Barry Jordan is an authentic grassroots architect, fluent in all aspects of golf course architecture, with additional expertise in environmental design, land planning, and construction management. Since establishing
Between Ross & Raynor - Literally...
Barry grew up in Groton, Connecticut a coastal town located on Fishers Island Sound. His home was located a mere two blocks from the Donald Ross designed Shennecossett Golf Course, and 5 miles from Seth Raynor’s iconic, Fishers Island Club. These golf courses and their architects would form his foundation in golf architecture.
He began playing golf in his teens at Shennecossett and his fascination with golf courses and the landscape led him to pursue a career in landscape architecture. He attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill, where he studied Landscape Design, Turfgrass Management, and Landscape Construction. Each of these study areas included instruction in golf course maintenance operations, and he assisted in constructing his first golf green with the university at age 19. After earning his Associates in Landscape Development, he accepted a position on the maintenance crew at Shennecossett Golf Course. There he performed daily maintenance operations with a focus on the green complexes and was a crew leader on numerous construction projects, including bunker renovations, tee construction, green restoration, and fairway drainage projects.
After two full seasons at Shennecossett, he entered the State University of New York College of Environmental Science & Forestry (SUNY ESF) in Syracuse, New York. After completing his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, he began working at the award-winning landscape architecture firm, Environmental Design & Research, PC., (EDR) in Syracuse, NY. While at EDR, he was a project manager and a lead designer at the firm. Here, he worked on his first large scale golf course development projects, including the planning of entire golf communities.
Realizing a growing passion to be more intimately involved in designing the detailed features of a golf course, he left his position at EDR and entered the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the SUNY ESF. His research focused on Golf Course Architecture; to enrich his studies he traveled to Scotland and Ireland. His travels took him to historic links courses including St. Andrews, Prestwick, Turnberry, Western Gailes, Ballybunion and Lahinch. His analyses included studies of the natural processes that created these ideal landscapes for golf, such as erosion by wind and water. These studies serve as the foundation of Barry’s environmental design philosophy: incorporate compositions that reflect natural processes and reference historic links golf courses as a basis for golf design conceptualization.
Early Works –
A Grassroots Approach
In 1996, Barry obtained his professional license in Landscape Architecture and founded Jordan Golf Design. His intent was to build a regionally based “grassroots” design studio. The first decade of his work flourished with projects ranging from revitalization Master Plans for existing golf courses and several large-scale land planning projects. Also, he was commissioned to work on historic courses by renowned architects, including Walter Travis, A. W. Tillinghast, Seth Raynor, Robert Trent Jones, and Geoffrey Cornish. Significant new construction projects included: 11 new holes at Northern Pines Golf Course (Cicero, NY); 13 new holes at Pine Grove Golf Course (Camillus, NY); and design of Butternut Creek, a par three course now home to the Syracuse First Tee program. These early projects would prove invaluable as Barry developed efficient construction methods that maximized the results from limited budgets. During this period, he often worked to educate contractors, many of whom had never built a golf hole before. Finely detailed construction drawings and extensive on-site supervision became standard operation for his practice. In addition, several of these projects required extensive wetland permitting. Barry’s expertise in environmental design expedited the permitting process with the regulatory agencies.
Decade Two –
New Courses; a Significant Ross Restoration; and Collaborating with a Master Craftsman
As the second decade of his work unfolded, Barry received commissions for two new courses, the Lazy Swan Golf & Country Club (Saugerties, New York) and Champion Hills Country Club (Victor, New York). Today, these stand as two of the newest courses in New York State. He also prepared the historic restoration plan for one of Donald Ross’ finest golf courses, Teugega Country Club, along with a number of new Master Plans and feature renovation projects. It was also during this period that Barry began working with Scott Lindsay Hall, an internationally renowned golf course shaper. Barry worked closely with Scott on both of the new courses and together they built a reputation for producing original and well-crafted golf holes. They worked for a decade together and developed a close friendship, each learning from the other, until Scott’s unfortunate passing in 2015.
The Lazy Swan Golf & Country Club Village
Located in the Hudson Valley region of New York, The Lazy Swan Golf and Country Club in Saugerties, New York would become Barry’s first complete 18-hole golf course. In addition to the new course, Barry developed the land planning for the property, and he designed a small village concept that included the clubhouse, wedding facility, Pilates studio, and pro shop buildings. The buildings were all carefully positioned to capture dramatic views of the Catskill Mountains and man-made ponds. The course itself is highlighted by bold and elemental design features with subtle influences from Ross and Raynor, blended with Barry’s natural processes design approach. Golfers are challenged by a wide variety of holes with several containing dramatic elevation changes and others winding through a series of man-made ponds. The greens are generously sized and are infused with strategic interest.
Champion Hills Country Club – Cottage Course
Barry’s second new course built during this period was Champion Hills Country Club in Victor, New York, a suburb of Rochester, New York. The course was paired with a senior community and housing development. Here, Barry introduced an architectural concept and coined the term Cottage Course. The 9-hole course features four par 3’s, four par 4’s, and one par 5. The goal was to provide a high-quality course that could be played within a shorter time-frame. It also allows senior golfers to play with younger family members and friends without being overly burdensome. The Cottage Course concept also provided more opportunities to preserve environmentally sensitive areas. Today, the course stands as a successful model for crafting a high-quality golf course within a smaller footprint.
Teugega Country Club – Donald Ross Historic Restoration
Barry received his first nationally significant historic restoration with Donald Ross’ Teugega Country Club in Rome, New York. Here, Barry demonstrated his commitment to conducting historic research and has been faithfully restoring the 1921 course that Donald Ross himself described as “one of my personal favorites”. The Restoration Plan included restoring greens and fairways to their original dimensions, re-establishing native grass areas, restoring original bunkers, and removal of hundreds of trees in order to recover course strategy and improve turf growing conditions.
Rethinking what a Golf Course can be…
The third decade of Barry’s work began with a major renovation to the Saratoga Spa State Park Golf Course in Saratoga, New York and publication of Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses. The 1.5 million-dollar renovation at Saratoga Spa included construction of a new green complex for the 10th hole, re-positioning and rebuilding all bunkers, new tees, fairway drainage, and new grassing lines throughout the course. The publication of the Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses was the culmination of several years of work. Written in association with Cornell University and a statewide committee of golf course superintendents, Barry authored the Golf Course Design and Construction section. Drawing on his vast experience as an environmental designer and educator, the Best Management Practices for Golf Course Design and Construction, now stands as the gold standard for golf development in the Northeast.
Today, Barry continues to rethink what a golf course can be – artistically, environmentally and economically. “We don’t necessarily need “more” golf courses in many areas right now. But we do need “new” golf courses, and “new ideas” about what a golf course can be. Courses that are artistically refined, environmentally sensible, and economically viable.” This means making structural improvements to the golf course, be they architectural or maintenance improvements, as well as identifying opportunities for “re-pairing” the golf course with complimentary land uses. It also means promoting environmental concepts that protect water quality and add valuable wildlife habitat while reducing maintenance costs. All this achieved with added beauty and textural variety to the golf course landscape. “A golf course should be a landscape where people want to be, whether they are playing golf or not. When this happens, it opens the door for pairing golf with other uses, and this can be an enormous economic benefit to owners”.
For an ongoing narrative of his ideas, you can follow Barry on his Golf Course Architecture blog, “The Space Between Shots”, on this website.