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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anybody on that side of the business." Another gem in Hurdzan's stable can be located in an area that Teddy Roosevelt made famous. Medora, N.D., where Roosevelt hunted buffalo and owned a nearby cattle ranch, is the spot where Hurdzan developed Bully Pulpit Golf Course, rated by Golf Digest as the Best New Affordable Public Course in 2005. What makes Bully Pulpit special, besides its modest price tag of less than $2 million, is that Hurdzan proved — at a time when in-your-face, bigger-is-better golf courses dominated — that he still could produce a facility that was inexpensive yet could incorporate native areas, which meant he stayed true to his belief that the en- vironment must not be forsaken. "I think we raised the visibility of the environment. I read "Silent Spring" as a student, and when I was in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, I realized you don't mess around with this stuff," Hurdzan says. "I thought we've got to change the way we're doing business, reduce or eliminate chemicals, and build smart golf courses. We didn't jump on the bandwagon. We helped get the bandwagon going." Bully Pulpit is an extension of Hurdzan's environmental efforts, evident for years. He has had a relationship with GCSAA and its philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG), and served as EIFG chairman. He also established an endowment fund for the purpose of supporting environmental research on golf courses. Hurdzan developed and taught four different seminars for GCSAA, authored articles for GCM, and served on a panel for GCSAA's profes- sional development initiative. "It (Bully Pulpit) was confirmation to me that I still could throw a 50-yard pass," he says. "It's how we did things in our business until about 1990. We all went through a time of excess. We put in more bunkers than we should have. In the next four to 10 years, I hope we will have gotten away from that. We're going to have to if golf is going to grow and be sustainable." With all due respect to Erin Hills, two courses north of the border just may Top: Hurdzan on the course, in blue jeans, is busy with projects in the U.S. and abroad. Bottom: Hurdzan and his wife, Linda. Photos by Scott Kinslow be Hurdzan's masterpieces: Devil's Pulpit and Devil's Paintbrush. There's nothing trivial about these courses north of Toronto, Canada. Well, maybe there is. "Chris Haney and Scott Abbott, the guys who developed the game Trivial Pur- suit, held a tournament for investors of Trivial Pursuit, and they had heard com- plaints about slow play," Hurdzan says, "and one night Haney comes to me and says, 'Design me a world-class golf course.' The fact that somebody would trust me with a piece of ground and their money for a world-class golf course was a breakthrough." Hurdzan actually spotted two pieces of land three miles apart, yet they could "He's always been one of those people who lets his work talk for him. He doesn't need to crow about it. He is first and foremost a gentleman." — Bob Cupp not have been more different. Devil's Paintbrush was links style despite no sea in the vicinity. When it opened, Golf Digest ranked it the Best New Course of 1992. The pleasure of working with Hurdzan was all theirs. "I didn't win all the battles with him, but he still treats everybody with respect," says Ken Wright, the superintendent at Devil's Pulpit Golf Association and a 39-year GCSAA member. Although he had built a solid reputation, Hurdzan still hadn't cracked the club of architects who designed a course for a major championship. Bob Lang initiated the process in 2000 that ultimately would alter that course. Lang, who owned Erin Hills, 25 miles northwest of Milwaukee, was intent on putting Hurdzan in charge of designing a course that he thought would place Hurd- zan's name among the elite in his profession. When Hurdzan caught his first glimpse of Erin Hills, he knew Lang had something special. "I hadn't had the feeling I got when I first saw Erin Hills since the first time I saw Devil's Paintbrush," Hurdzan says. "You could not screw it up. It was impossible to screw up. The trick was how good you could make it because anything you put there would be spectacular." Current Erin Hills owner Andy Ziegler says, "There is no standard recipe for how to design a championship-quality, links-type golf course with fescue grass in glacial topography. They were working with truly unique circumstances. That's what makes what they produced all the more special." Hurdzan marveled at the possibilities for Erin Hills, from the thousands of po- 54 GCM December 2012

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