Our firm began in 1957 with one man, grew to 2 in 1975, exploded to 21 by 1988, was selectively pared to 11 in 1995 and matured into a boutique of 2 partner's since 2012. Many talents have come and gone, but Hurdzan, and in spirit, Kidwell, remain.
Christopher Michael Hurdzan, Ph.D., M.Jur., MBA
Dr. Hurdzan was born into golf architecture, a curious fact in that it is one of the few not shared with his father / business partner.
He swung his first club at three, joined his father on golf course construction visits at six, became the youngest participant in an American Society of Golf Course Architects annual meeting (St. Andrews, Scotland) at 13 and joined the payroll of his father’s firm at 15.
Despite a seemingly clear fate, never was he expected to enter the profession of course architecture – nor was it a surprise when he did. However, he soon recognized that such a decision demanded a persuasive suite of on and off course credentials if clients were to accept him in lieu of his father, and thus he charted a strategic course to do just that.
His formative years were enlightening, spent during the late 90s and early 2000s in which he witnessed the triumphs and subsequent failures of our industry’s literal achievement of National Golf Foundation’s “Build a Course a Day” proclamation. But it was his repositioning of a multi-decade original design brand into a renovation centric boutique that remains his greatest source of pride.
Patience, observation, and access to his father’s world-renowned architectural library replete with the classic texts of “Golden Age Masters” has convinced Dr. Hurdzan that the foundation of all elegant design – be it Greek architecture, English gardens, Italian sports cars or North American golf courses – is complexity masquerading as simplicity.
It is from this singular skillset and pragmatic philosophy that Dr. Hurdzan partners with his clients to enhance the romantic heritage, undiscriminating playability, practical maintenance, stunning visuals and incomparable pleasure of their respective esteemed brands.
Michael John Hurdzan, Ph.D., ASLA, ASGCA Fellow
Born into the coal and steel proletariat of 1940s West Virginia, Dr. Michael J. Hurdzan (Colonel, Retired, USAR, Special Forces) found himself well outside the gates of the local country club.
Seven decades later, he became the fifth person in golf to achieve the non-playing “Grand Slam” as recipient of the highest honor from our industry’s “Big 3”: the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, the American Society of Golf Course Architects and the Golf Course Builders Association of America. Today, there are now seven on that list: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Rees Jones, Pete Dye and Dr. Hurdzan.
If such universal peer recognition for a mere mortal seems improbable, consider the “Slam” had shorter odds than Erin Hills, an original design of Dr. Hurdzan with then business partner Dana Fry and Golf Digest Architectural Editor Ron Whitten which, in 10 years, evolved from a “$50 green fee public course in rural Wisconsin” to host of the 2017 US Open
In a career still accelerating, which began in 1957 as an apprentice to the late American Society of Golf Course Architects Past President and firm founder Jack Kidwell, Dr. Hurdzan has authored 6 books, the first of which, Golf Course Architecture: Evolutions in Design, Construction, and Restoration Technology, is regarded by many authorities as “the modern bible of golf course design.”
Four hundred plus projects bearing the Hurdzan name can now be found on 5 continents including a suite of “Top 100” North American designs. To demonstrate that golf and the environment can coexist, and well before “environmental” became a fashionable marketing qualifier, Dr. Hurdzan created this nation’s first Environmental Demonstration Golf Course (Widow’s Walk, MA) and first Environmental Education Golf Course (FarmLinks, AL).
Dr. Hurdzan remains steadfast that Devil’s Paintbrush (Toronto), crafted for the originators of the board game Trivial Pursuit, remains his finest design, even though it occurred some 25 years ago before the days of the “roaring 2000s” when golf architecture lost much of its simple, cerebral elegance.
Drawing upon an age defying vitality, Dr. Hurdzan continues to share his unparalleled experience with a hand selected suite of clients who wish to tastefully and pragmatically re-project the principles of “Golden Age Architecture” across select commissions east of the Mississippi.
Jack Kidwell, PGA, ASGCA, CGCS
1918 - 2001
Shortly after earning medalist honors in the 1937 Division I State Golf Championship, our founder, Mr. Jack Kidwell (1918-2001), born to a poor sharecropping family on the west side of Columbus (OH) during the Great Depression, finally convinced his father that owning a golf course couldn’t be any less profitable than farming at the time. Subsequently, a land grant contract for the local 9-hole Beacon Light course was executed, propelling the Kidwell family into the business of golf and in 1957, most unexpectedly for Jack, a career in golf course architecture.
Absent any formal training or mentorship, Jack employed his playing acumen and personal value set – simplicity, humility, tradition, prudence, function, empathy – to formulate his courses. This romantic combination, albeit far better suited to priesthood than the often mercenary hubris of golf course architecture, would eventually translate into 100 or so modest layouts where tens of thousands of public golfers continue to learn and enjoy the game.
Through an unrelenting work ethic and genuine interest in helping his fellow man, Jack would ultimately serve his country in World War II and become a Class “A” PGA Teaching Professional, a Class “A” member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects and member of the Ohio Golf Hall of Fame.
Although the popular press rarely noticed this “Johnny Appleseed of Golf”, a personal preference for obscurity furthered by his aversion to air travel, the state of Ohio did. On our bicentennial, Jack was posthumously selected as the single greatest contributor to the game of golf in Ohio alongside such iconoclasts as Jesse Owens (Track and Field), Paul Brown (Football) and Cy Young (Baseball).
Jack was Norman Rockwell’s “everyman” whose designs neither would, nor were intended to, bring him wealth or fame. But he did have a limitless rolodex of beloved friends which he considered to be his greatest accomplishment. And because of this, just as with George Bailey in the film “It’s A Wonderful Life”, Jack was always “the richest man in town”.