Golf Course Management

DEC 2012

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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left him unfulfilled. "I wanted to be a real live warrior, a cutter and a shooter, not some technical geek," Hurdzan says. If he had fought for his country, Whitten imagines Hurdzan would have been outstanding. "Mike has a work ethic like no one Cool and collected Arnold Palmer Table Golf, preserved inside a box and enclosed in a glass case, is just a tiny sample of the treasures in golf course architect Mike Hurdzan's office. We're talking 5,000 square feet off Old Henderson Road in Columbus, Ohio, where the golf course architect has assembled a collection of memorabilia that keeps a visitor enthralled for hours. Golf artifacts from all eras, including a putter that Hurdzan thinks came from the pre-1830s and golf course architect Alister MacKenzie's book "Golf Architecture" that he signed on the inside cover, only scratch the surface of conversation pieces that can be viewed. Hurdzan's best estimate of his collection's value: $2 million. A copy of the first golf book published in America and signed by C.B. Macdonald along with his personal book plate alone is probably worth $12,000, he believes. That sounds like a fairly decent return on investment, considering Hurdzan has spent ap- proximately $300,000 since he triggered this hobby in 1968 after receiving a Christmas present of two old golf course architecture books. "I found that my innocent beginnings as a book collector grew into a full-fledged addiction to anything golf," Hurdzan says. His collection surrounds space for drawing boards, employee offices and a video/confer- ence room. There also is a bar and party area, undoubtedly a cozy spot for guests and those happy hours Hurdzan staged for his employees on Thursdays. A synthetic putting green is avail- able to try. Of course, everything is protected by an elaborate security and surveillance system. What else would you expect from a retired U.S. Army Green Beret? The highlights of a trip down memory lane in Hurdzan's shrine to golf are endless. The framed poster of the movie "Space Jam" is signed by legendary basketball star Michael Jordan. A 1930s vintage Mills slot machine seems to be in fine shape. Copies of green plans drawn by MacKenzie for Augusta National Golf Club and Bobby Jones that had long been forgotten, stored in a file cabinet, now are in Hurdzan's clutches. There also is a machine used by MacGregor that produced wood golf clubs 100 years ago. Although he doesn't advertise his office/museum, Hurdzan welcomes visitors. One time, fellow golf course architect Pete Dye checked it out. "He had a picture of me right over the toilet," Dye says, obviously amused by its placement. "I even said, 'That's a great place to put it.' Mike really is a good friend." Hurdzan has so many possessions that they spill over into his office vault and even his home. His book collection alone is in the 6,000 range. Speaking of books, that MacKenzie-signed book has special meaning for Hurdzan, partly because it proved to him what he can unearth if he looks far and wide enough in his quest to compile a collection that has few equals. "When I bought the book (he thinks it cost somewhere between $75 and $100), a piece of paper fell out of the back. It was a map of the Old Course and signed "To my friend A.W. Tilling- hast from Alister MacKenzie." Obviously, the book had been meant for Tillinghast. Here you had two of the most notable architects of their era. The guy who sold it to me didn't even know that note was in there. It turned out to be one of my most prized possessions." — H.R. 48 GCM December 2012 else that I know," Whitten says. "I don't know how he does it. I think he's liter- ally reading a book when he brushes his teeth in the morning. It's why he has an edge on a lot of the competition. If he doesn't have an answer, he's going to find the answer." Yet when word arrived that he would be presented with GCSAA's most pres- tigious honor, Hurdzan was speechless. Once he processed the information, Hurdzan found the right words. "I am so honored because golf course are my superintendents friends, my buddies, my colleagues," says Hurd- zan, who also has received the Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), the Don A. Rossi Award from the Golf Course Builders Association of Amer- ica (GCBAA), and in 1997 was chosen golf architect of the year by Golf World magazine. "Old Tom is with all of us. From all reports, he was gentle, under- standing, very driven, very competitive. I think I try as hard as I can." Designs on his future Introduction to Golf 101 sounds like the name of a college course — and completely appropriate in Hurdzan's case. Ultimately, it had everything to do with his career path. As a college freshman at The Ohio State University, Hurdzan tried out for the golf team. His class included Tom Weiskopf and Ed Sneed, who were fairly imposing figures (Weiskopf would win the 1973 British Open; Sneed had a 5-stroke lead entering the final round of the 1979 Masters but lost in a playoff to Fuzzy Zoeller). "I looked around, thought, 'There's no way I'm going to beat those guys.' I said to myself that there's other ways to stay in golf," says Hurdzan, once a 6 handicap who now says he's a happy dude when he breaks 90. Hurdzan possessed a deep back-

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