April 23, 2019 By: Art Stricklin — FRISCO, Texas — Golf course architect Perry Maxwell built few designs in Texas during his acclaimed career, but if Gil Hanse gets his way, there will be a strong Maxwell influence on the future site of the PGA of America headquarters.
The course Hanse is building is one of two public courses — his will be called the East Course, while Beau Welling will design a West Course — that will be open for play by 2022 with a groundbreaking scheduled for later this year. The East Course, measuring 7,603 yards from the back tees with a par of 72, has already been tapped to host two PGA Championships, the first in 2027 and another in ’34, along with a tentative Ryder Cup in 2040.
Hanse, who designed the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has recently redone Pinehurst No. 4 and is currently working on a complete renovation at Oakland Hills GC, outside Detroit. But it was his recent redo of the Maxwell classic at Southern Hills CC in Tulsa, Okla., that motivated him for the PGA Frisco project.
“I think you saw a true restoration of the (original) Maxwell course at Southern Hills and you’ll see a lot of stylistic imports from Maxwell at the PGA course here,” Hanse said Monday at a press event for the new PGA of America HQ. “I haven’t been to all the Maxwell courses, but you will see the deep bunkers around the greens and the smaller greens. That’s part of what I hope to see [here].”
Hanse said he will be moving to Frisco after the Christmas holidays along with his wife, Tracey, from their home outside Philadelphia to personally supervise the work.
“We’re empty nesters now and that’s our thing to move closer to important projects,” he said. “We did it in Rio for the Olympic Course and did it in Pinehurst for No. 4 and the Cradle Par 3. I will still fly in and out to other projects, but I will be close here. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the PGA.”
Hanse said he has already found some surprises in his trips to the Frisco, site, 40 minutes north of downtown Dallas.
“The elevation was a surprise to me and Beau as we walked the land,” he said. “I was expecting something pretty flat, but my eyes keep going up and up on the holes.”
Another less welcome surprise was the hundreds of acres of thick clay covering the land upon which he will build.
“All you had to do was look at your boots after you walked on the property,” he said. “We will have to move more dirt than we would like to, but we will also move the course in different directions to take advantage of the winds.”
He is planning large amphitheater mounds around the greens at holes 16 and 17, a long par 4 and short 3, respectively, before a bruising par-5 finisher. That hole is planned to stretch to 611 yards, where Panther Creek can come into play on three different shots including the finishing approach as the water tightly guards the green.
“You may not hear the roars you heard last week at the Masters, but I can promise you some pretty good noise as you’re coming down the home stretch of the course,” Hanse said.
Twenty-six PGA of America events are scheduled for the two courses over the next 13 years, not including the Ryder Cup which has not been officially awarded.
The West Course, which Welling is designing along with a short course, will be more user-friendly.
“It will be rustic, but we want it to be fun,” Welling said. “I want to bring my mother who may not be as good as I am, but still have a fun time on the golf course.”