Born into the coal and steel proletariat of 1940s West Virginia, Michael J. Hurdzan, Ph.D. (Col. Ret-USAR Special Forces) found himself well outside the gates of the local country club. Seven decades later, he became the fifth person in golf to achieve the non-playing “Grand Slam” as recipient of the highest honor from our industry’s “Big 3”: the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the Golf Course Builders Association of America. Today, there are now seven on that list: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Rees Jones, Pete Dye and Hurdzan. If such universal peer recognition for a mere mortal seems improbable, consider the “Slam” had shorter odds than Erin Hills, an original design of Hurdzan with then business partner Dana Fry and Golf Digest Architectural Editor Ron Whitten which, in 10 years, evolved from a “$50 green fee public course in rural Wisconsin” to host of the 2017 US Open.
In a career still accelerating, which began in 1957 as an apprentice to the late American Society of Golf Course Architects Past President and firm founder Jack Kidwell, Hurdzan has authored 6 books, the first of which, Golf Course Architecture: Evolutions in Design, Construction, and Restoration Technology, is regarded by many authorities as “the modern bible of golf course design.” Four hundred plus projects bearing the Hurdzan name can now be found on 5 continents including a suite of “Top 100” North American designs. To demonstrate that golf and the environment can coexist, and well before “environmental” became a fashionable marketing qualifier, Hurdzan created this nation’s first Environmental Demonstration Golf Course (Widow’s Walk, MA) and first Environmental Education Golf Course (FarmLinks, AL)
Hurdzan remains steadfast that Devil’s Paintbrush (Toronto), crafted for the originators of the board game Trivial Pursuit, remains his finest design, even though it occurred some 25 years ago before the days of the “roaring 2000s” when golf architecture lost much of its simple, cerebral elegance. Drawing upon an age defying vitality, Hurdzan continues to share his unparalleled experience with a hand selected suite of clients who wish to tastefully and pragmatically re-project the principles of “Golden Age Architecture” across select commissions east of the Mississippi.