old Tom's clubmaking business was established in 1867 by the side of the 18th green of The Old Course. The business continued to run during his lifetime and employed skilled craftsmen, one of whom, Bob Martin, was a double winner of The Open Championship at St Andrews in 1876 & 1885.
Old Tom was famed for his course design; he standardized the golf course length at 18 holes (St. Andrews had at one time been 23 holes), and introduced the concept of each nine holes returning to the club house.
Morris' son Tommy followed in his footsteps, winning the Open in 1868 at the tender age of 17. Young Tom won the Open four consecutive times (1868 - 70 and 1872, there was no championship in 1871). Sadly, Tom Morris Junior died on Christmas Day in 1875 at the age of 24 following the death of his wife.
Old Tom Morris died in the year 1908 aged 86. He was a true pioneer in the world of golf and lived through and helped create the major transitions of the game, from the feather ball; the first Opens; the popularisation of the game; and the introduction of inland courses.
On the 21 January 1940 Jack Nicklaus, the player to win the most major titles, was born in Colombus Ohio.
In a career that spanned 5 decades Jack Nicklaus recorded 100 victories worldwide, 18 professional majors and 19 second places in professional majors. The build up to his pro career started in 1959 with the American Amateur and after turning pro carried on to 1986 with a memorable Masters win.
He turned pro in 1962, won his first major that year, defeating Arnold Palmer, the start of a great rivalry, in an 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open. By age 26, Nicklaus had completed the career grand slam. Then he won all the majors a second time. And finally, with his 1978 British Open victory, he'd won them all at least three times each. His final major came in 1986, at the age of 46, with his sixth Masters.
Nicklaus brought power to the forefront in golf, being the longest driver of his generation. But he also was one of the best clutch putters ever, and his concentration skills were legendary.
During his playing career Nicklaus created his own equipment company, designed golf courses, among many off-course interests.
Nicklaus design now has 300 courses open worldwide. The design philosophies for Jack’s courses are to enhance the natural contours of land and make use of the natural hazards, like water.
His courses feature regularly on the PGA Tour and the European Tour and for the second time, in 2014 at Gleneagles, a Jack Nicklaus design will be used for Ryder Cup competition, Muirfield Village has also hosted the event.
Jack Nicklaus courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Greg Norman, born 1955, is an entrepreneur and Australian professional golfer who spent 331 weeks as the world's number one ranked golfer in the 1980s and 1990s. He is nicknamed "The Great White Shark", or simply, "The Shark", a reference to his shark fishing days in Australia as well as Norman's size and blond locks.
Greg Norman took up golf for the first time at age 16, and within a year was playing to a scratch handicap. Norman won The Open Championship twice, in 1986 and 1993, and also won The Players Championship in 1994.
Despite his huge success on the U.S. PGA Tour and his many wins around the world, Norman is also remembered for his near-misses – at the PGA Championship in 1986 when Bob Tway holed a greenside bunker shot, at the 87 Masters when Larry Mize holed out on the second play-off hole, and when Nick Faldo overcame him at the Masters in 1996.
Greg Norman Course Design was established in 1987 and has grown into one of the leading golf course design companies in the world, with completed or ongoing projects on five continents.
Norman's hands-on approach is invaluable to the design process with the goal of creating tournament-quality courses that maintain an enjoyable sense of playability for all skill levels.
Norman designed TPC at Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia, home to the PGA BellSouth Classic; Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Florida, host of the Merrill Lynch Shootout; and The Grand Golf Club in Queensland, Australia, site of the 2001 Australian Open.
As a lover of the outdoors, coupled with his own extensive knowledge of natural systems and ecology, Norman’s philosophy one of "least-disturbance". His business acumen and sense of corporate responsibility also continually strives for "least cost".
Norman designs are challenging, and sometimes raw, open, with precision required especially in approach shots – everything you would expect from the Great White Shark!
