After seeing a preview for the new movie The Monuments Men a thought crossed my mind about how that concept might loosely apply to golf. For those not familiar with the movie, the plot is based around a group of men who volunteer for World War II and accept the unusual mission of saving art and other rare antiquities from destruction by the Nazis. Ok, so as far as I know there is no record of golf antiquities being saved from an evil government, but golf does have a group of guys who could certainly be called Monuments Men.
Over the last 100+ years a number of golf courses have been built as a result of a one man’s vision and a select few of those courses have come to be recognized as monuments to a singular individual’s passion for the game of golf. Below are my nominations for the Monuments Men of golf.
Charles Blair Macdonald / Chicago Golf Club (1894) & National Golf Links of America (1911) – The father of American golf, Macdonald created the first 18 hole golf course in the U.S. when he founded the Chicago Golf Club. This club stands not only as a monument to C.B. Macdonald but also to American golf. Macdonald may also be even more well known for National Golf Links of America which was his dream course that he referred to as the “ideal golf course”.
Henry Fownes / Oakmont Country Club (1903) – Fownes is the founder of Oakmont Country Club as well as the architect of the world renowned golf course. Oakmont is the only course designed by Fownes and it is nearly always ranked in the Top 10 on both the Top 100 U.S. and World lists.
George Crump / Pine Valley Golf Club (1918) – A Philadelphia hotelier who’s passion for golf drove him to build a golf club in the pine barrens of New Jersey. At one time referred to as “Crump’s Folly”, today the golf course is often rated as the #1 course in the world.
Bobby Jones / Augusta National Golf Club (1933) – Not much needs to be said about great amateur champion Bobby Jones’ legacy in golf. It’s impossible to think about Augusta National or The Masters and not think of Bobby Jones.
Dick Youngscap / Sand Hills Golf Club (1994) – Sand Hills is the ultimate and original destination golf course. Mr. Youngscap took the mantra “build it and they will come” and applied it to golf. It took a lot of vision to build a golf club in a town with a population of 300 located in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. Today Sand Hills is widely considered to be the best golf course built in the modern era.
Mike Keiser / Bandon Dunes (1999) – The whole story is detailed in the book Dream Golf, but the short story is that Mike Keiser wanted to build an authentic links golf course in America that was open to the public. He found a remote piece of land on the coast of Oregon and built his first golf course there. Three more courses later Bandon Dunes Golf Resort is the premier golf destination in America.