Source: VT Golf Magazine | Issue: Summer 1999 | Author: Bob Labbance
Synopsis: This article is about Frank Kennedy’s private golf course and how it became to be the course that served as his quiet retreat.
In the early years of golf in the United States, when the golf bug bit the upper crust of American society, many wealthy converts who had seen the venerable links of Scotland were dissatisfied with the courses that were formed in this country. They’d lobby club members to expand the layout and to spend more money on upkeep. When it didn’t happen, they’d take their ball and tee, retreat to their estate and build their own course. There they could spend as much of their personal fortunes as they wished to maintain the courses- and many did so lavishly- until the Depression brought that luxury to a half.
In the modern era, the motivations for constructing personal courses are different. Today, the wealthy golf enthusiasts may not have the time to travel to a club and play a five-hour round, may not want the public exposure or simply can’t join the exclusive country club they want to. The result is simple- hire an architect to build from one to 45 holes in your backyard- and play whenever you wish.
“These are people working on their games, to develop their skills,” says golf course architect Ron Kirby. “The impetus is not prestige, it’s the love of the game,” notes fellow architect Rees Jones. And without public play, there’s no need to be tied to the traditional concept of nine or 18 holes. “You can make one green play as if it’s a number of different holes,” says Brian Silva, who designed a par-3 hole with several approaches for one Winged Foot member. “I would kill for what he has in his backyard,” the designer admits.