GOLF’S EARLY GREAT ARCHITECTS
AND THEIR FLORIDA FOOTPRINTS

Story by: Mike May

ARCHITECTS OF FLORIDA'S
HISTORIC GOLF TRAIL
Donald Ross
William Langford
Wayne Stiles
W.H. “Bert” Way

In the world of golf, so much attention is given to the beauty of the golf courses and the talented men and women who play the game of golf.  But, there’s never enough credit and recognition given to the golf course architects who designed these wonderful layouts which are forever etched in our minds, sketched on canvas, and captured by cameras.  Many of these holes – the 18th at St. Andrews, the 12th at Augusta, and the 17th at TPC Sawgrass – are indelible images in the minds of golfers.  While many of today’s top golf course architects – Gil Hanse, John Sanford, Steve Smyers, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Fazio, Arthur Hills, Bill Coore, and Ben Crenshaw, the late Pete Dye, among others -- are talented and creative visionaries, all of them owe a debt of gratitude to the game’s early architects, all of whom were also very talented and creative visionaries, yet didn’t have access to today’s modern tools and machinery which allow tasks to be completed in minutes or hours rather than days or weeks, as it did back in the day.

Those late, great golf course architects of yesteryear are no longer with us, but they have left behind many priceless footprints  -- a series of golf courses which have formed, for instance, the foundation for today’s Florida Historic Golf Trail, a group of 53 public-access golf courses that stretch from the Osceola Golf Club in Pensacola in the Florida panhandle to the Key West Golf Club in the Florida Keys.

Without the efforts of Donald Ross, William Langford, Theodore Moreau, Wayne Stiles,  John van Cleek, and W.H. “Bert” Way, there wouldn’t be a Florida Historic Golf Trail.  Combined, those six golf course architects played a role in the design and construction of 20 golf courses along this Trail. 

Each of their respective creations is a reflection of their design tendencies and characteristics.  Each of these golf courses is a living, breathing monument honoring their commitment to golfing excellence and your golfing pleasure to this day.

At the Delray Beach Golf Club, Ross showed his visionary prowess.  His concept of building raised greens protected by sand bunkers was a great idea in the 1920s and remains relevant to this day.  All but two of the Delray Beach GC’s greens are guarded by at least two sand bunkers. 

At the Miami Springs Golf and Country Club, Langford and Moreau designed open entrances to nearly every green and they didn’t insert bunkers or a water hazard either.  That allows many players easier access to the greens which speeds up play.  Langford and Moreau were known for their frequent use of the steam shovel to move dirt and create different looks on their golf courses, especially large green complexes.  Langford and Moreau also liked the variety in their par 3s.

At the Clewiston Golf Club, Stiles and van Cleek were big disciples of Ross so they also incorporated raised greens into their Clewiston design which adds to the degree of difficulty and satisfaction of getting up and down for par.

At the Sebring Golf Club, Way made the most of limited land by incorporating many doglegs into his design.  He also kept the distances from tees to greens as little as possible which made walking more appealing then and now.

By playing golf courses along the Florida Historic Golf Trail, it will be your chance to reconnect with some of golf’s early great architects who were talented and creative visionaries who left behind memorable, indelible footprints.

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