Raymond Hearn Golf Course Designs Celebrates 25-Year Anniversary
Michigan golf’s Ray Hearn celebrates his 25th year in business as a course designer in 2021.
Hearn is one of a group of designers — including Arthur Hills, Bill Newcomb, Mike DeVries, Paul Albanese, Chris Lutzke, and the Matthews family — whose names pop up on scorecards all over Michigan.
Raymond Hearn Golf Course Designs is based in Holland, Michigan.
One of my favorite courses — The Grande in Jackson — is a Hearn design. Some of Hearn’s other well-known Michigan projects include Moose Ridge, Eagle Glen, the Fox Hills Strategic Course, Gateway, Hemlock, Island Hills, Macatawa Legends, Majestic and The Natural. There are several on that list I have yet to get play, but I hope to in the coming season.
Ray Hearn Golf Course Designs not only does new courses, but also restoration, renovation and remodeling of older ones.
In fact, restorations, renovations and remodeling make up 80 percent of Raymond Hearn Golf Designs’ current work. In the company’s early days, new design comprised 60% of the portfolio.
“We are still lucky enough to have some new 18-hole designs kicking around,” Hearn said. “Times have changed in the industry though. There are fewer new courses being constructed, especially in the USA, but at the same time there are wonderful opportunities to restore, renovate or remodel existing courses that over time have come to need updating in various ways. Our company excels in this.”
“It has been a great ride thus far with a couple bumps – recessions – mixed in here and there,” Hearn, ASGCA member and the company’s president and founder, said.
“We have stayed busy during these 25 years and our portfolio remains diverse with a variety of projects.”
The American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) has acknowledged Raymond Hearn Golf Course Designs with Design Excellence Recognition Awards five times since 2012. Some of the company’s projects have been completed or are underway on highly regarded designs from various eras including the acclaimed “Golden Age of Golf Course Design.”
Hearn said he has enjoyed the privilege of working on three pre-1900 projects with a fourth — and possibly fifth assignment — coming soon, and that working on existing courses versus creating new ones is obviously entirely different but equally as exciting.
“Working on existing courses, especially historical classics, is more difficult in my opinion due in part to the time that must be dedicated to research right out of the gate, plus, many clubs have a resident golf course architect or 20 or so within the membership,” Hearn added with a laugh. “Respectfully, working on courses where Willie Park, Ross, Bendelow, Langford, Tweedie, and other legends graced the property and created years ago is an incredible privilege for which I am humbled.”
Hearn said he is often asked about the elements that have helped him in his architecture journey.
“I always respond in this order: My university degree in Landscape Architecture with my emphasis area in Golf Course Architecture and my degree in Turfgrass Science,” he said. “My overseas study and tours in Scotland, Ireland and England were also invaluable. Combining those things with years of experience has aided my career, and I’ve always held that, as with any profession, you must never stop learning.”
A partial list of Hearn’s diverse recent assignments include:
- Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, NJ
- Washtenaw Golf Club (1899) in Ypsilanti, MI
- River Bend Resort and Golf Club in Brownsville, TX
- White Lake Golf Club (1916) in Muskegon, MI
- Hilton Chicago Oak Brook Hills Resort, Oak Brook, IL
- Boyne Resort Courses in Harbor Springs, MI (Moor GC, Donald Ross Memorial, Highlands Par 3 Course)
- Midlothian Country Club (1898) in Midlothian, IL
- Schenectady Municipal Golf Course in Schenectady, NY
- Waters Edge Golf Club in Fremont, MI
- Westwood Golf Club in Woodbury, NJ
- Lincoln Golf Club (1927) in Muskegon, MI
- Yahara Hills Municipal Golf Course in Madison, WI
- Maple Lane Golf Club (1927) in Sterling Heights, MI
- La Rivera Golf Resort in the Dominican Republic
- Youngs Golf Course in Iron River, MI
- The Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth, MI
- Tuscania Golf Resort in El Salvador
Hearn’s work in the United States and around the world has helped him achieve many of his bucket list goals in the industry, but he mentioned he hasn’t worked everywhere just yet.
“There are a couple states I have not worked in such as Maine, Pennsylvania and North Carolina,” he noted. “I would like to work on a new or redesign in those three states someday.”
At 25, the company’s award-winning past has led to a busy present and a future that looks very promising. Hearn is as passionate as ever about his work and he said only a few who work in his profession ever consider retirement.
“Why would you when you get up each morning thinking about golf courses and golf course design? It is an honor and a privilege doing what I do every day. Plus, I must admit, it’s a lot of fun.”