Greg Norman courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Arnold Palmer, born 1929, was one of the most charismatic and popular golfers to grace the game. His impact in the early days of golf on television dramatically raised the profile of the sport, and with it, the money and opportunities available to pro golfers.
Palmer was the son of a greenkeeper, and his father started him early in the game. As a teen, Palmer won five West Penn Amateur Championships. He played collegiately at Wake Forest, but gave up the game for several years when he joined the Coast Guard. He returned to golf in the early 1950s, and eventually won the 1954 U.S. Amateur. He turned pro five months later.
Palmer led the PGA Tour in wins with 4 in 1957, then exploded in 1958 with his first major, the Masters. Palmer's swashbuckling, go-for-broke style, combined with an aggressive, somewhat-flailing swing, plus movie-star looks and charisma, immediately made him a star.
Palmer won 7 majors, all of them from 1958 to 1964, and was the first 4-time winner of the Masters. His last big year on the PGA Tour was 1971, when he won 4 times. The last of his 62 wins came in 1973, but his popularity never waned. It surged again in 1980 when Palmer joined the Senior PGA Tour, and once again helped popularize a golf tour.
Off the course, Palmer built a business empire that included golf academies, tournament and course management companies, equipment companies, clothing lines and more. He co-founded The Golf Channel. Palmer's endorsement deals alone kept him one of sport's annual richest athletes into his 70s.
Palmer has 300 courses in play worldwide and has particular views on designing. "All of the great courses blend in naturally with the existing environment," says Palmer. "I respect and try to preserve the existing terrain and environment on every course as much as it will allow us to do so and still stay within the framework of playability. Put simply, we do not force or design unnecessary features."
Cabell B. Robinson
Cabell Robinson is a protégé of the great Robert Trent Jones Sr and architect of some of the finest modern courses in Europe.
He was born in Washington DC in 1941 and attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design before a friendship with Trent Jones’ son Rees led to summertime work and subsequent full-time employment at the father’s golf course design firm in 1967.
He learned quickly and when the company set up a European office in 1970 Robinson was asked to head it.
As a result, he was intimately involved in classic Trent Jones’ designs such as Los Naranjos and Valderrama.
In 1987 Robinson decided to go it alone with hugely successful results. His creations include La Cala, Santana and Finca Cortesin.
The quality of land is hugely important to Robinson. He likes courses to run with the natural terrain and does not think simply lengthening holes is the way to challenge the better players. Instead he prefers to vary the placement of tees to change the angle of attack.
Robinson lives in Mijas, Spain, and is the only member of the American Society of Golf Course Designers who is resident in Europe.
Cabell B. Robinson courses featured by Ascot Golf:
"Especially when you have a nice site, you want to find where the holes play naturally and minimize the amount of disturbing of the earth you have to do to make the golf course fit" – Rocky Roquemore
As the son of a golf developer, Rocky Roquemore’s passion for the game was nurtured from an early age. His first hands-on experience came when the family founded the Canongate complex in Colorado in 1964 with the great Dick Wilson taking on designing duties.
In 1969 Roquemore went to work with the celebrated designer Joe Lee. He helped with many of Lee’s most famous creations, including Disney Magnolia and Portugal’s famed San Lorenzo.
Since then Roquemore has gone on to design more than 100 courses around the world, picking up many awards along the way. Portugal has been a particular favourite for him with his acclaimed layouts including Golden Eagle, Quinta do Lago North, Quinta da Ria and Quinta da Cima. He also worked on alterations to the late Sir Henry Cotton’s outstanding Vale do Lobo Royal and Ocean courses.
Roquemore is a keen student of golf history and is particularly influenced by early designers such as Willie Park and Augusta National creator Alistair McKenzie. He says he is always determined to know not just how they carved up the land but why. He uses his naturally enquiring mind to devise layouts that use the natural terrain as practically and creatively as possible.
Donald Ross1872 - 1948
Donald J Ross was one of the most significant golf course designers in the history of the sport. He was born at Dornoch in Scotland, but spent most of his adult life in the United States.
