Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

57 RON PR I CHARD from major champions Hubert Green and Fuzzy Zoeller, Prichard designed TPC Southwind, which has hosted the PGA Tour’s FedEx St. Jude Classic annually since 1989. Since, Prichard has mindfully restored many of America’s pioneering golf course designs from the pre-World War II era: from Maine (Portland Country Club) to Florida (Mountain Lake), Boston (Charles River Country Club) to Iowa (Cedar Rapids Country Club) and New Jersey (Mountain Ridge Country Club). “I’ve never gone into a meeting trying to sell anything,” Prichard explains. “I’ve only ever tried to offer some wisdom about the importance of preserving and, when necessary, restoring what’s been damaged, destroyed or lost. I’ve simply tried to convince these old historic clubs that in some cases they’ve made some mistakes that should be reversed.” Expressive and opinionated, Prichard is modest. He’s never had a stomach for self-promotion. There’s no Ron Prichard Golf Architect website, no business cards or other promotional materials to be had. All of Prichard’s projects have come via word of mouth referrals, which he takes great pride in. Now in his mid-70s, Prichard is as passionate about his work as ever. “I’m trying to slow down a bit,” he says. “But I still enjoy what I do. I love working with clients who are fun and will listen and, hopefully, learn. I take pride in delivering work that they’ll take pride in, and along the way demonstrating that maybe I do know a little more than the average green committee member at most clubs.” A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, where he studied economics and fine arts while lettering in golf, Prichard is a true artist. “Ron intricately sketches features on paper to give shapers, like me, an exact three- dimensional image of what he wants to accomplish,” explains Tyler Rae, who has mentored under Prichard as a golf architect and feature shaper over the past seven years. “Ron’s method is similar to Tom Simpson’s, the way Simpson sketched his holes and green sites and bunkers during the 1920s and ‘30s.” Prichard’s hand-drawn sketches are sought after by golf course architecture aficionados, along with a collection of beautiful golf course master plan renderings he’s produced with his closest friend and long- time collaborator, Marilyn Milner. Prichard and Milner met in Texas during the early 1980s, about the time he was establishing his own practice. “Marilyn’s been the key to my success,” Prichard says with sincere joy. “My work has been really gratifying,” he adds. “I enjoy working with people. I’ve appreciated every opportunity I’ve been given to teach golfers to appreciate the history of their golf courses, and to encourage them to celebrate and preserve that heritage.” There are more famous courses than William Langford’s original design at Texarkana Country Club. But it was there, in Arkansas, that for the first time, a contemporary golf architect looked back to guide a golf club into its future. GCA Jeff Mingay is a golf architect based in Canada, while Vaughn Halyard is a filmmaker and was greens chair during a Prichard-led restoration of his Donald Ross-designed home course Images: Ron Prichard