Luckily, the young artist loved golf.
In 1973, a talented Michael Strantz enrolled in the
Miami (Ohio) University studio art program, but the
game of golf had other plans for him. Five years
later, he had graduated from the Michigan State Turf
Grass Management School, with aspirations of being a
golf course superintendent, and then the Inverness
Club called. The Toledo, Ohio club was preparing for
the 1978 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. Open.
It did not take
long for the Tom Fazio team to realize that a
hard-working, visually 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 Strantz stepped away from
the competitive golf course construction business and
picked up a brush and palette again and settled in
Charleston, South Carolina.
And 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
talent or desire to create something beautiful and
majestic out of an ordinary swatch of land.
In 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 Tom Fazio.
Three years ago, Strantz finished the
hillside-sculpted Tot Hill Farm Golf Club (2000) in
Asheboro, NC. The course features striking red-clay
hazards carved out of the hills, setting off the
brilliant greens. Then, last year work completed on
the breath-taking Bulls Bay Golf Club (2002) on the
Intracoastal Waterway in Awendaw, SC. Bulls Bay bends
and sweeps like the bold open curves of Scotland. The
vistas will stop a golferís heart in his throat and
the winds carrying the ocean air over the marshes will
bring him back over and over. Bulls Bay sets a
golf-standard for the Charleston, SC area and is
destined for critical acclaim.
Strantz has re-designed a private course in San Jose,
CA (2002). Silver Creek Valley Country Club features
Strantzís striking bunkers, along with a strong layout
that the members are enjoying immensely. Upcoming,
Mike Strantz has been given the honor to re-design the
Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Club in Monterey,
CA (2003). His sketches promise one of the most
exciting and beautiful golf courses on the coast. And
after the Strantz magic paintbrush is finished, the
Shore Course will be ready to compete with Cypress
Point and Pebble Beach.
But in the end,
Mike Strantz still does one project at a time.
Luckily, the artist loves golf.