Ross served an apprenticeship with Old Tom Morris in St Andrews before investing his life savings in a trip to the U.S. in 1899, and taking his first job at Oakley Country Club in Watertown, Massachusetts.
In 1900 he was appointed as the golf professional at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, where he began his course design career and eventually designed four courses. He had a moderately successful playing career, winning three North and South Opens (1903, 1905, 1906) and two Massachusetts Opens (1905, 1911), and finishing fifth in the 1903 U.S. Open and eighth in the 1910 British Open.
He later gave up playing and teaching to concentrate on course design from New England. His brother Alec however won the 1907 U.S. Open.
Ross's most famous designs are Pinehurst No. 2, Seminole, Oak Hill and Oakland Hills. Often he created challenging courses with very little earth moving; according to Jack Nicklaus, "His stamp as an architect was naturalness." His most widely known trademark is the crowned or "turtleback" green, most famously seen on US Open Course, Pinehurst No. 2. If, on the tee, in your mind’s eye, you are playing the hole backwards — "I want to putt from this side of the hole, so I need to get my approach there, and to get there I need to drive it here, but if I miss my drive, my alternate entry is…" - this is when you know that you are under Donald Ross’s wonderful spell.
Donald Steel was born in Middlesex, England in 1937 and educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh, and Cambridge University where he graduated with BA (Agriculture).
In his chosen careers of golf writing and golf course architecture, Donald Steel has earned unprecedented recognition from his two professional bodies. He has served as President of the Association of Golf Writers (1993-98) and the British Association of Golf Course Architects (1986-89).
As a golfer, Steel was proficient enough to take part in the 1970 Open Championship at St Andrews, and to have represented England at International amateur level.
Words of Bernard Darwin, whom he once met at Rye, and whose writing Steel so much admired, also lend an apt summary.
In 2003, Steel was named as the 4th most influential golf course architect in the world by Golf Magazine.
More recently, in February 2006, Steel received the singular honour of being elected President of the English Golf Union, never having previously played an active part in the Union's affairs.
Born in Wales in 1934, Dave was one of Europe's leading professional golfers for two decades having played the British Open on 16 occasions, represented Great Britain and Ireland 4 times in the Ryder Cup, played the US Open twice and the US Masters on 5 occasions just to name a few.
Dave Thomas founded his Course Design Company in 1958 with the objective of utilising his considerable international golf experience to design golf courses.
Following retirement from competitive playing, Dave initially served an apprenticeship with a leading golf course designer, Bernard von Limberger. Together with specialist study courses, his time with von Limberger gave him an understanding and appreciation of the technical skills necessary for golf course architecture, and these were to combine with his experiences as a top professional player to become the hallmark of quality and style of Dave Thomas golf courses.
Peter Alliss was a partner in the design business for a while. The Ryder Cup venue, the Belfry was a joint effort between the two men.
Over the last thirty years the company has gained considerable experience in the UK, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Italy, France as well as other parts of continental Europe, the Far East plus experience in North and South America and Africa.
Dave Thomas courses featured by Ascot Golf:
Robert Von Hagge
Robert Von Hagge grew up with golf. His father was an associate of legendary course designer Donald Ross and developed club facilities around the Chicago area. By the age of 17 Robert had been a caddy, assistant greens-keeper and assistant professional.
He majored in landscape architecture at university then in 1955 secured a job with famed US golf course architect Dick Wilson. By 1962, when he decided to start out on his own, he had helped in the design of more than 40 courses, including the legendary Bay Hill.
Since then Von Hagge has been responsible for many acclaimed courses across the world including Jamaica’s White Witch and La Seignosse in France.
His style is modern but with an undoubtedly natural look and he takes pains to ensure each course can be enjoyed by skilled and ordinary players.
Perhaps his outlook is best summed up though in his own words - “Great courses are beautiful courses.”