For many decades now, Midland Hills has been making guesses about what Seth Raynor intended when he designed our golf course. We were certain that much of the original design had slowly been lost over time, as the golf course evolved. We have made our best guesses based on the earliest aerial photograph (1937), how Raynor wanted players to navigate the course, how he used the topography as strategy, where bunkers used to lie, et cetera.
Not since 1921, when the founding members walked the course with Raynor, have we really known exactly how Midland Hills was designed.
Until right now.
Last Friday afternoon, I was searching for a topography map in my office closet. Since I started in 2010, I’ve noticed there was a false ceiling tile in sideways, with a gap showing. A hunch came over me. At first I was tired of looking at the gap in the ceiling, so I wanted to fix it. But before I did, I wondered if something had gone wrong in the past – maybe a ceiling leak or running new communication cable, etc. I grabbed my cell phone, turned on the light and stood on my chair. Rolled up against the wall, above the false ceiling, there was a canvas map.
I took the map down and unrolled it on my office floor. I immediately realized this wasn’t just any map. This was THE MAP. A map of Raynor’s original design. A map that answers questions, unequivocally, about exactly what Raynor intended. In the Midland Board minutes, it was documented that an irrigation system was desperately needed to water the new greens and tees during the grow-in of the course in 1921. Crane and Ordway Co., of St. Paul took a copy of the original Raynor drawings and designed an irrigation system over the top, to present to the Midland Board. This 3 foot by 6 foot map is from February 7, 1921, five months before the golf course officially opened for play.
Below is the map in 3 sections, so you can get a closer look:
How significant is this map? It’s extremely rare; maybe only a few like this, in this condition, exist.
So what does it mean? For starters, it gives our golf course architect, Jim Urbina, a solid background for developing our Master Plan. It’s now clear that Raynor designed Midland Hills with the highest aspirations, with intentions to maximize the land and topography.
Take some time and look through the design, hole by hole. There are many surprises, especially if you think about the topography and where the grass lines lie. Some of the lost features were just spectacular!
Again, we really hope you’ll attend the Town Hall meeting on April 17th.
These are exciting times for Midland Hills!