Dick Nugent

Golf Course architect Dick Nugent, whose design work included Lake Arrowhead GC near Wisconsin Rapids and Green Bay CC, died Jan. 1 in Chandler, Arizona. He was 86.

American Society of Golf Course Architects photo

Dick Nugent's impact on Wisconsin golf spanned far and wide.

The noted golf course architect had a hand in designing some of the state's classic courses (see North Shore CC in Mequon). He expanded and redesigned others (see Reedsburg CC and Majestic Oaks at Lake Lawn GR in Delavan).

He contributed several popular public courses (see Evergreen CC in Elkhorn, Rolling Meadows GC in Fond du Lac and Lake Arrowhead GC in Nekoosa). And one of his final contributions to Wisconsin's golf course landscape — Green Bay CC, which he designed with son Tim — also drew rave reviews.

One remembrance came this week from Golf Digest design editor Ron Whitten, who had a hand in the design of 2017 U.S. Open venue Erin Hills near Hartford. It came as word of Nugent's death at age 86 in Chandler, Arizona, was posted to the American Society of Golf Course Architects Website.

"My personal favorite Dick Nugent design is Green Bay CC, built from heavily-wooded kettle moraine topography (not unlike the land on which Erin Hills would later be built), with a long, serpentine stream running through it north to south, which is incorporated half a dozen times during the round," Whitten wrote on the Golf Digest Website. " I especially loved the greens at Green Bay, one a long hourglass, another a wide peanut, still another twisting and turning along a pond. ... One critic of Green Bay CC has seized upon all its Humpty Dumpty mounds that surround several greens, but to me, they're simply smaller imitations of the broader kettle moraine topography found on that site. It was another of Dick Nugent's experiments, perhaps an under-appreciated one these days, but a lasting one."

In the obituary on the ASGCA Website, Nugent was praised for his famous design works, as well as his service to ASGCA and the game of golf.

Nugent received his degree in landscape architecture from the University of Illinois in 1958, where he was also a member of the football team. After graduation, he worked six years with ASGCA founding member Robert Bruce Harris before he and Ken Killian left Harris in 1964 to set up their own golf course architecture partnership.

The firm of Killian and Nugent developed strong relationships with many superintendents in the Chicago area. Along with original designs, they stressed the importance of master planning, leading to a number of multi-year remodeling projects.

Nugent and Killian gained considerable attention for their work at Kemper Lakes GC near Chicago, which played host to the Kemper Open and the 1989 PGA Championship. During their time together, they nurtured the careers of many talented associates, including Jeff Brauer, Bruce Borland, Bob Lohmann and Nugent's son Tim.

While various Websites credit Nugent for a design role in more than a dozen Wisconsin courses, these are the ones who name him as part of the original design team or renovation/expansion work according to the Wisconsin State Golf Association Website.

 CourseCityDesign/Renovations
 Abbey Springs Fontana Ken Killian/Dick Nugent
 Blackstone Creek Germantown Dick Nugent/Lloyd Robinson
 Evergreen CC Elkhorn Dick Nugent/Gary Welsh
 Green Bay CC Green Bay Dick Nugent/Tim Nugent
 Hartford GC Hartford Ken Killian/Dick Nugent
 Lake Arrowhead GC Nekoosa Ken Killian/Dick Nugent
 Majestic Oaks at Lake Lawn Resort Delavan Tom Bendelow/Dick Nugent
 North Shore CC Mequon David Gill/Dick Nugent
 Reedsburg CC Reedsburg Ken Killian/Dick Nugent
 Rolling Meadows GC Fond du Lac Dick Nugent & Associates