Course Architect Jay Morrish Dies

Castle Pines, Ravenna and Blackstone are among the Colorado native’s credits.

Jay Morrish, the Grand Junction native whose considerable contributions to golf course architecture locally, nationally and internationally earned him a place in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, died March 2. He was 78 and had struggled with heart problems.

His Colorado portfolio includes design work with Jack Nicklaus on Castle Pines Golf Club and on Country Club of the Rockies, and with Tom Weiskopf on Eagle Springs Golf Club in Wolcott and Grandote Peaks Golf Club in La Veta. He also designed Blackstone Country Club (Aurora), The Club at Ravenna (Littleton), Colorado National Golf Club (Erie) and River Valley Ranch Golf Club (Carbondale).

Photo: Castle Pines Golf Club, 12th Hole

Photo: The Club at Ravenna

After receiving a degree in landscape and turf management from Colorado State University, Morrish soon joined the construction team on the Robert Trent Jones-designed Spyglass Hill course in Pebble Beach, California. He continued to work as construction superintendent on Jones’ courses until joining Desmond Muirhead as a designer in 1967.

In 1972, Morrish went to work as a designer for 10 years with Nicklaus. He then went off on his own to partner with Weiskopf, producing 25 high-profile courses, including Loch Lomond in Scotland and TPC Scottsdale.

“He was somebody special,” Weiskopf said. “The total package. I learned so much from him. I couldn’t have started in the business with a better guy…We were a terrific team.”

In the mid 1990s Morrish went solo, taking his son, Carter, under his wing. He designed many new golf courses including Tehama for Clint Eastwood in Carmel, California; Stone Canyon in Tuscon; and Forest Highlands and Pine Canyon in Flagstaff.

Photo: Forest Highlands, Flagstaff, Arizona via facebook.com

Other notable designs include TPC Las Colinas outside Dallas and Troon Golf and Country Club in Scottsdale. He also designed courses in Spain, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

“Golf course architecture is a very subjective field of endeavor, and that is good,” he once said. “The game of golf would be distressingly boring if all golf course architects embraced similar design philosophies. Long live diversity!”

Morrish was an active member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, joining in 1989 and taking over the presidency shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 provided a unique set of challenges, he later recalled.

“The United States was still in shock and we were all exploring uncharted waters as to ways of communicating, traveling and doing business,” Morrish said at the time. “Thankfully, ASGCA members were a strong group with great imagination and perseverance.”

Although he had long based himself in Texas, in 2007, Morrish was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Columbine Country Club.

He is survived by his wife, Louise; children, Carter and Kim, son-in-law, Brian Coder; and grandchildren, Megan and Spencer Coder.

Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.comJon Rizzi is the founding editor and co-owner of this regional golf-related media company producing magazines, web content, tournaments, events and the Golf Passport.

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