Master Plans, Seth Raynor, Templates, Jim Urbina and More…

The Beginning

Over the next few weeks I will be posting information, links, pictures, articles and videos about Classic Golf Course Architecture, as well as examples of golf courses that have gone through what Midland is planning for. I’ll cover Master Planning, Seth Raynor Template holes, as well as his other design traits and examples. I’ll also highlight our architect, Jim Urbina, his background in restoration and renovation projects, as well as how he implements his Master Plans. Again, this blog is a great platform for two-way communication so send questions, comments and content. The more interaction, the better!

Simply put, you’ll get out what you put in for reading through what’s posted here. Read and follow along at your leisure, the posts will remain on the site, so you can slowly make your way through all of it. The intent and hope is that you can learn the facts about how Midland has changed, just like thousands of other Classic courses around the country, why/how they are being returned to their original glory, and how turning back the clock through renovations/restorations, as well as recapturing original design intentions, bolstered their success and vitality going forward. There is a reason Golden Age architecture is so revered, strategic, fun and aesthetically beautiful in their own architect’s unique regards.


Master Plans

Let’s dig a little deeper into Master Plans. Understanding the what’s and why’s of a Master Plan are crucial to separating the facts from fiction. The following three links are a good base to start at:

Golf Course Renovations And Master Plans: Why And When?


The following link is a nice piece the USGA put together with some internal links for more information:


If you want even more information on Master Planning, the USGA has a great home-base page that includes videos and several links to educating articles:


As you can see from the previous links of information, a Master Plan is a long-term business plan for golf courses. These Plans are normally created to correct natural change that occurs over several decades of use/evolution, and to correct mistakes that were made in the past, that lead leadership to realize it had changed away from its original Architect’s intent. Especially in regards to courses during the Golden Age, the most common trend is to return courses to their original strategy. It is often difficult to see that uniqueness (or envision what it could be) of a design, because most players are commonly used to playing the evolved versions of today. It’s widely know that the cost of “doing nothing” in regards to a business plan is no plan at all. The common adage of “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” rings true with golf courses. Midland is far from failing, that is certain, but the Greens Committee and Board of Directors realize that improvements to the golf course need to take place to stay relevant in this extremely competitive golf market. However, disturbance to a golf course is commonly met with disappointment and resistance, but long-term success is based on investing in your assets, even if it only occurs every few decades. Golf course components need upgrading and repair, just like your car, home, and anything else that is user-based. Some components are on the surface – shifted grass lines of greens and fairways, unlevel tees that point to non-intended targets/landforms, contaminated bunker sand, bunker sand built up on faces which prevents balls from rolling into the sand, as well as preventing surface water from escaping green complexes, etc. Some components are under the surface – poorly performing drainage in greens, fairways and bunkers, natural drain swales that no longer have positive flow because of silt build up, dysfunctional green’s rootzone make up, which prevents turf from growing in a healthy environment, playing surfaces that are invaded with roots from trees, which outcompete highly playable areas for water and nutrients, etc.

Master Planning is a process that evaluates and grades all aspects of the course, prioritizing a set plan to make improvements to the infrastructures, and logistics of how to accomplish those set goals. Hiring an architect, and in Midland’s case, an expert who truly understands Seth Raynor’s designs is absolutely key to success. There was an attempt to hire an architect in the 1980’s, and luckily that renovation plan was not implemented because it disregarded Seth Raynor’s architectural genius all together. Jim Urbina, who has a strong background of restoring courses of the Golden Age, has a strong affinity to Seth Raynor, and his architectural style and Template holes. Jim’s goal will not be to leave “his” mark on the course, but to bring back the missing unique and unmistakable elements of Raynor’s design.

Master Plans typically upgrade the “art” of Golden Age golf courses. That art is what draws people’s emotions and creates the interactional attachment. Having great turf on a course is a caveat, but it doesn’t elicit the emotional attachment of bolstering passion of playing the same course daily. That passion comes from the camaraderie with family and great friends, combined with the art on which the game of golf is played upon. Master Plans, typically at Golden Age courses, aim at restoring the original art and strategy. Any “Top 100” list is dominated by restored Classic golf courses, designed by Golden Age Architect’s “art”, including our very own Seth Raynor. 

Here’s a great example of a Master Plan that was instituted at Donald Ross’ design – Hyde Park in Cincinnati Ohio:

One more example of a club, Moraine CC in Ohio, which decided to renovate and restore their course that originally was laid out, architecturally, with the land upon which it stood, as its greatest asset:

It’s important to understand that Midland’s Master Plan is not intended to “blow up” the golf course, return the golf course to the original 1921 routing, or just make the course simply harder, but rather, it’s intent is to reintroduce the Classic style and strategy that existed 98 years ago, as well as enhance the playability for all ages, skill levels and gender. This Plan will drastically improve and protect Midland’s rare “art” for this (and the next) generation of members, as well as strengthen their passion and emotional attachment.

Mike Manthey

3 Replies to “Master Plans, Seth Raynor, Templates, Jim Urbina and More…”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Imperative in a competitive golf market!

  2. Dan Knudsen says:

    I think the history of the club and the original design is fascinating. Having played othe Seth Raynor clubs around the area and country, I think to attempt to recapture the original design and strategy of the layout is both enlightened and very cool. As a long term member, I’ll be looking forward to the findings!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Enjoyed your message! That design and strategy has been a sleeping giant under member’s feet for many decades. It’s very difficult to visualize or imagine what Midland could be again, unless, like you, have played and experienced a restored and renovated Raynor design. A very exciting time to see what the potential of the course could be with Jim Urbina’s guidance, unlocking that giant!
      Hope to see you in April at the meeting,

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