Gil Hanse Discussion!

I thought it may be an interesting idea to start separate threads for individual architects. I’ll start with Gil Hanse, who is certainly on a meteoric rise lately. His latest original offerings are getting a lot of buzz (Ohoopee, No. 4) and he’s arguably the best in the game at restoration (Sleepy Hollow, LACC, Merion, Aronimink, Southern Hills, Winged Foot, etc.)

Anyone have any thoughts or insights on his latest developments? What’s your favorite Hanse course? Will he ever get the keys to a Keiser project or are his wild greens at odds with Keiser’s preference for subtlety? How great is his restoration work?

I’ve only played streamsong black and loved everything about it



Agreed. I have a hard time ranking the courses at Streamsong because they are all superb. Some people I talk to didn’t love Black because of the wild greens but I love the chaos. If you go in trying to shoot a score it could be frustrating but I’m a match-play guy so I embrace it. How would you rank the Black compared to Red and Blue?

Haven’t played blue, but I would pick black over the red every time. It’s all about the chaos!

I enjoyed playing for a score at black. Just prepare for mega ejections

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I’m very sad to say that I’ve never played a Hanse course, he seems to work mostly on the eastern seaboard. Hopefully he gets a crack at Sand Valley, that might be the only place that’d get him to do a course in the Midwest.

Pinehurst and Streamsong need to be on the top of your list then!

They are, 2019 PTO days have all been used up though, maybe in 2020.

Is Pinehurst #4 a Hanse course though? I was under the impression it was a renovation?

Well I guess it’s both an original and a renovation. They essentially blew up the old Fazio course and started over so they consider it an original Hanse design.

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I really enjoyed Pinehurst #4 and I think every city large enough to warrant class D airspace deserves a short course like the Cradle.

I played Cobb’s Creek - Olde yesterday and I really want to try to do an event this summer when Gil is back in Phila. where we play the course and hear from him hole by hole the changes that he’s planned and the thoughts behind them.


Don’t sleep on his 9 holer at Sewanee. Absolutely wonderful course


I’ve played zero original Gil Hanse courses but I saw him at Dead & Company in Camden so he has my utmost respect

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The only original Gil Hanse course I’ve played to date is French Creek outside Philadelphia. I remember it being on some very good rolling terrain and the greens were excellent. The drawbacks, for me, were the distance between holes and that most of the tees are set in the wetlands, all of which makes it practically unwalkable.

I just remembered I also played Applebrook, also outside Philadelphia. It was walkable.

Sounds very unwoke, maybe this was before he started dropping acid at Dead shows.


Sewanee is absolutely sick. Great elevation change, a good mix of mega ejection and subtle greens, and some just unreal views.


I’ve played three Hanse courses, and I’d play all of them again.

Sewanee: Really good. Only (minor) complaint is that the two par 3s are pretty similar.
Castle Stuart: I liked it, but didn’t love it. Didn’t help that it was blowing 40 mph when I played it, so a lot of potentially cool shots turned into punching 4 irons down the fairway. Felt very modern on a trip that included all but two old links courses.
Crail Craighead: Overshadowed by it’s much older sibling. Do a 36 hole day there, and you’ll have a blast. Feels much older than Castle Stuart, and fits really well into the Crail property.

Rees Jones is known as the “Open Doctor” but Hanse is the current guy in that role. He did the work at Winged Foot prior to the 2020 Open, and has also done a significant amount of renovation work at The Country Club (2022 Open) and LA Country Club (2023 Open). The work at LACC was much more publicized than his work at TCC and Winged Foot.

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Applebrook… which is outside philly is my favorite hanse course…not a bad hole on the property

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I really love Gil’s work at creating exciting, impressive and memorable holes. He does a fantastic job of working you around interesting topography and showing off great natural land movement. I’ve played two of his originals and they have some of the downright coolest holes I’ve ever played. His routings are fantastic as well, he does a really great job of changing up the playing direction and using the elevation to make sure there are no two similar holes on the course.

However, I think his greens are over the top. The ideas are cool, I love the idea of “scrambling” for par if you’re in the wrong section of the green at SS Black. But some of the contours are unnatural and out of place. I love big, sweeping contours. I don’t love small, raised moguls in the center of the green. I would up chipping on multiple greens at the Black course because I would’ve never been able to 2-putt. If that’s what he was going for, great. It just struck me as odd.

It’s hard to judge him on his resto’s and reno’s because I’d never seen the courses before he got to them, but it looks like he’s one of the best in the business just based on the jobs he’s getting. I’d heard Doral was brutally tough and boring before he got there, I thought the course was fantastic.

I didn’t get to play Course 4, but I thought he did a fantastic job with the Cradle. I could play that course every day and never get tired of it.

By my count I’ve played 2 originals (and the Cradle!), 1 restoration and 2 renovations and I’ve loved all of them.