Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

54 THE P IONEER T he restoration of original golf course designs from the pre- World War II era has become relatively big business. A number of contemporary golf course architects exclusively work at reversing the effects of natural evolution and redesign at aged courses these days, restoring bunkers, removing trees, expanding green surfaces and widening fairways back out to their original parameters. Restoration was not, though, part of golf’s lexicon in 1983 when Texarkana Country Club asked golf architect Ron Prichard to have a look at improving its historic course. Texarkana Country Club is a stone’s throw over the Texas state line in neighbouring Arkansas. Following stints working as an associate to golf architects Joe Finger, Desmond Muirhead and Robert von Hagge, Prichard had recently established his own practice based in the Woodlands outside Houston. By 1945, at the conclusion of the Second World War, most of the pioneer golf architects in North America had died. Custodianship of their golf course designs had disappeared, too. Finger, Muirhead and von Hagge were part of a new legion of golf architects who filled a post-war void and subsequently ushered in a new design philosophy. Led by Robert Trent Jones, and his infamous redesign of Donald Ross’s South course at Oakland Hills Country Club in suburban Detroit, a new era of progressive architects, including Finger, Muirhead and von Hagge, were looking forward, not back. “Joe definitely represented the new American school of golf architecture,” says Prichard. “He was brilliant… an engineering graduate of MIT and a decent golfer, too. But Joe never went to Scotland or studied the great American courses that preceded his work. He really had no interest.” The father of restoration Jeff Mingay and Vaughn Halyard look at the career of Ron Prichard RON PR I CHARD