Gil Hanse is an acclaimed golf-course architect, who teamed with the L.P.G.A. Hall of Famer Amy Alcott to construct the Olympic course for the Rio de Janeiro video games in 2016.
This week his restoration of Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course will get its worldwide debut as host of the 2020 United States Open. He accomplished the work in 2017, after first restoring the membership’s East Course in 2014. (Both are ranked within the Top 100 programs on the planet in accordance to Golf Digest and Golf Magazine.)
Winged Foot’s West Course is a famously brutal course on the U.S. Open rotation. But Hanse has a roster of restorations set to host main occasions. The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., will host the U.S. Open in 2022 and the Los Angeles Country Club in 2023. He has additionally labored on programs that beforehand had been within the championship rotation, like Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., and Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., the place Jack Nicklaus received the Open in 1967 and 1980.
In a earlier era, the architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. was generally known as the “Open Doctor” for his work making ready a few of these similar programs for the U.S. Open. When requested if he’s the brand new “Open Doctor,” Hanse laughed and credited his enterprise companion Jim Wagner, and in Winged Foot’s case, the membership’s superintendent, Steve Rabideau.
Hanse may extra aptly be known as the “Open Therapist.” He doesn’t remake a course, however reveals how architects like A.W. Tillinghast, the designer of Winged Foot, wished to problem golfers. Hanse does intensive analysis after which brings these unique options again, making changes to match the size of the fashionable recreation.
The following interview has been edited and condensed.
How did the Winged Foot restorations occur?
Through a change in superintendents and a change in management on the membership, we had a possibility to are available and discuss how each programs ought to be handled. It was a pure restoration. We had been employed. We put collectively a grasp plan for all 36 holes. The East Course got here first. Some of the luster had come off it. We had been hopeful we’d do each.
Was the East Course a tryout for the West?
I don’t know if it was a tryout. I believe what occurred was after they noticed the modifications to the East, they realized they couldn’t have the West sitting there untouched when the East had been restored to that degree, not solely architecturally but in addition all of the infrastructure.
Did you’re feeling added stress working at such a well-known golf course?
Not actually. I don’t need to sound cavalier about it. We perceive the accountability, and actually what we give attention to is the analysis. If we’re satisfied that’s the correct factor to do, we do it. When you recognize you’re internet hosting a championship, you will have to determine what the right size is. That’s totally different than a pure restoration at a course that’s finally for the members.
How do you steadiness the wants of the members with the wants of the tour execs?
Lots of it’s positioning of tees and bunkers. At Winged Foot, we’ve reopened the entrance of the greens, which helps the member who has the power to bounce it up and doesn’t have an effect on the professionals. But if you present up at Winged Foot, you count on it to be onerous. No one is in search of it to be straightforward.
Has the restoration course of modified prior to now twenty years?
To a sure diploma. There’s a recognition of those nice architects. What’s additionally modified is the expertise. Twenty years in the past, we’d by no means have tried to rebuild all of the greens at Winged Foot or Baltusrol. Now we’ve the expertise to map them and a excessive diploma of certainty that if we pull up the inexperienced it’s going to return the identical approach.
Do these restoration tasks make you concentrate on who would possibly restore your programs some day?
If karma is an actual factor — and the truth that we’ve been so meticulous in restoring the work of those golden age golf architects — then hopefully somebody will take an identical tack with our programs.