Golf Course Architect Ted Robinson Dies at 84

Another master from the prolific ere of golf architecture has been lost. Word came to me Friday night about the passing of Ted Robinson. I have enjoyed many Robinson courses through the years and even though he did not receive the acclaim that many other architects did, he did not less fine of a job with the venues he crafted. Thanks to Mary Beth Lacy of Mary Beth Lacy, Inc for this fine tribute.

Theodore (Ted) G. Robinson, a Past President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, died Sunday March 2, 2008 at his home in Laguna Beach, California after a 10 month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84.

With an architectural career spanning over five decades, Robinson is credited with over 160 projects that bear his influence, including courses in the Western United States, Hawaii, Mexico, Japan, Korea and Indonesia. In 1954, Robinson established his own practice concentrated in golf course design, land planning, subdivision and park design. Robinson spent the majority of his career working independently while wife Bobbi managed the office until 1991 when son, Ted Jr., joined the practice.

Dubbed the “King of Waterscapes,” Robinson endorsed the use of water as a defining hazard for course designs. He believed waterscapes gave putting greens maximum character and provided players with an appealing challenge. Robinson was also widely recognized for his golf-oriented master planned community, Mesa Verde, in Costa Mesa as well as 26 separate golf course architecture projects in the Palm Springs/Palm Desert area alone, including Sunrise, Monterey, Palm Valley, The Lakes, Indian Wells, Ironwood, Tahquitz Creek and Desert Springs.

“He believed pretty strongly in the average golfer,” said his son, Ted Robinson Jr. “What he believed in was to build golf courses that were inherently challenging but fun to play. His hallmark was they were fun. You didn’t feel like you were beat up.”

As Robinson’s career blossomed, Golf Digest listed his courses among the top five in Washington, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Hawaii. One of Robinson’s most beloved projects was Sahalee Country Club, long regarded as one of the top 100 courses in the world. Located in Redmond, Wash., Sahalee Country Club hosted the PGA TOUR Championship in 1998. Other notable courses include Tijeras Creek and Tustin Ranch in Orange County, (California), the Experience in Koele on the island of Lanai (Hawaii) and Robinson Ranch in Santa Clarita (California), a project designed and developed jointly with his son and named in his honor. Some of Robinson’s most prestigious international courses include Lakewood Golf Club in Japan and Pinx Golf Club in Korea.

“ASGCA is saddened by Ted’s passing,” said ASGCA President Steve Forrest. “His work over the past 50 years represents some of the best in the industry and he was a true pioneer in golf course architecture. His integrated design concepts set the standard for many of today’s architects. As both a colleague and a friend, he will be missed.”

Ted Robinson Jr. will continue as Chief Operating Officer of RGI, Robinson Golf Inc. RGI is a two generational company that has been in business for almost fifty years in seven countries with more than 150 projects. Ted Robinson Jr. will continue to design golf courses in the RGI tradition with updated themes and technologies with a design philosophy centering on flexibility, memorability and natural beauty.

Robinson was born on May 17, 1923 in Long Beach, California. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley and earned his Master’s degree in Planning from the University of Southern California in 1948.

Ted Robinson is survived by his wife Bobbi, son Ted Jr., daughters Kristine Monroe and Leigha Robertson and his ten grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. at Desert Horizons Country Club in Indian Wells, California on March 13. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to the Ted Robinson Cancer research Fund, USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, RM 8302 MC 9181, University of Southern California, PO Box 77902, Los Angeles, CA 90099-5334.