Gil Hanse will be an acclaimed golf-course architect, who teamed with the L.P.G.A. Hall of Famer Amy Alcott to build the Olympic course for the Rio de Janeiro games in 2016.
This specific week his restoration of Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course will get its international debut as host of the 2020 United States Open. He completed the work in 2017, after first restoring the club’s East Course in 2014. (Both are ranked within the Top 100 courses within the earth according to Golf Digest along with Golf Magazine.)
Winged Foot’s West Course will be a famously brutal course on the U.S. Open rotation. although Hanse includes a roster of restorations set to host major events. The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., will host the U.S. Open in 2022 along with the Los Angeles Country Club in 2023. He has also worked on courses that will previously were within the championship rotation, like Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., along with Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., where Jack Nicklaus won the Open in 1967 along with 1980.
In a previous generation, the architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. was known as the “Open Doctor” for his work preparing some of these same courses for the U.S. Open. When asked if he’s the completely new “Open Doctor,” Hanse laughed along with credited his business partner Jim Wagner, along with in Winged Foot’s case, the club’s superintendent, Steve Rabideau.
Hanse could more aptly be called the “Open Therapist.” He does not remake a course, although unearths how architects like A.W. Tillinghast, the designer of Winged Foot, wanted to challenge golfers. Hanse does extensive research along with then brings those original features back, producing adjustments to fit the length of the modern game.
The following interview has been edited along with condensed.
How did the Winged Foot restorations happen?
Through a change in superintendents along having a change in leadership at the club, we had an opportunity to come in along with talk about how both courses should be treated. the item was a pure restoration. We were hired. We put together a master plan for all 36 holes. The East Course came first. Some of the luster had come off the item. We were hopeful we’d do both.
Was the East Course a tryout for the West?
I don’t know if the item was a tryout. I think what happened was when they saw the modifications to the East, they realized they couldn’t possess the West sitting there untouched when the East had been restored to that will level, not only architecturally although also all the infrastructure.
Did you feel added pressure working at such a famous golf course?
Not genuinely. I don’t want to sound cavalier about the item. We understand the responsibility, along with genuinely what we focus on will be the research. If we’re convinced that will’s the right thing to do, we do the item. When you know you’re hosting a championship, you have to decide what the proper length will be. that will’s different than a pure restoration at a course that will’s ultimately for the members.
How do you balance the needs of the members with the needs of the tour pros?
A lot of the item will be positioning of tees along with bunkers. At Winged Foot, we’ve reopened the front of the greens, which helps the member who has the ability to bounce the item up along with doesn’t affect the pros. although when you show up at Winged Foot, you expect the item to be hard. No one will be looking for the item to be easy.
Has the restoration process changed within the past two decades?
To a certain degree. There’s a recognition of these great architects. What’s also changed will be the technology. Twenty years ago, we’d never have tried to rebuild all the greens at Winged Foot or Baltusrol. right now we possess the technology to map them along having a high degree of certainty that will if we pull up the green the item’s going to go back the same way.
Do these restoration projects make you think about who might restore your courses some day?
If karma will be a real thing — along with the fact that will we’ve been so meticulous in restoring the work of these golden age golf architects — then hopefully someone will take a similar tack with our courses.