Raynor Quest - One Man's Journey

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I need your help. I became addicted to golf later in life; not until I turned 31 years old did I truly began to play in earnest. Up until that point I believe the number of rounds played in my life sat in the single digits. Ever since I decided to make this my hobby I’ve spent countless hours hacking away on the course. It has quickly moved from a hobby to the thing I am most passionate about outside of the big F’s (family/faith/friends).

I began to think yesterday on my 38th birthday about a long term golf goal. I’ve come to accept the fact I’ll never be a low digit handicap, hell even a high digit handicap feels light years away. What I do love is seeing new courses for the first time and reveling in all the little details. I’ve been fortunate in the last 2-3 years to begin playing courses which make me feel it deep down in my plums. Quickly becoming my favorite type of architecture, beginning in May of last year, were the Seth Raynor designs.

Now I know some of you on here are aware of my affinity for Raynors. I love everything about them…the template holes, rectangular bunkers, tee lengths that make playing the correct shots crucial, and especially how his courses were built for walking. A warm summer afternoon strolling a Raynor course is about as spiritual an experience as I can have while enjoying this game we all love.

So why am I telling you all this? Because I am embarking on a quest that, in the best of scenarios, will take multiple years to complete. There’s also a high likelihood that I may never have the chance to complete my mission, given the fact that nearly every single design I’m speaking of is a private club (some completely out of reach for all but a select few). This is my long term goal:

I want to play every original solo Raynor design or renovation still standing in these United States.

This is not a top 100 trek around the world (@Edge62 already has that covered for us). Will it take me 5 years to complete? 15? 30? Who knows, but I sure as hell want to try. And I want as much of this to happen as organically as possible. Meeting people throughout my travels, bonding with fellow golf nuts, maybe attending a Fried Egg event in 2025…the journey is 80% of the fun!

To track progress, I’ve charted the courses on Google Maps that seem to fall within this bucket. I have also gotten a small start by playing all three of his courses in the Twin Cities area last fall, so I’m not starting from scratch. The courses I’ve played are marked in blue, while unplayed courses have a yellow marker. There is a LOT of yellow on this map :slight_smile:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?hl=en&mid=1ttz7C7bv3okli1_2JBoywbkJNgJulTG2&ll=34.60282856380531%2C-123.26137102992084&z=4

What I need from the Refuge is feedback…are there any courses that I’ve left off? Knowing that some tracks are still debated as to whether they’re true Raynors, I’m erring on the side of caution and including any on the fence. Are there courses on the map that we know are not Raynors and should be removed?

Any edits from fellow Raynor aficionados would be greatly appreciated! I’m especially looking in your direction @ThePowerFade @HibernatingBear @arydolphin

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Reach out to Anthony Pioppi on Twitter, he runs the Raynor society, which you should probably join.

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Love this and feel I’m in similar shoes with doing the biggest deep dive of Raynor and Ross.

Echoing what @nandersen said The Fried Egg has a great podcast with Anthony Pioppi about Raynor as well.

Don’t forget to consult the man most obsessed here of all of us, @RaynorMan

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Two potential issues:

  1. I don’t have a Twitter account and have refused to get one thus far
  2. Could have sworn you have to be a member at a Raynor course to join the Raynor society?
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I welcome all feedback, but figured ZB would be busy digging out tree stumps!

Depends on the point of your “quest” but there is basically no Rayor left at MPCC Dunes after 2 full renovations (one Rees Jones, one Fazio/Jackson-Kahn). On the other hand, Mid Ocean Club, which Raynor built for CBM is very much on point.

  1. I’m sure he has an email address
  2. They have a website and I’m pretty sure that’s not the case but you can definitely double check

edit: specifically says you do not have to be a member

edit 2: his email is on said website

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TalkinGolf History podcast has a 2 parter on Raynor with Pioppi as well

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Point of this quest, at least in my head, is to play his original designs or renovations. I purposely left out courses he built on behalf of/or partnered with CBM on, like Mid-Ocean or NGLA. Dunes was one that I struggled on whether to include, knowing its been changed substantially over the years. I would mark that one as lower priority compared to others…

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You are only looking for pure Raynor? I think Pioppi said that list is only ~32 courses (on the abovementioned TalkInGolf pod).

ex: Lookout Mountain is not on that list (since he died, someone else built it, and Silva did original work to “restore” it that was never there).

In my mind pure Raynor but I know that can be tough. I would include courses he designed but had to be completed by others due to his death.

From the website: “The organization is open to those who play or work at courses designed or renovated by Seth Raynor, Charles Blair Macdonald or Charles Banks, or who are in the golf business. In some cases, the Society will allow those who do not meet that criteria to join.”

That’s why I assumed it wasn’t open to others…didn’t remember the second sentence that there are exceptions.

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I mean, go for it. Write a nice email to Anthony, why not?

I think you found the wrong page, though.

https://sethraynorsociety.us/join

Yeah, I’ll send him a note and see if that goes anywhere. No one has feedback yet for any of the entries besides MPCC Dunes?

And yes @nandersen…looks like I found the companion page to nandythoughts.com

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Good luck on this, btw, I’m on a similar journey myself.

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Raynor take: You’ve played one, you’ve played them all. Lolz.

@BaxterMSP between Minn Valley & Somerset, which did you prefer?

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I get why you may feel that way, with the use of templates. While the holes may feel familiar, I love to see how they play on the different plots of land.

I actually preferred MN Valley. The restoration they did 4-5 years ago has that place looking so good.

Somerset was great as well, but I may have built it up too much in my own mind. Just drove by there Wednesday night and its looking amazing. Think I need another crack at it to lock down this opinion.

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In my view, Raynor is one of the hardest of the “big” name architects to do this sort of thing with, because he did a lot of nips and tucks on courses that now try to claim him as the architect of record. I’d put Dedham Polo in this category. He did some work on a couple of holes, built a couple of new holes. The club identified as a Donald Ross design until ~10 years ago, when they concluded that Raynor was part of their history and more woke.

Don’t get me wrong, the work that Brian Silva did to Raynor-ize the course is amazing. But I wouldn’t put it in the category of Raynor original works.

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One other point @Lazstradamus…Somerset had the best point on any Raynor property. Standing in the Northeast corner, ready to tee off on #6 with a view of both downtowns is :chefs kiss:

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Knowing it’s not cut and dry is part of the fun in this! I can be convinced one way or another on some of these courses, but learning the history (especially changes after Raynor’s death) fascinates me to no end.