As the relaunched PGA Tour heads to Connecticut’s TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship, “Talking GolfGetaways” takes a closer look at the career of golf-course designer Bobby Weed, who joins co-host Mitch Laurance for a wide-ranging hourlong discussion of his work — and longtime relationship with legendary architect and mentor Pete Dye — on Episode 157 of the podcast.
Weed got his start working for Dye at Long Cove on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and was later hired by the PGA Tour. He served as superintendent overseeing early improvements to Dye’s famed TPC Sawgrass course and later became in-house architect for the Tour in 1987. His collaboration with by Dye and the PGA Tour fueled a career that has lasted more than four decades and resulted in golf-course projects of all shapes, sizes and styles across the country — private, public, municipal and resort — many of which have hosted professional events.
Weed’s resume includes a number of courses whose design featured a collaboration with many of the game’s pioneers and luminaries, as well as a recent design in Hobe Sound, Florida, featuring the most high-profile, non-golfer collaborator Weed has ever worked with: Michael Jordan, who chose Weed to design MJ’s exclusive Grove XXIII.
Also in Hobe Sound is another star-studded club with Weed’s fingerprints: The Medalist, which stepped into the spotlight in May when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady played the made-for-television Match II. Woods, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and other big names of the game call The Medalist their home club.
But not every client — or golfer, for that matter — is a superstar or Tour professional. So while Weed has built golf courses throughout the United States for some of the most prestigious clubs you’ll find, his main question when starting a project is: “Who are we building this course for?”
“The real challenge today is building playable golf courses,” he says, adding that his goal is “to build courses that will accommodate the varying type of golfers we have.” And the list of public-access courses Weed has built runs deep, including Tournament Players Club tracks everywhere from Las Vegas to Tampa, plus courses such as StoneRidge in Minnesota, Glen Mills in the Philadelphia area and the Slammer & Squire at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida. And then there’s his renovation of a 1925 Donald Ross design at Florida’s Palatka Golf Club, which Weed and company “brought back from the brink of extinction.”
Meanwhile, golf fans can get another look at Weed’s private-club work when the PGA Tour visits TPC River Highlands for the Travelers Championship — which many professionals consider one of their favorite host courses.
Featuring some shorter 4-pars and semi-blind holes, Weed says the Connecticut course “has a bit of quirkiness to it, and quirks are a good thing.” Originally opened in 1928 as Middletown Golf Club and then renamed Edgewood Country Club in 1934, the PGA Tour purchased the struggling course in the early 1980s and, with the help of Dye and Weed, re-opened it as TPC of Connecticut in 1984.
When first redesigned, Dye renovated the back-nine holes. But years later, Weed and his design partner were able to use additional purchased land along the river to help route new holes and create a continuous 18 that had the same feel throughout. The new version was a hit, and a few popular players, including Corey Pavin, helped get the word out among their peers.
“It started attracting a better field, and the tournament really grew and was very much accepted as part of the Tournament Players Club network,” Weed says. The 2020 Travelers Championship, which (thanks to fortunate scheduling) wasn’t affected by coronavirus cancellations, features nine of the Top 10 players in the world — yet another example of the course and tournament’s appeal.
One final aspect of Weed’s impact on the game (and vice-versa) that’s highlighted during the podcast is how he’s worked with so many of golf history’s greatest to ever tee it up — Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead and Gene Sarazen, just to name an illustrious few. “A lot of great history there, just being around those guys,” Weed recalls. “All these guys are just national treasures in every way … some of the great players that span so many eras of our great history of golf in this country.”
—Words by Zack Noll & Mitch Laurance