Making a name for yourself in the Course Architecture is often about spending extensive apprentice time with crack designers who have made names for themselves before you. Kyle Franz has taken this route and is well on his way to the top of the “next best” category of designers under 40.
Franz found his first job with Tom Doak when he begged him for a position at age 19 on the team doing Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes. He went on to work with Doak at Barnbougle Dunes in Tasmania, Coore and Crenshaw in their restoration of Pinehurst #2, Kyle Phillips at the Cal Club, and, most recently, with Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner on the Olympic Course in Rio.
As you can read in this fascinating interview with GolfClubAtlas, Franz brought to these experiences an exuberance of youth, an adhesive mind, and a creative imagination. Being around these designers he soaked in their appreciation of the work of admired designers from the Golden Age of Design like Ross, Raynor, MacDonald, Tillinghast, Mackenzie, and others. He also made sure to do the extra curricular study time of these great designers and their work that related to the projects he was working on.
Greenside bunkering on the majestic #5 at Mid Pines is devilish
His big break came while working on the Pinehurst #2 restoration when he had a chance meeting at a cocktail party with Kelly Miller the president of the Pine Needles and Mid Pines Resort in Pinehurst. The owners of this storied old place were contemplating a restoration of their vintage Donald Ross course and what they saw the Coore and Crenshaw team do at #2 was in the front of their mind.
Franz had done extensive research of Ross’s work at Mid Pines at the Tufts Archives while working on the Pinehurst #2 project so he brought an impressive understanding of the original Ross design and had a plan in his head on how to restore it to the original Ross ideals.
Taking a flyer on a young mind with big dreams they hired Franz to do the restoration of Mid Pines and what resulted was a win-win situation for both of them. Franz delivered a fabulous return of Mid Pines to it’s full glory.
His work at Mid Pines is a pure Donald Ross Pinehurst restoration
As you can read in the interview his thought processes during this renovation were ambitious and creative. His use of materials and resources already on the grounds allowed him to complete all the work for under $1 million dollars to the owner’s delight.
The most interesting part of the conversation are his revelations of the work he did with Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner in creating the course in Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Still fresh in our minds from the Olympic competitions this summer, Franz gives real insight into what they had in mind and what they accomplished with this new offering. His references to holes at North Berwick, The Old Course, and Royal Melbourne indicate the source of many design concepts were from the classic links and sand belt courses of the British Isles and Australia.
Franz has since brought his talents to bear on a number of other prestigious re-do’s of classic courses that have come his way. Working on restorations of places like Pine Needles for Miller, Seth Raynor’s Country Club of Charleston, and, maybe the most intriguing of them all, a restoration of the old Wood’s Hole Golf Course in Cape Code, he has fast established himself for the right opportunity to build his first Franz creation from scratch.
After reading this interview I think you will come to the same conclusion.