Luckily, the young artist loved golf.
In 1973, a talented
Michael Strantz enrolled in the Miami University (OH)
studio art program, but the game of golf had other plans
for him. Five years later, he graduated from the
Michigan State Turf Grass Management School, with
aspirations of becoming a golf course superintendent.
Then the Inverness Club called. The Toledo, Ohio club
was preparing for the 1979 U.S. Open. Strantz, a former
Inverness turf grass intern, was needed to help the Tom
Fazio crew remodel some classic golf holes for the U.S.
It did not take long
for the Tom Fazio team to realize that a hard-working,
perceptive, perfectionist name Mike Strantz was someone
they needed in their growing golf course design
business. Two days after Hale Irwin won the U.S. Open,
Mike Strantz was on a plane to Hilton Headís Devilís
Elbow North, a new Fazio course under construction.
Under the tutelage of Tom Fazio, Mike Strantz helped
create many famous Fazio courses: Wild Dunes, Wachesaw,
Golden Eagle, Wade Hampton, Osprey Point, Lake Nona,
Black Diamond. But after eight successful years on the
Fazio team, two small daughters, and six days a week of
travel, Mike stepped away from the competitive golf
course construction business and picked up a brush and
palette again and settled in Charleston, South
yet, the golf industry kept knocking. The most critical
call came after Hurricane Hugo leveled the Isle of Palms
and Wild Dunesí Ocean Course in South Carolina. Strantz
helped load huge equipment on barges and then, for six
months, single-handedly, shaped most of the
reconstruction and remodeling work at Wild Dunes, with
the blessings of Tom Fazio.
Larry Young called next. The Myrtle Beach entrepreneur
and golf course developer was not happy with the bunkers
on his new Legends course, could Mike Strantz take a
look at them? Strantz hesitated, but climbed in the
family station wagon, and drove to Myrtle Beach, only to
realize he could not ignore his desire to create
something beautiful and majestic out of an ordinary
swatch of land.
the end, Strantz, Larry Young, and son Danny Young
created a strong team that launched Michael Strantz as a
golf course designer in his own right. Their first
project created history: a charming Carolina course,
complete with pristine natural vistas and Spanish moss
hanging from the live oaks. Caledonia Golf and Fish
Club, Pawleys Island, South Carolina opened in 1994 and
is still one of the golf industryís top courses.
Then came Strantzís elegant Stonehouse in Virginia,
ranked the number one new golf course by GOLF
DIGEST in 1996, followed by the highlands of Royal New
Kent in Virginia also ranked number one new
upscale golf course in 1997. Mike Strantz was on his
way to becoming a legend himself. No golf course
designer had ever had two courses selected for the
number one GOLF DIGEST position two years in a row.
Next came Strantzís wild True Blue Golf Club, Pawleys
Island, SC (1998) and visually striking Tobacco Road
(1999), Sanford, NC. Both courses were ranked in the
top five GOLF DIGEST new golf course picks. But the
greatest honor came when GOLF WORLD looked at the young
designerís incredible work and named him the number
one golf course designer. GOLF DIGEST followed
suit, listing the top ten greatest designers of
all time. Mike Strantz was on this short list, along
with Alister Mackenzie, A.W. Tillinghast, Pete Dye, and
In the year 2000,
Strantz finished the hillside-sculpted Tot Hill Farm
Golf Club in Asheboro, NC. The course featured striking
red-clay hazards carved out of the hills, setting off
the brilliant greens. Then, work began on the
breath-taking Bulls Bay Golf Club (2001) on the
Intracoastal Waterway in Awendaw, SC, near Charleston.
Strantz used the wide expanse of property to recreate
the bold, open curves of Scotland, but he also tapped
into the feel of the Charleston Lowcountry with holes
set amid live oaks and Spanish moss. Winds off the
ocean made it a unique golf setting.
Soon Strantz was tapped
to re-design a private course in San Jose, CA (2002).
Silver Creek Valley Country Club soon featured Mike
Strantzís striking bunkers, along with a strong layout
that the members were proud to call their own.
After a lengthy search
for the right golf course designer, the members at
Monterey Peninsula Club chose Mike Strantz to re-design
the Shore Course in Pebble Beach, CA (2004). The
brilliant reworking of the course layout captured the
rough beauty of ocean, rock, and vista on every hole and
has astounded members and golf designers alike. Mikeís
final work is one of the most exciting and beautiful
golf courses on the west coast.
Luckily, the artist