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William Amick

When talking about the chess pieces of grass-carved fairways, swings, links, and putts, the man behind some of these beguiling courses often gets lost somewhere in the setting sun’s shadow. This narrative rightfully places the spotlight on the master creator, William Amick, a golf course architect whose designs we so devotedly sink our golf balls into.

William W. “Bill” Amick, like most successful figures in golf, has an enduring love for the game. However, what sets him apart is his passion not necessarily for scoring birdies and eagles but for creating carefully conceived arenas where these scores can be achieved.

Born in 1924, Amick entered the battlefield of World War II as a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber. After serving honorably, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill to study landscape architecture at University of California, Berkeley. However, he found his calling not in designing urban landscapes but in sculpting golf courses. Encouraged by Robert Trent Jones, the foremost golf course architect at that time, Amick steered his ship in the direction of golf course architecture.

As an apprentice of Jones, he mastered the art of design but also added his personal flair and creativity, giving birth to a myriad of golf courses that carry his unique signature. He branched out independently in 1959 and transformed the golf course architectural industry with his simplistic yet aesthetically pleasing designs.

Amick’s designs are often characterized by the balanced blend they achieve between the natural and artificial. He always attempted to preserve nature to its maximum, believing that the most strategic golfing challenges were provided by nature itself. The outdoor settings of wild undulations, aquatic bodies, and sandy bunkers were his canvas. He sewed these elements together, often creating a layout that would bring out the best golfing skills of the players.

Moreover, his designs always kept in mind the environment and its sustainability. His priority was to design courses that were not only challenging and beautiful but also did not cost the earth, both literally and metaphorically. This mindset resulted in a pioneering approach to sustainable design in golf.

Consider the Inverrary Golf Club in Lauderhill, Florida. Here, Amick showcases his brilliance by weaving aspects of nature effortlessly into the golf course. The course’s hills, sloping fairways, and slick greens offer natural challenge, while water hazards are strategically placed to enhance the visual appeal and add an extra layer of complexity. He made this course, like many others, suit golfers of all abilities with multiple tee settings, creating it with strategy in mind.

Another masterpiece of Amick’s is the Riviera Country Club in Coral Gables, Florida. Known for its longevity and unique layout, this course beautifully mirrors the vision of Amick, merging the serenity of nature with fairway challenges.

Though his designs garnered global acclaim, Amick never saw golf course designing as purely a business venture. For him, it was much more personal. He enjoyed the process, the transformative journey of turning a simple piece of land into a blossoming golf course filled with vibrant fairways and greens. His work was his passion, and he was dedicated to mastering it, believing that each of his creations had a distinct identity and a story of its own to tell.

To say that William Amick’s contributions to the world of golf were momentous would be an understatement. His innovative design ethos, his artful merger of golf with nature, and his uncompromising commitment to sustainable practices have made him a legend in golf course architecture. His legacy continues to inspire emerging golf course designers, who look towards his designs as illustrious examples of what a golf course should be – a place that connects golfers not just to the game, but also the world around them.

Beyond a golf course designer, William Amick is a virtuoso, a craftsman who has woven the fabric of the game into the tapestry of the surroundings, creating an environment for golf that inspires, challenges and ultimately captivates the players who venture onto his incredible creations.

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