A Significant Discovery!

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!

Mike Manthey


34 Replies to “A Significant Discovery!”

  1. Joel Karsten says:

    Wow, what a discovery! This is wonderful to have the original layout with all the details. I watched some of the video’s with Jim Urbina that you suggested. He is very thoughtful, with amazing attention to detail and golf knowledge. I hope to make the meeting in April.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      This puts MH in rare air with having something this detailed, and in such great condition. Jim is great at his craft. The excitement level just went up several notches. Hope to see you next month, can’t miss it!

  2. Chris Hanson says:

    Mike – What a great find. Should be a great aid in developing the new Master Plan. Exciting news. Thanks for sharing it.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      This will certainly change aspects of the MP. Anxiously awaiting to see what develops for all of you and MH!

  3. Jeff Ische says:

    What a fantastic find! A game changer in your upcoming Master Plan work by one of the best, Jim Urbina!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Indeed!. Extremely happy for MH members to be able to have such a rare piece of art! Extremely excited to see what JU does with it. Stay tuned!

  4. FDZ says:


    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Never say never!

  5. Scott Maanum says:

    This is an amazing find! That bunkering is so fun, and the grass lines are so different than the current course. I can’t wait to see what Urbina will propose when he is armed with this information. Time to call the guys at the Fried Egg as this seems like a fun story to tell!

    On our current hole 8, am I correct that the mapping shows a bunker all the way around the green so if you miss short it won’t come all the way back down the hill? I am also surprised that on our current hole 12, the map doesn’t show the Biarritz green to see if our current green was the original design or if the original design had the green split traditionally in two different sections as that was the original strategy intent.

    Thank you for the update!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Pretty amazing! The course is vastly better than our earliest aerial of 1937, it’s not even close. The difference shows that major changes had already been made in the first 16 years, unfortunately not for the better. The scale, grass lines, angles, Raynor directing you with bunkering off the tee and on approach, is so full of strategy, fun, and phenomenal architecture. Notice there are only 40 bunkers, Raynor used the topography, sloughs, side lies, the fairway running out into rough, correlating using more bunkers on flatter sites, vs. less bunkers and the topo more of the strategy. The current 8th didn’t have a bunker surrounding it. Those lines signify rapid decent of topo, but they lack a perimeter line which signifies the bunker outline. So originally, the current 8th green dropped away from the surface all the way around, which created quite a difficult short par 4! Our Biarritz was never split on the green surface. Raynor designed it both ways in his short career, so I would assume he implemented one based on the topography and specific site values. Aerials from the 30’s and 40’s show a shadow in the approach, assuming our swale has always been prior to the putting surface. Another signal is the bunkering on the left of the hole, as the split in between the bunkers typically shows where the swale resided.

      There’s been a lot of interest in the map around the golf architecture world. Look for good things to come.

      Very excited for Jim Urbina to have something like this to assist in his study of Midland.


  6. Wayne L. Gladfelter says:

    This is a great discovery of valuable documents. During the move to the current clubhouse location, someone must of put these in the odd location where you found them. Regardless, it is nice to recovery them.

  7. That map has been at Midland longer than Jim!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      This and the fairway dino-roller!

  8. Brad Melchior says:

    This is awesome, very fun to imagine the course how it was originally built – Our current #15 – looks really fun with that finger extending into the pond and a back bunker. Looks like the pond extended more into the fairway back then compared to current. Firing at that back pin and sneaking into a bunker could turn a par into a double real quick!

    1. Mike Manthey says:


      Good eye! Now take a look closer, notice there was no pond in front of current 16. They buried the pond across current 15 fairway with the pond soil they dug from 16. This happened from 1921 to 1937 and it was a tragedy, and explains why 15 fairway is always so wet. Current 15’s design was one of the best short par 4’s I’ve laid eyes on! There was even a fairway bunker at the beginning of 15, aiming you off the tee. And the green complex was phenomenal! I’ll post more changes over time on the blog from the original design.

  9. Dan Kelly says:

    Very happy to see all of these excited comments.

    Bring it on, Jim Urbina!

    I can’t wait to play a proper Short, the gargantuan Redan Mr. Raynor designed, a 90-degree Biarritz, the fantastically strategic 13th (left-to-right!), and … and … and the rest of the 18 holes, restored and/or renovated (“restovated”) — all at Midland Hills!

    We are a lucky bunch.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Exciting to imagine all the smiling faces!

