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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Q & A with golf course architect Jim Engh

The full interview will follow, but here are some snippets of the interview I did with Jim Engh, Golf Digest's architect of the year in 2003.


JF: What’s the most important goal for you in creating a successful design.

Engh: For me, it’s all about options. The more ways to play a hole and get a ball close to the pin, the better.

JF: What courses of the British Isles have given you ideas for your own holes?

Engh: Both courses at Ballybunion are incredible. I love a lot of the holes at the Cashen course, especially number 15. I also love the Old Course as well. 18 is just a fantastic finishing hole. Also the Northwest of Ireland holds a special place in my heart. My design team and I go over about four times a year. Enniscrone, Carne, and Rosapenna are some of my favorite courses on Earth. I’m really grateful to have a chance to work right now on the new nine at Carne.

JF: Let’s assume Phil, Ernie, Vijay and Tiger all decide they are fed up with talking and speculating and put up $1,000,000.00 of their own money each in a one hole, winner take all shootout that will be televised nationwide. Which one of your public golf holes would you select for them to play?

Engh: (without hesitation) Number 12 at Fossil Trace. The sandstone pillars in the playing field create all sorts of options, but can also make you find a creative way to the hole if you put one in your way. Also, the viewing public should see that hole and this course. It’s pretty for the TV audience and it’s got fascinating history that the University has done a great job preserving.

JF: What does it feel like to have one of your courses [Redlands] immortalized in a video game?

Engh: A little excited and a little apprehensive. I hope they show the course well, but they are an excellent company so I know they’ll do good work.

JF: You just won the Masters. What’s for dinner?

Engh: North Dakota prime aged Grade A steaks. Best beef in the country!

JF: What are some of the things that make you cringe as a designer when playing golf?

Engh: People playing the wrong tees is the biggest issue for me. It slows down play, people enjoy the course less, and they play the course in the wrong proportions. They don’t see the course as it was laid out for their skill level and then they just brand it as too hard.

JF: What about in terms of architecture?

Engh: I try not to close my mind about different things other architects do because I might learn something. My biggest pet peeve is when I see a lack of passion in someone’s work…you can tell when somebody mailed it in or if they didn’t care about every inch of the place. The greatest honor to me is when someone says take my property and build a golf course on it.



Red Hawk Ridge G.C. (CO, 1999)
Hawktree G.C. (ND, 2000)
The Golf Club at
Redlands Mesa (CO, 2001)
Tullymore G.C (MI, 2002)
Fossil Trace G.C. (CO, 2003)
Lakota Canyon G.C. (CO, 2004)
Snowmass Club (CO, 2004)


Columbia Point G.C. (WA, 1997)
Sanctuary G.C. (CO, 1997)
The Club at Black Rock (ID, 2003)
True North Golf Club (MI, 2004)
The Club at Pradera (CO, 2005)
Vistancia C.C. (AZ, 2005)


Dragon Hills G.C. (Thailand, 1998)
Dong Guan Hillview G.C. (China, 1998, 2001)


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