Florida Golf Magazine Winter 2017© Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved

Golf Course Architect, Arthur Hills reading Florida Golf Magazine.

The Florida Golf Course Architecture of Arthur Hills

Hills & Forrest International Golf Course Architects
Home Office: 7351 West Bancroft Street,
Toledo, Ohio 43615, Phone: +1 (419) 841.8553
Fax: +1 (419) 841.9600,

Arthur Hills is known as one of the United States' most highly-regarded golf course architects. He has designed more Florida development courses than any other architect. Hills has designed 45 Florida courses in all, including six that are showcased within this issue of Florida Golf Magazine.

This issue showcases 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.

"People want to live where the weather is good, rather than where it's miserable in the winter," says Hills. "So people are going to continue to move to Sunbelt golf communities."


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

Golf 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.

Golf Course Architect, Steve Forrest, ASGCA

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 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 photographed at Saint Andrews

Past Architects and Contemporaries

Golf Course Architects · Alistair MacKenzie and Donald Ross at Claremont CC in California, USA (1933).

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.

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.

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.

Dick Wilson's courses are admirable. Designs by Robert Trent Jones Sr. are very traditional. He advanced the profession.

The living contemporary I most admire is Pete Dye. 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.”

Playing to an 18 handicap, the consumate 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!"

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