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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"I won the super lotto with him. I just am so damn lucky to not have my father dead by the time I realize it." — Chris Hurdzan tential routings to the fact no green site would have to be changed more than 1 foot from its original elevation. The land formation also made it ideal; the increment of space from the tops of hills to the bottoms of valleys was almost perfect. The goal was to design the course the way Old Tom Morris would have done it. In 2010, Hurdzan attended the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where the USGA made a mid-week announcement in the media center on the U.S. Open site for 2017. The outcome? The retired colonel got his major. "Elation," Hurdzan says, recalling his initial reaction. "You're just blown away by the honor. This was something very few living architects will ever experience." Hurdzan didn't need to add a major to his stable in order for peer Pete Dye, whose Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C., played host to this year's PGA Cham- pionship, to acknowledge his validity. Dye considered Hurdzan relevant long ago. "He gives people what they want," says Dye, 2003 Old Tom Morris Award recipi- ent. "Mike's done a lot of work that is good for the environment, and that is how it should be." ASGCA President Bob Cupp is fairly certain that Hurdzan stayed humble, as usual, when Erin Hills landed the U.S. Open. "He's always been one of those people who lets his work talk for him. He doesn't need to crow about it," Cupp says. "He is first and foremost a gentleman." Comfortable in his own skin … or jeans If he could pick a theme song for himself, Hurdzan only has one choice to make: Neil Diamond's "Forever in Blue Jeans." Hurdzan says 95 percent of his life is spent in blue jeans, and he makes no apologies for it. "It's who I am, it's comfortable, practical, fits my character," says Hurdzan, whose philanthropic ways include being a major supporter of Fore Hope, an organization that creates therapeutic golf opportunities for people with disabilities. "My son says I understate myself too much. I don't know if that's necessarily right or not. A sign in our Army room said your green beret says more about you than you say about yourself. I really believe that. I think my character ought to speak about who I am, what I am, not the fact that I'm wearing fancy clothes and a Rolex. Blue jeans are basic, pedestrian. I enjoy being pedestrian." His son, Chris, now just happens to be his business partner. When Hurdzan and Hurdzan (far left), his wife, Linda (center), and son, Chris (far right), dabble in World Super Karts. Photo by Charles Nestor Fry announced this year they were going their separate ways after they complete ongoing projects, it immediately elevated Chris' status. He sounds well prepared for whatever comes their way, including current projects such as Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club and Camelback Resorts. He should be ready; Chris has had a T-square in his grip ever since he can remember. "I grew up around this office that had a bunch of superstars, in an environment that was so supportive, which my dad fostered," Chris Hurdzan, 31, says. "I won the super lotto with him. I just am so damn lucky to not have my father dead by the time I realize it." The "Forever in Blue Jeans" thing fits her husband perfectly, Linda Hurdzan says. She rarely sees him upset, but can hear the tone of his voice change when he is bothered. "No matter how successful he got, he just wanted people to accept him for who he is, that he didn't have to play a role, and that he could walk in a room in blue jeans and still be accepted," she says. In his spare time, Mike Hurdzan dabbles in World Super Karts. He sometimes races in mid-Ohio, Michigan, anywhere he can get a fix, and has topped out at 147 miles per hour at famed Daytona Speedway. Now, as he cruises toward the finish line of a heavily decorated career, Hurdzan checks the rearview mirror and abso- lutely likes what he sees. "My cup runneth over many times," says Hurdzan, convinced he has lived a charmed life, thankful now that Vietnam wasn't in the cards for him so long ago. "I truly have been blessed. Even things that weren't so good were blessings. Sometimes it just takes time to find out why." GCM Howard Richman (hrichman@gcsaa.org) is GCM's associate editor. 56 GCM December 2012

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