Golf Architects/Designers: Von Hagge, Smelek & Baril (Robert von Hagge)

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Robert von Hagge was literally born and raised on a golf course. For six years in the 1920’s, his father, Ben F. von Hagge, was associated with Donald Ross, the famous Scottish golf course architect. Ben then became a country club manager and developer of club facilities in and around the Chicago area. He won the Chicago District Golf Association Top Turf award seven times in a period of fourteen years in which he competed, while simultaneously managing the various clubs with which he was then affiliated.

Before his 17th birthday, Robert von Hagge had worked as a caddy, a shop boy (cleaning and repairing golf clubs), a caddy master, a golf course maintenance crewman, an assistant greens superintendent, assistant golf professional, and as a commercial illustrator for sporting magazines. After graduating from high school, he entered Purdue University Agriculture School, and majored in landscape architecture. Additionally, he served in the United States Navy’s advanced V-12 O.C.S. program. While attending Purdue studying spatial planning and design, he subsidized his student income by freelancing as a commercial artist for outdoor magazines.

In 1955, Dick Wilson, one of America’s foremost golf course architects, employed him as an apprentice golf course designer. By 1959, Robert was recognized within the profession as a principal designer with the Wilson firm. By the year’s end in 1962, he had been involved in all or part of the design of 40 golf courses in the U.S. and the Caribbean and four foreign countries. Later that same year, he resigned his affiliation with the Dick Wilson Company in order to start his own golf course architectural and design firm.

Today, as Founder and Senior Partner/Architect of von Hagge Smelek & Baril, Robert can boast being intimately involved in the design of more than 240 golf courses world-wide.  He continues to hone his skills and maintain hands-on involvement in the creation of distinctive designs all over the world.