After a search and selection process that lasted over four months and included, among others, Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Bob Cupp and Arthur Hills, Dr. Michael Hurdzan of the Hurdzan Design Group of Columbus, Ohio was chosen.
On 412 spectacular acres that included upland meadows, a meandering creek, two ponds and mature woodlands, Dr. Hurdzan and project architect Craig Schreiner would route a golf course layout that would receive local acclaim and national recognition before it was even three years old.
"Cobblestone Creek excels in all the areas that make a good golf course a great golf course," says Hurdzan, "quality of design and construction (meaning playability), maintenance and tradition."
Consider the first and second criteria. "The folks behind Cobblestone Creek put high-quality golf course design, construction, and maintenance first and foremost, no matter what. In every aspect of its development, they went for the best quality possible. They secured flawless land and hired an excellent land planner, a world class golf course contractor, Wadsworth, an extremely talented superintendent, Rusty Madden, and now the course is maintained by a top notch crew. Everyone involved set out to do a first-rate project from day one. They haven't wavered from their vision. Lots of people talk about it. Few do it. The folks at Cobblestone Creek are doing it."
The third criteria, tradition, will evolve over time. Cobblestone Creek is already on its way. In 1992, Golf Digest ranked Cobblestone Creek the 10th best new course in the country and, in 1993, the same publication named Cobblestone Creek the 12th best course in New York State.
A year later, Cobblestone Creek played host to one of the oldest and most prestigious regional events, the 72nd New York State Men's Amateur Golf Championship. It was the first time the course had been formally challenged. Cobblestone Creek earned its tradition as a venue that forced the tournament participants to think their way around the golf course. "You've got to plan your strategy and you'll always be challenged because there are so many nuances to be discovered," says Hurdzan.
Hurdzan grew up in the golf business: his father was a teaching pro at a course in Columbus, Ohio owned by architect Jack Kidwell. By the time he was 13, Hurdzan was already working for and learning from Kidwell, helping maintain the local course. And once he caught the bug, Hurdzan became so enamored with golf course design, he went to school for it ... three times!
Hurdzan earned a Bachelor's degree in Turfgrass Management and Landscape Architecture, a Master's degree in Turfgrass Physiology, and a Doctorate in Environmental Plant Physiology Studies.
His list of accomplishments includes Devil's Pulpit Golf Club in Ontario, Canada (ranked #1 in the country), Naples National in Florida, and Willow Bend on Cape Cod.
Craig Schreiner was the project architect for the Hurdzan Design Group at Cobblestone Creek. The people at Cobblestone Creek were so impressed by Schreiner's talent, involvement and enthusiasm that his name is listed, along with Hurdzan's, on the Club's scorecard as project architect. Craig holds an Associate degree in Applied Science in Turfgrass Management from Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Oregon State University. After Cobblestone Creek, Craig went out on his own to form his own company. He has recently completed work on Lebanon Links in Ohio and American Paradise in China. Additionally, he supervised all the course changes and additions prior to the 1995 Ryder Cup matches at Oak Hill.
In critiquing his own work here, Schreiner makes these comments: "Cobblestone Creek is maturing extremely well, not so much in terms of grass, but the condition of the course is great. I am speaking in terms of how the folks at Cobblestone are learning to set up the course. This course has a myriad of options, with five sets of tee boxes on all the par fours and par fives, it presents many opportunities for pin placements. The land topography is exceptional, so we were able to utilize uphill and downhill, as well as left and right sloping features . Like most links-style courses, the wind comes into play; some holes play cross wind, into the wind, and downwind. This of course, changes every day."
There has been some criticism that the greens at Cobblestone Creek are severe. "Well, Cobblestone's greens offer literally hundreds of pin placements that all correlate to where the golfer puts his ball on the fairway for the approach. This supports the strength of the overall design producing some very memorable shot values. Half the strokes in golf are made on the putting green, if they are small and uninteresting, 'big deal'. Each and every green here has at least three major pin placements and that has everything to do with how hard you attack it. The greens at Cobblestone Creek are usually one of the things that stick in people's minds after playing here. This major element of the overall design will become part of the character of the course over time. Even the best golfers will have to decide if and when they will attack a hole.
"Again, it's another level of refinement that will come over time. Perhaps the majority of people who play Cobblestone Creek have only been exposed to more simplistic golf courses with simple saucer-shaped greens. They may never have had the opportunity to play golf in Scotland, or at St. Andrews, or to experience Donald Ross greens, MacKenzie greens or Tillinghast greens, which all have undulations and a lot of movement. Remember, at the heart of every golf course are the greens."