Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

56 best at everything. Unfortunately, not enough people recognise the genius that preceded us. It’s too often forgotten.” Led by his strong sense of history and an admiration for the works of his predecessors, Prichard took advantage of his travels while working for Finger and Muirhead. He visited many of the most admired courses throughout the United States and quickly realised that some great architecture from pre-World War II was being damaged, destroyed and, in some cases, lost entirely to natural evolution and so-called progress. This led Prichard to start thinking seriously about golf course restoration. Not only did he sincerely believe that restoration was the right approach to improving many courses originally designed by pioneers like Ross, but it was potentially a good business strategy relative to differentiating himself from his competitors at the time. Still, Prichard’s career has been more of a mission than a business interest. “I knew early on that I wanted to restore golf courses,” he says. “I wanted to help people appreciate and celebrate the heritage of their historic golf courses.” Prichard arrived at Texarkana Country Club five years before Rees Jones’ restorative-based work at the Country Club at Brookline outside Boston was showcased during the 1988 US Open. Jones’ efforts to restore William Flynn’s work at Brookline is held up as one of the first attempts at a sincere restoration of an original golf course design. At Texarkana, Prichard learned that the club’s William Langford-designed course had been reworked on at least two occasions since it opened for play during the mid-1920s. Prichard was given Langford’s original plan for the course. He claims it was immediately obvious that the boldness and creativity of Langford’s original design had been lost. So, rather than reinvent Texarkana again, Prichard decided there was a genuine and worthy opportunity to take a restorative- based approach to improving the club’s course. “I’m not immensely proud of what I did at Texarkana these days,” Prichard says, three decades later. “I was still trying to figure out what I was doing and how do it properly.” Byron Nelson was impressed, though. Nelson, a Texas native whose storied career as a touring professional is legendary, was familiar with Langford’s course at Texarkana and effusive in his praise of Prichard’s restorative-based work, there. The two remained lifelong friends until Nelson’s death in 2006. Through his golf affiliations in Texas, Prichard also became well-acquainted with 1981 Open champion, Bill Rogers. During the mid-1980s, Rogers introduced Prichard to a prospective Tournament Players Club development near San Antonio. Prichard still speaks highly of the course’s potential, but it was never built. A few years later, the PGA Tour gave Prichard another chance near Memphis. With input “I wanted to help people appreciate and celebrate the heritage of their historic golf courses” Above, Prichard’s master plan for the 2009 restoration of Mountain Ridge in New Jersey; facing page, one of his field sketches from the restoration of Portland CC in Maine