This issue of Florida Golf Magazine showcases the golf course architecture of Arthur Hills at Miami Beach Golf Club and Normandy Shores, both in Miami Beach, Vista Plantation Golf Club in Vero Beach, Jonathan's Landing Golf Club in Jupiter, Collier's Reserve Country Club in Naples, and Heron Creek Golf & Country Club in North port, Florida.

Arthur Hills' Spartan (Michigan State 1950) Golf Team - Young Arthur Hills is on the far right.
Arthur Hills

Golf Course Architect, Arthur Hills, ASGCA

Arthur Wright Hills was born in 1930 in Toledo, Ohio. He still has his office in Toledo, but he has homes in both Ohio and Florida.

As a youngster, Hills worked on the maintenance crew at Barton Hills Country Club in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which he describes as "a wonderful old Donald Ross course." He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State, and then a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan.

After a few years as a landscape contractor, he began his practice as a golf course architect in 1966. Brandywine Country Club, which opened in 1967 in the Toledo suburb of Maumee, is listed as his first course.

Hills was president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1992. His associate, Steve Forrest, who has worked with Hills for nearly 40 years, became a partner in 1990 and was added to the company name in 1999.

Steve Forrest

Golf Course Architect, Steve Forrest, ASGCA

“Steve Forrest has been working with me since the late 70s,” said Arthur Hills. “He was number-one in his college class at Virginia Tech. It’s nice to have somebody with intellect in the firm since I graduated last in my class. But I did graduate! Having Steve made for some balance. He’s well-organized, creative, and very well spoken. Most importantly, he’s an outstanding architect. And he’s put up with me for all these years. For putting up with me, and for all the things that he has contributed to the business, I decided it was time that his name be associated with the firm. It’s now called Hills & Forrest—International Golf Course Architects.”
“Our careful and thoughtful work has shown that the firm is more than qualified and capable to perform delicate surgery on the golf courses considered to be national treasures.
We’ve completed more than 120 golf course renovations projects around the world and, in fact, our firm has been entrusted to restore or renovate 19 Donald Ross courses. We have also lengthened, touched up, and prepared many recent major championship courses.”

Arthur Hills at St. Andrews
Arthur Hills photographed at Saint Andrews

Past Architects and Contemporaries

When asked about his opinion of past golf course architects and contemporaries, Arthur Hills says, “The designs of Donald Ross are very playable and attractive golf courses that are good strategically. However, because of their subtleties, and their focus on strategy, I wonder if, as a new course today, they would get the notice they deserve decade after decade. Pinehurst No. 2 is unquestionably great —straightforward, no bells and whistles, a series of great holes."

Alister Mackenzie & Donald Ross

Alister Mackenzie & Donald Ross

Art continued by saying, "The designs of Alister Mackenzie are beautiful, dramatic, and interesting. Every course I've ever seen that was designed by Seth Raynor, I admire to the utmost. I'm told Raynor only played golf once or twice in his life. Camargo Golf Club and Chicago Golf Club alone established his credentials."

Seth Raynor

Seth Raynor

"Raynor and Ross both built some of the same holes more than once on their various courses. There are par-3's at Ross' Essex Country Club (Windsor, Ontario) and Scioto Country Club (Columbus, Ohio) that are similar."

Collier’s Reserve Country Club

Dick Wilson

"Dick Wilson's courses are admirable," said Arthur, and so is the work of Robert Trent Jones Senior."

Normandy Shores Golf Club In Miami Beach

Robert Trent Jones Sr.

"Designs by Robert Trent Jones Sr. are very traditional," said Art. "He advanced the profession."

Living Contemporaries

"The living contemporary I most admire is Pete Dye," said Arthur. "I think his work is dramatically imaginative and very strategic. I run into Pete and some of the other designers from time to time. It seems that we tend to play it close to the vest when our paths cross. We don't talk about our projects much. We talk about our families."

Arthur Hills' Swing Arthur Hills' Swing Arthur Hills' Swing Arthur Hills' Swing

Playing to an 18 handicap, the consummate golfer, 86 year-old Arthur Hills plays golf several times a week.Arthur Hills On Golf

“I enjoy playing our own courses,” says Mr. Hills, “except that I see their shortcomings more than anyone. As we gained experience, the green complexes done later in our career are more sophisticated, varied, and subtle.

Now, at age 86, I play to an 18 handicap. The best score I ever had was a 68, which I shot on four separate occasions. I shot it once at Barton Hills near Ann Arbor, Michigan; once at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio; and twice in Germany when I was in the Army.

I can't come close to shooting a score like that now. Like my friends say, 'I know I can play better - I just never do!'" - Arthur Hills 2017