In working with existing golf courses, our firm approaches each with the philosophy of preserving the past while recognizing the demands of the modern game. We carefully collect and study historic plans and photographs as well as assessing the needs of the current infrastructure. We use this information to develop a vision for the golf course that will ensure that the intent of the original architect is retained when appropriate while intentionally bringing the course forward into the future.
Our firm has successfully restored many of the courses of the “Golden Age” golf course designers. An early example is The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, which we restored prior to the 1988 U.S. Open. At TCC, what had been changed over the years was restored; what had been abandoned was recovered; what was never changed was left alone. This trailblazing restoration started a trend in golf course architecture that continues today.
Often the process depends on what changes have been done in intervening years. At Bethpage Black, the entire model of what to do was visible because, although it had deteriorated, no one had changed anything since it opened in 1936. We did have to make modifications to the original Tillinghast design to make it relevant for today’s best players prior to the 2002 U.S. Open.
On the other hand, Donald Ross designed Pinehurst No.2 in 1935. Because he lived adjacent to the course in a cottage just behind the third green, he constantly fiddled with the course until the day he died in 1948. This is a good example of our firm working on a model that, while it is the original designer’s work, is not the exact original design. In this case, because the original designer made the changes himself, it was best to use the 1948 model as our guide when we did a restoration prior to the 1999 U.S. Open.
With respect to Medinah Country Club bringing back Rees Jones to restore Medinah No. 2 in 2016, Golf Course Architecture magazine stated:
“Reviewing the work on No. 2 this May, it is easy to see why the club again tapped Jones to assist with the project. If there is anyone who knows about golf course restoration, it is Rees Jones, who some consider to be the father of the restoration movement starting with his work at The Country Club in Brookline …”