Golf Time Magazine
German article about the Cuscowilla Golf Course – English Translation
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June 1, 1998 -- One thing fundamentally distinguishes the two new Ryder Cup Captains: Mark James can only lose, Ben Crenshaw can only win. After the downright embarrassing two losses in a row for the Americans, there is only one goal fro US golfers in 1999 (September 24 to 26 at the Brookline CC near Boston): winning the Ryder Cup.
Ben Daniel Crenshaw, 46, born in Austin, Texas, US Masters champion 1984 with a two stroke lead over Tom Watson, disciple of Harvey Penick, and still one of the best putters, is placing all his efforts into recapturing the golden Ryder Cup trophy with an optimally prepared team. To the provocative question why he is so sure the Americans will win this time, he responded with his typical grin: “Did I say I’m so sure?”
Of course no one will or can commit himself. Mark James was also evasive when he assumed his captaincy in Munich: “If everything goes perfectly, and the players are comfortable with the course, we stand a good chance.” However, both James and Crenshaw know: on the one hand the course is decisive, on the other it depends on the form the players are in on a given day. Crenshaw: “It is easy to get a grip on the form of the players through optimal short play. If that works, I’m in good shape.” Crenshaw is also convinced that the Americans lost the duel with Valderama because of their inferior short game. Crenshaw: “Particularly in Brookline the short game will determine the outcome. The course is tight and has not changed since the US Open was held there in 1988.”
During the British Open, Crenshaw had his first opportunity as the new Ryder Cup Captain to make contact with the players. “I played two training rounds with Furyk”, says Crenshaw “and I very much like what I saw and heard out there.”
Another thing that makes it difficult for Mark James and his troop is the fact that Ben Crenshaw has a very special relationship with the Brookline CC. He had his first big appearance at the Brookline CC when he beat David Eger as a 16 year old on the US Junior Amateur team. But Brookline already wrote golf history in 1973, when a certain Francis Ouimet upset British heroes Harry Vardon and Ted Ray on this very course and thus started the first golf boom in the United States. What impressed the Texan much more back then, 30 years ago: the design of the golf course, the undulating greens, the fairways, which are perfectly placed in the landscape.
Today Ben Crenshaw, who earned almost exactly $5.5 million in prize money alone during his professional career on the US PGA Tour, has a second career designing and building golf courses.
In 1986 he founded his own company and set himself the goal of building a maximum of two courses per year. His motto: “Not to rape nature.”
His latest and also his best project: “The Golf Club at Cuscowilla”, located on Lake Oconee between golfing Mecca Augusta and the Olympic city of Atlanta. Crenshaw: “Here we were given free reign by the clients to do as we wished. This is offered to us frequently; however once we get started, the constraints, mainly of a financial nature, begin to appear.”
Ben Crenshaw was fortunate with his client: he is German entrepreneur Heinz Nathe, Hcp 17, founding member of the golf club Unna-Froendenberg near Dortmund (Germany), who has since 1978 been earning some extra spending money with, among other things, real estate in the Atlanta area. Four years ago he bought 600 acres of land in the former Indian reservation on Lake Oconee in order to market it as a real estate project.
Once he looked at his new possession with the eyes of a golfer, it became clear to him: “There will be a golf course here.” Ben Crenshaw, whose relationship to Nathe advanced from mere employee to genuine friend gushes: “The first time I walked over this land I was enthusiastic. The terrain is ideal for a golf course.”
Indeed Ben Crenshaw and his team created a perfect golf course with interesting fairways and really fast and difficult greens. In addition, Crenshaw was able to integrate the existing trees o f a former tree farm so well into the project, that at the opening of the course, one might have had the sense of a 30 year old golf course that merely been reworked.
Nathe at the official opening: “The golf resort is intended to be refinanced by the sale of real estate along the lake and the fairways.” Nearly 500 units are planned; the lots begin at about ˝ acre at prices between $50,000 and $120,000. The houses build mostly of wood run from $225,000 to $400,000. Club membership is obligatory. In the meantime a number of Germans have second homes here.
Heinz Nathe wholeheartedly: “It is so beautiful here – I don’t ever want to leave…”