  10. Matt Chock says:

    Awesome find Mike, and amazing timing to discover it right before we get started on the master plan for the course. A couple of the ones that jumped out to me that make sense were the bunkers on current #2 (both fairway bunkers as well as how the right green side bunker wrapped around the back of the green), and the green side bunkers on current #10. Also very interesting as you and Brad pointed out to see what #15 used to look like.

    I’m excited to see how this helps us get to a great plan for the future.


    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Indeed, there are so many design aspects that are surprising, and without a doubt, a much more strategic course. Raynor maximized the amazing property into his design so well, he didn’t need more than 40 bunkers. There’s some hidden treasures in the design. Will be exciting to see what Jim Urbina comes up with to restore those strategies as the game is played today.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Matt —

      That is not a bunker at the green on current No. 2. Those hash marks indicate a rapid rise or fall. It appears that, as Jim Urbina told us during his visit two summers ago, Raynor wanted to let balls feed off the back and down the hill.

      The bunkers on Raynor’s map are indicated by empty circles with hash marks on one or both sides.


  11. Richard Neuner says:

    This only happens in the movies! Just before launching on a Master Plan to restore more of the Seth Raynor elements to the course, we discover the mother-lode of the original design. I never have trusted false ceilings. I’m unable to make the April meeting as I’ll be out of town. However, I read the excellently written Master Plan Process document and spoke both with Tim and Ryan at some length. My questions are answered and I’m excited for what’s to come.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      I agree, we’ve struck gold! I don’t trust false ceilings either but now I just want to look above any/all I see!
      We’ll have the meeting taped for those who cannot attend. We want to make certain everyone can get the education.

  12. Pat Gray says:

    Extremely exciting find. What an opportunity for Jim Urbina to have the original template to work from. Did the ghost of Seth Raynor direct you to this amazing map?

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      An amazing opportunity Pat. I’m a big believer in fate. Or I am now anyway!

  13. Craig Stenson says:

    I love history! To have this kind of history with a club I just joined is so exciting! Mike, I am glad you finally listened to your gut and poked your head into the rafters! What a find!!! Cannot wait to see the map in person!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Yes, this is significant in the golf architecture world. Couldn’t be happier for MH.
      See you and the map next month!

  14. Kent Larson says:

    Mike, great find. Golf’s equivilant to American Pickers! According to the drawings it would appear that many of my shots would end up in a fairway instead of rough or behind a tree! Although around the greens looks to be a nightmare. Can hardly wait to hear what the long term master plan looks like now.

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Who would have thought it was under/or above our nose the entire time! You are correct in your assessment, that’s exactly what Classic Architecture was about – width which allowed ball placement, strategy with angles into greens with well guarded green complexes. Being able to advance the ball wherever it lied, was the basis of golf. If you missed the fairway, which as you can see, were very wide, you still had to hit the hero shot to keep it on the green, but you had a chance to pull it off. There were no punch out shots!
      Exciting times, see you next month.

  15. Bill Sands says:

    Do you think Crane & Ordway would have other maps, etc., in their archives? Can’t wait to jump into this exciting process!!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      It’s my understanding that Crane and Ordway is now 3M. I imagine they have a large archive!
      Glad to hear your excitement.

  16. Paul Kirkegaard says:

    Thanks for looking out for the current and future membership of MHCC, Mike. This find of yours will be a grand topic of discussion for many moons and in many venues. Congrats to you and MHCC!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      Thank you for also thinking about the future, not always the easiest thing to do. We need a plan and vision for the future generations so we can ensure MH thrives. This find gives us an automatic boost as how bright our future could be. The map will proudly be displayed in the clubhouse, and will be a great conversation piece.
      Cheers to MH!

  17. Steve Lee says:

    Way to go, Mike!
    I absolutely love this story! Makes for a great story to tell golfing friends and a great intro into what we are about to do at our place!

    I cannot wait to explore the options and move MHCC into the future, by utilizing our historic past!

    1. Mike Manthey says:

      It is a great story, and certainly worth sharing. You couldn’t have said it any better, exploring options for the future by utilizing the past. I’ve studied all 18 holes of the original design, and I can tell you (IMO), our past was absolutely amazing! Seth Raynor was sincere when he said he was most interested in this course and it’s potential, more than any other, through his career in 1921. His design at MH was extremely strategic, and what looked like a blast to play. No doubt our future is bright!

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