Staples Golf Design Quarterly

Staples Golf Turns 20!!

This holiday season came with another reason to celebrate... the 20th year of Staples Golf Design!! It's been an incredible journey with so many great memories, and this issue of the SGDQ will take you through the most memorable milestones.

Staples Golf Fan,

Seasons Greetings!!

An incredible thing recently occurred to me... it was 20 years ago this month I started out on my own! (December 17th, to be exact) Wow!! It’s still hard for me to believe. 

Going through the memories has certainly been nostalgic – the journey has had its ups and downs, but taking it all in has me even more excited for the next chapter.  As I paused for a minute to consider all that has happened, I thought it’d be fun to take you all on a trip through time, reflecting upon the entire experience. 

So, let’s begin where it all started…

2003 - The Golf Resource Group (GRG) is formed!

Many of you might not know, but I originally started out with two partners – Mike Hansen and Alex Walton – on an annual maintenance contract for Thanksgiving Point G.C. in Utah.  Shortly after, in 2004, we developed the nation’s first golf-specific water and energy efficiency program, carving our niche as one of the earliest leaders in sustainable golf practices.  (2004 - also the year I got married!!)

2005 - The Big One!... Sand Hollow

GRG was officially hired at Sand Hollow in 2005 by Dave Wilkey (Thanks Dave!) to design and build 27 holes in the sand dunes, set on top of incredible sandstone      cliffs.  Our first major project on our own! It was incredible working in pure sand, and being on site every day during construction.


Championship Course #13 at its opening... click the image to the latest incredible video from Brian Oar!

 2009 - Sustainability in the Great Recession

Just after the opening of Sand Hollow, the economy crashed – Ouch! I went from being busier than ever to ZERO projects in a blink of an eye. During this time, I focused almost entirely on sustainability projects, conducting water, energy, and turf reduction programs in AZ, CA, NV, and CO. Funnily enough, in the middle of this work, I had a (very) brief stint in China… boy do I have stories!  Also, I was fortunate to complete my first official Master Plan at Fayetteville CC (my longest running client, btw!).

2011 - A Big Break with Community Links

I remember well the huge moment when our team won the job at Los Alamos GC, which really felt like the next major step in my career.  It was at Los Alamos that I began my Community Links™ initiative – a program designed to promote the value of public golf.  This then led to all the amazing work at Rockwind Community Links in 2014, to this day one of my proudest projects!

And for those counting, 2014 was also the year we launched the Staples Golf Design Quarterly – now on #30!


Aerial photo of the newly renovated Rockwind Community Links (2015)


2015 - Meadowbrook CC... the one that put me on the map!

When I think about the work we did at Meadowbrook, I consider this project as the coming together of everything I practice to this day.  Most notably, I come back to the importance of building trust in the design process, communicating with the client, and having the confidence to take a few risks. I’ve made so many good friends at MCC, and I love going back and playing the course with them as often as possible!


#3 green at Meadowbrook CC (photo credit: The Fried Egg)


2019 - A Top 100 Client - Olympia Fields

What a game changer! I like the Gary Player quote: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” This feels appropriate to me – the hard work seems to be paying off. Every time I step on that property, I’m reminded of just how fortunate I am to be working with such a celebrated Club.


The newly renovated 18th on the South Course at OFCC


2020 - The COVID Rocket

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the influx of work that has come our way since the golf boom started during COVID. As the demand increased and our collective reputation grew, so too did the prospects, leading to more great projects – San Vicente, PGA National, Terrace Park, Mount Bruno and Weston in Canada, Mesa CC, Phoenix CC, and Arizona CC in my home State. It’s incredible! Here’s to the golf biz continuing to thrive!!


Aerial view of the Sand Belt bunkering on #1 at San Vicente


2023 - The Path Forward

When I consider this past year, I can’t help but be incredibly thankful for the experiences I’ve gained, and continue to appreciate how there is so much more to learn. Mesa CC goes under construction in February, Mira Vista CC in Fort Worth begins their major renovation in October, and then we’ll roll into the refresh work Arcola CC soon after. We’re fortunate to be able to plan for the future, which is an incredible thing for a golf course architect.

What I Think I Know...

It’s crazy how much the industry has changed since I started out, and I thought it’d be fun to share a few trends I feel will be driving my design practice here in the years to come.

  • It costs WAAAYY more now to build golf than it did back then: Sand Hollow built 27 brand-new holes for less than $20M in 2006 – now, I’m approaching an           18-hole renovation with the same price tag.
  • Technology is going to be a major force in our business, perhaps even designing on a computer without even seeing a site.
  • In 2003, most clubs couldn’t even locate their water and energy bills – now, sustainability is common practice.
  • Club and ball distance will continue to be a major conversation going forward, especially now, after the recent announcement of the 5% rollback.  It’s a start, and I’m hopeful there will be something done with the size of the driver.
  • Teeing it forward, and well-recognized courses that aren’t 7,000+ yards, will be normal and commonplace in a few years.


Our latest flythrough rendering for Hole #16 at Arcola CC (click image to view)


The Staples Golf  "Front 9"

I don’t typically like to single out one hole I’ve done over another (the experience of the entire course matters much more, IMO), but since we’re getting nostalgic here, I figured I’d share my list of the 9 favorite holes I’ve designed thus far.  If you haven’t seen them yet be sure to check them out… maybe we’ll get the “Back 9” after the next 20 years!

  • Hole 1:  #9 at Meadowbrook – a sporty drive and pitch par 4            
  • Hole 2:  #3 at Meadowbrook – the green was inspired by Willie Park Jr’s #4 at Huntercombe in London
  • Hole 3:  #15 at Sand Hollow – a dramatic par 3 across a huge gorge, overlooking the Virgin River Gorge
  • Hole 4:  #13 at Sand Hollow – a short-to-mid length par 4 set along a dramatic red rock ledge
  • Hole 5:  (New) #5 at Olympia Fields South – a par 3 inspired by a hole on the old course #3 property that no longer exists     
  • Hole 6:  #12 at The Match – a drive-and-pitch par 4 based on the Sahara template created from an unused piece of land on the property
  • Hole 7:  #13 at Rockwind – a wide, angled par 4 inspired by Langford & Morreau
  • Hole 8:  #2 at San Vicente – a par 3 with a small green, and dramatic, Sand Belt-styled bunkering surrounding the green
  • Hole 9:  #13 at Terrace Park – a reachable par 5, that plays to the convergence of two rivers to a small, heavily guarded green

I remember a moment in one of my first meetings of the ASGCA, where fellow golf architect Bob Cupp took over as president of the Society.  In his acceptance speech, he gave the following charge to the group: “Do good work!!” I continue to keep this is mind during each project we perform. Thanks Bob!

I am truly thankful and appreciative for all of you who have been a part of this journey with me. I wouldn’t have achieved half of what I have today without your trust, support, and encouragement along the way.  As we set our eyes towards a new year, be sure take time to reflect upon the experiences that have brought you to this point, and be thankful for the great people and memories along the way.  Here’s to the next 20 years!!


Andy Staples, ASGCA

Andy Staples

Andy Staples, ASCGA member and principal of Staples Golf Design, was brought to golf at the age of seven by his dad, having learned the game at West Bend Country Club, in West Bend, WI, a turn of the century course designed by Langford & Moreau.

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