POUND RIDGE, N.Y. -- Pound Ridge Golf, New York’s only Pete Dye designed golf course, finalized its construction in November 2007 and is gearing up for a July 2008 grand opening. The high-end daily fee masterpiece will attract domestic and international golfers, as well as regular players from its metro-New York location. The world-class layout was crafted by Dye’s trusted construction manager of nearly 20 years, Michael Langkau.
Pete entrusts his course construction to be carried out by architecture shapers, artists who operate bulldozers while overseeing his course design vision on site. “Mike has done a wonderful job at Pound Ridge Golf Club and I am very proud of his work,” confirmed the legendary designer. Langkau has played a key role in 16 Dye courses throughout the country. His notable projects include: Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin; The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina; The Pete Dye Golf Club in Bridgeport, West Virginia; Crooked Stick in Indianapolis, Indiana; Collecton River Plantation in Bluffton, South Carolina; Brickyard Crossing, Indianapolis, Indiana; Whistling Straits in Haven, Wisconsin; Big Fish Golf Club in Hayward, Wisconsin and the River Course at Virginia Tech, Radford, Virginia. “Everything that I know about golf course construction I know either directly or indirectly because of Pete,” Langkau affirms.
The talented shaper takes Pete’s conceptualization on paper and builds it into reality. The interaction between the two is vital to the creation and implementation of an excellent golf course. “In my early years I was fortunate to work with Pete on a daily basis. I feel that gives me an advantage to understand the subtle hand gestures and language that a new shaper, who has a limited exposure to Pete, can’t possibly understand,” he explains.
Since March 2006, Langkau has excavated the Pound Ridge Golf course site and he has shaped tees, greens and fairways, while working in concert with Pete and his co-designer son, Perry Dye. His skills were particularly tested at Pound Ridge. “The holes here were the 18 toughest holes to shape in my 20-year career because of the quantity of rock,” according to Langkau. “My favorite par-3 is the 15th hole, where we incorporated many of the natural elements of beauty inherent to the entire property on one hole, including a tremendous and visually intimidating rock backdrop. The fifth hole is my favorite par-4 because this hole puts a real premium on precision and strategy. The 16th hole is my favorite par-5 because its uphill length requires careful thought for the second shot. The 14th hole definitely was the most challenging to build. I think the blasters ran out of dynamite here!”
Originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Langkau received his career opportunity at the Innis Arden Golf Club in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, when his employer arranged for an interview with the dean of the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture. While attending UMASS, he interned at Medinah Country Club, Chicago, Illinois, site of three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and the 2012 Ryder Cup. He graduated with an associates degree in Turf Management in 1986.
As the crew foreman at Blackwolf Run in 1988, Langkau received his first taste of Dye construction. “Pete came into my life at a time when I needed someone to look up to and he has provided me with a role model, mentor and at times a father figure,” he says with admiration. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Langkau continuously moved back and forth between Dye projects such as Kiawah Island, The Pete Dye Golf Club and Whistling Straits. When a heavy rain storm created a major setback at The Gauntlet in Southport, North Carolina (a P.B. Dye course), Pete sent his trusted shaper to fix the damage that occurred on his son’s course.
Between September 1989 and the Ryder Cup in September 1991, Langkau received a crash course in golf course construction and design at Kiawah Island. The commitment that Pete made to build a golf course from scratch to host a Ryder Cup two years later was unprecedented. The impending Ryder Cup was of such importance to Pete and his wife Alice that they lived on-site to oversee the construction process. Weeks after breaking ground, Hurricane Hugo took aim at Kiawah and Charleston and completely devastated South Carolina. “I arrived a few weeks later and within days Pete gave me my big break, operating heavy equipment. One thing led to another and I started my shaping career there. After we finished the golf course it all came down to the final group on the final hole where Bernard Langer missed ‘the putt heard around the world’ that would have retained the Cup for the European team. The golf course had only been open for a few months prior but has since become a landmark in American golf.’
With the Pound Ridge course opening in 2008, Langkau looks forward to the future honors that he believes will be bestowed upon the club. “When your previous project receives critical acclaim, it gives you a tremendous amount of credibility. I am also very pleased that Mr. Wang chose to keep Pound Ridge accessible to all golfers, as I enjoy building Dye courses that are available for everyone to play.”
“Pete and Perry Dye have spent a lot of time at the Pound Ridge site. Pete averages one to two courses per year, so he can oversee the construction on a regular basis,” Langkau adds. “The number of courses that Pete has in the Top 100 lists is simply amazing. When you compare the number of courses an architect is credited with against the number of courses he has in the Top 100, nobody comes close to Pete.”
Pound Ridge Golf Club is situated in affluent Westchester County. The new 18-hole daily fee public course has been carved out of 172 acres of magnificent rocky cliffs, streams and wooded hills. The club anticipates becoming a destination course with golfers visiting from across the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Contact: On Course Strategies LLC