For eighteen years, Stonewall has been a second home. We were a young family when I built the Old course back in 1992, and many of the club's staff are still on board, eighteen years later.
From the beginning, Stonewall has been a place to relax, where good manners and an appreciation for the game of golf trump any need for rules and dress codes. It is a retreat from the everyday world, and just far enough from the city that it is a special trip each time you choose to go.
One of the things I appreciate most about the courses is that they retain the character of the original property and the farms that preceded golf here. On the Old Course, having the chance to build the first tee and eighteenth green right up against the stone barns which would become the clubhouse was a unique opportunity to connect clubhouse and course. And on the North course, we enjoyed the opportunity to use the old walls and the church building up in the southeast corner of the property as major features of the routing plan.
The two courses are sisters, each with their own personality. The Old Course is more traditional in form, with very small greens, dramatic flashed bunkering, and views to the east across the Pew estate. The North Course requires more local knowledge, with its undulating and varied greens, where the best place to miss an approach shot depends entirely on the day's hole location, and even the views are different, with most of the course facing out to the south-west.
On both courses, we tried to incorporate features in the spirit of the great courses of the world, without copying any specific hole. The tilted greens of the Old course are a throwback to Garden City Golf Club, in New York, where there is an open approach for players who want to bounce the ball into the greens, but they must take a different line of play to avail themselves of the option. The five short holes on each course are reminiscent of the many William Flynn designs around Philadelphia, such as Rolling Green and Manufacturers and Lancaster, each of which also boasts of five great par-3's. And on the North course, the tee shot at the third is inspired by the fourth hole at Royal Melbourne (West) in Australia, while the par-3 17th is a rendition of the classic Redan from North Berwick in Scotland.
Every great golf architect has taken the time to study the great links of the British Isles, upon which the game of golf evolved. My ideas on golf course design are shaped by having seen nearly every great course in the world — more than 1,000 in all. It still fascinates me how different good courses can be from one another. Sometimes a stretch of ground will remind me of a golf hole I saw in Britain twenty years ago, but the best designs of all are organic, evolving from the subtleties of the ground they inhabit.