American Society of Golf Course Architects

Geoffrey Cornish, ASGCA Fellow Dies at 97

Cornish_croppedGeoffrey Cornish, a Fellow of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), died February 10, 2012 in Amherst, Mass. He was 97.

Cornish, an ASGCA Past President and native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, designed more golf courses in New England than anyone. He and his associates designed 240 golf courses in the United States, Canada and Europe, including: the International Golf Club, Bolton, Mass.; the Center Valley Club, Center Valley, Pa.; and the New Ashburn Golf Club, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He continued to serve until his death with Mungeam Cornish Golf Design.

He wrote many books and co-authored the landmark reference book, "The Architects of Golf," which allowed readers, for the first time, to obtain specific information about the architectural history of their favorite golf courses while learning more about the people who designed them. For years, Cornish presented to groups around the world on the history and practice of golf course architecture.

He received his bachelor's degree in agronomy from the University of British Columbia and his Master's and honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. Cornish was introduced to golf course architecture in 1935 when evaluating soils for Capilano Golf Club, then under construction by Stanley Thompson in West Vancouver. Cornish soon joined Thompson for training and four years later became greenskeeper at St. Charles Country Club in Winnipeg.

Cornish served overseas with the Canadian Army during World War II, but rejoined Thompson in 1946. He left for a five-year association with pioneer turfgrass scientist Lawrence Dickinson at the University of Massachusetts before opening his own practice in 1952 in Amherst, Mass.

Cornish joined the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1967. He served as ASGCA president in 1975-76 and co-chaired the ASGCA History Committee with Dr. Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA. 

Cornish was a past recipient of the ASGCA Donald Ross Award and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Distinguished Service Award. He is a member of the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.

Cornish was predeceased by his wife Carol. No formal funeral services are planned. The complete obituary can be seen at http://douglassfuneral.com/wp-content/plugins/funeralworks_obituary_plugin/ajax-obituary2.php?Counter=1029 .  Contributions in Geoffrey Cornish's name can be made to the ASGCA Foundation.

Reactions

ASGCA President Rick Phelps:

"Mr. Cornish was a true gentleman and exemplified the highest traditions of ASGCA and the game of golf. His exceptional work as a golf course architect, author and lecturer cannot be overstated. Mr. Cornish's contributions to the profession of golf course architecture and the golf industry will live on for generations."

Mark Mungeam, ASGCA (partner in the firm of Mungeam Cornish Golf Design):

"I was honored to work with Mr. Cornish. He was a true gentleman and wealth of knowledge on golf design and golf in general. He brought so much to public golf as he wanted to create courses that people could really play. Golf, especially in New England, would not be the same without him. Everyone who ever worked with Mr. Cornish knew how he would walk and study a golf course. He would show up for an 8 a.m. meeting at 6 a.m. and walk the golf course, carefully assessing the layout before the meeting even began."

Dr. Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA (co-chairman with Geoffrey Cornish of the ASGCA History Committee):

"Geoffrey Cornish, Bob Graves and Jack Kidwell were as close to saintly men as possible, so for ASGCA to have them as members and past presidents was a blessing. They never spoke ill of anyone or anything, they were true friends to whomever they met, and they gave the game of golf and the profession of golf course design a refined dignity. Geoffrey Cornish was the "Dean" of that group, and he leaves behind a long legacy of great golf courses and golf course designers that he mentored. Geoff was a special man by every and any measure, and every day spent with him was a treasured memory. He will be missed."

Paul Fullmer, ASGCA Executive Secretary Emeritus:
Geoff was my "go to" man when I joined the Society in the '70s, providing me with information that wasn't written down anywhere and sharing his vast knowledge of the history of golf that soon stamped him as "Golf's American Historian," a role he played for many, many years,speaking before groups throughout the U.S. and his beloved native Canada.