Part of Greg Norman's original
design at Medalist Golf Club
An angry Shark
By Torleif Sorenson on 12/26/12
Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, was founded by two-time Open champion Greg Norman, who has made a legitimate name for himself as a golf architect. The club opened in 1994 with a co-design by Norman and the legendary Pete Dye; membership here is one of the sought-after among private clubs in Florida.

But as Tim Rosaforte reports, for some strange reason the club's current president, De Mudd has strangely decided to retain another architect, Bobby Weed, to design some updates to the course - this despite Norman offering his design services at no charge.

And the Shark is angry:
"It's really a slap in the face at the end of the day," Norman said via email. "It's the end of a legacy by the board doing what the board is doing now. It hurts a lot to tell the truth. It's a shame."
And according to Rosaforte, Mudd is hiding behind "club policy," refusing to discuss the reason for his decision. In response, Norman is making arrangements to have all of his memorabilia at Medalist removed from the club and returned to him. Furthermore, he is also demanding that the club remove not only his name, but also Pete Dye's name, from all club information and references.

Point of comparison: Clifford Roberts, the founding chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, was able to force changes to the famous course over the years in part because original architect Alister Mackenzie had died in 1934; in part because the club's founding president, the legendary Bobby Jones, was dealing with syringomyelia, the spinal disorder that eventually took his life; and in part because Roberts wielded power unchallenged at the club.

Of course, Mr. Jones's personality, his reputation as a gentleman golf hero, and as an attorney who disliked courtroom litigation, probably kept him from objecting to any changes to his beloved course.

This writer will not question Mr. Weed's experience or credentials as a golf architect; the PGA Tour selected Weed to design four of their TPC courses (Las Vegas, River Highlands, Summerlin, and Tampa Bay), the last time in 1992. But in shoving aside Greg Norman, it seems that Medalist Golf Club will lose at least some of its luster. Because it is a self-inflicted wound, it seems all the more unnecessary.

Knowing full well that this writer will likely never be invited to play as a guest at Medalist, I am still plenty interested in playing Norman's other course designs; his current "path of least disturbance" philosophy of design appears to be in-line with other "traditionalist" architects like Tom Doak, David McLay Kidd, and the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

And I deeply appreciate this approach. Someday, God and budget willing, I hope I can write about having played one of Norman's other designs.

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Image via Greg Norman Golf Course Design

[ comments ]
joe jones says:
There are some things that I find myself in disagreement with The Shark but this is not one of them. He should be disgusted with what appears to be a vendetta against him.Unless he has a negative history that has caused the problem with the board he should be offered first dibs on any course design. If they told him how they wanted to modify the course and he disagreed they have the option to use another designer. . If they just did it without offering it to him first it stinks. Th golf design business has been in decline for years so it is very competitive right now. I don,t know how they can pass up his "no fee" offer.
bkuehn1952 says:
I had the opportunity to play one of Greg Norman's designs, Doonbeg Golf Club (Ireland). A very interesting layout. Considering the site, located right against the ocean, it would have been hard to make a hash of the project. Still, Norman created a very playable course that blended well with the landscape and, to this amateur, the layout seemed in tune with the links course traditions of southwestern Ireland.

As to this dispute, I have to believe there is something more and only the participants know what the "more" is. Sometimes "free" isn't exactly free. Certainly if Greg Norman offered to perform all the redesign work at no cost and the club was able to retain whatever construction firm they desired to move the actual dirt, this was an unconscionable snub. Lacking any further details, I have to side with Greg Norman.
Kurt the Knife says:
follow the money
Matt McGee says:
... and in other news, De Mudd has something to gain personally by hiring course architect Bobby Weed to update the course at Medalist Golf Club. See commentary by Kurt the Knife.
legitimatebeef says:
DougE says:
Can't have kickbacks when the work is done for free. Hmmmm.
[ post comment ]
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