As 2017 roars forward the Arnold Palmer Design Company is delighted to share its recent successes on a select number of exciting projects and opportunities on the horizon. Arnold Palmer's extraordinary life is a source of inspiration for current and future generations. We believe there is no better way to honor and drive his legacy forward than to design fun, beautiful and captivating golf courses that foster the same joy and excitement to which he dedicated his design practice. We look forward to spending our time channeling the passion we have for great golf course architecture into projects that build upon the legacy of our friend, leader and mentor Arnold Palmer. Long live the King!

STOP PRESS: APDC architects Brandon Johnson and Thad Layton will appear on the Golf Channel's Morning Drive segment on Thursday 16 March, discussing the future of the company with presenter Matt Ginella. 

Our friends in the golf industry all want to know what’s next for the Arnold Palmer Design Company? In short: forward progress. Mr. Palmer’s loss came far sooner than we expected, but its eventuality had been considered and planned-for within the firm. As he did with all things, Mr. Palmer built APDC to last. As such, we’re well positioned, solidly structured and strongly backed for the next chapter of the business.

To that end, we now have a twofold mission:

Maintain Core Commitments:

For the Arnold Palmer family of courses, we are stewards of his brand and historic design tradition. This means curating and enhancing our robust portfolio of unique golf courses with the same core team that worked alongside Mr. Palmer over the past 20 years. Existing clients can continue to expect consistent service of the highest quality.


Drive Forward:

Over the past 12 months, Mr. Palmer had been working with us to expand APDC’s vision, creating new facets for the firm that anticipate changes in the game—and then authoritatively crafting what the next 100 years of golf will look like. For our current and future clients, we will continue to build fun, beautiful, and strategically significant golf courses that embody the design principles and philosophies of our mentor, Arnold Palmer.

Working alongside Arnie’s Army Charitable Foundation and with all of you, we at APDC will continue to strengthen the legacy Mr. Palmer established throughout his remarkable life as one of the greatest ambassadors our sport has ever known. We are dedicated to preserving and enhancing his legacy and look forward to carrying on his work for many years to come.


Palmer Design’s latest new course opened for preview play in January. Lakewood National Golf Club located just outside Sarasota/Bradenton, Florida, is nestled next to the Little Brayden River within Lennar Homes’ latest housing development. South Florida golf course contractor Ryan Golf teamed with Lennar and APDC to execute the work.

When Lennar, a nationally acclaimed home builder, approached the Arnold Palmer Design team to collaborate with them, both companies relished at the opportunity to break the mold of traditional development golf. “We saw an opportunity to adjust initial masterplan efforts and take advantage of existing northern and southern wetland buffers to create golf corridors that used the natural features as borders on one side while incorporating ponds necessary for site drainage and lot development on the opposite side as a buffer and aesthetic element between golf and homes.” said Palmer architect Brandon Johnson.

“Our intent was to create a fun and beautiful golf course that uses meaningful width and contour, rarely found in this region of Florida, as the main aesthetic and strategic elements”. Generous fairways will allow players to choose a variety of lines and attack angles around the golf course that best fits the individual’s game and ability. Should golfers find themselves out of position, ridge lines running across fairways may help save the errant shot while the greens and green surrounds incorporate useful side boards, backstops, on grade approaches and other subtle nuances to encourage shot creativity and a variety of recovery options.

Lakewood National

The Rosen Shingle Creek course in Orlando—the closest golf course to the tourist Mecca of International Drive—has reopened after a massive renovation at the hands of APDC architect Thad Layton. Shingle Creek has always been a favorite of the local crowd, an uninterrupted golf experience set inside a spacious and pristine native Florida landscape, but the renovation has made the course significantly more playable and interesting for golfers of all standards.

The project was driven by the desire of owner Rosen Hotels and Resort to expand the Shingle Creek hotel from 1,500 to 2,100 rooms. Layton’s renovation has added three entirely new holes to the course, including the dramatic par five thirteenth, which features a canal all the way up the left side of the hole. Golfers seeking to reach the green in two must play as close to the canal as they dare to set up the second shot to the narrow but very deep green, hemmed in on both sides by strong mounding and bunkers.

“Through years of banal marketing, golfers now cringe at the term “resort golf” as it has become synonymous for a predictably ordinary golf course. Play one and you’ve played them all,” said Layton “We set out to do something resolutely different at Shingle Creek. Orlando is a golf town and our back yard. As such, we sought to build a golf course that would inspire and challenge every type of golfer. Through a hands on approach and countless hours on site, we handcrafted a golf course with design features reminiscent of some of the finest classic golf courses in the world.”

These features include a variety of green shapes and sizes with a relatively large amount of contour, more than one way to get the ball close when off the green, and width that matters, with a decided advantage to one side of the corridor. Bunkers on centerlines, risk reward carries, green orientations, and pin positions will in most cases dictate the correct side of the fairway to use.

Shingle Creek

APDC senior architect Thad Layton attended the recent inaugural Scottish Design Masters conference in Inverness, and gave a presentation on the plans for the Arnold Palmer Tribute Course at the nearby Castle Stuart resort, currently in planning (we’ll have more on Castle Stuart in the next issue of this newsletter.

Thad’s presentation, which focused on APDC’s design philosophy and how the new course will reflect that, was well received by delegates at the conference, who had come from as far afield as Australia and Canada to attend.


He explained how the company’s four design pillars—variety, beauty, strategy and context—come together to produce a golf course that is fun for all standards of player. The 210 acre site has fifty feet of elevation change and is characterised by sandy loam soils, ideal for shaping into links-style landforms that will promote a ground-based game and play firm and bouncy.

The site’s visual ‘anchors’, Thad told the conference, include the castle itself, which dates from 1625 and which sits between the planned third and seventeenth holes, a copse of oak trees that sits on an ancient burial mound and adjoins the eighth and ninth holes, a number of burns and ancient dry stone walls.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational, played at Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge, his Florida base for decades, will be an emotional time for all. The week kicked off with the unveiling of a 13-foot high statue of the King by renowned sculptor Bruce Wolfe with several events honoring his philanthropic missions and charitable legacy scheduled through out the week.

Top players including defending champion Jason Day, FedEx Cup holder Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler will be among the field at Bay Hill while Mr. Palmer will be succeeded as tournament host by five people: PGA Tour golfer Graeme McDowell, former LPGA star Annika Sorenstam, former PGA Tour players Peter Jacobsen and Curtis Strange, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. A treasure trove of memorabilia accumulated by Arnold Palmer during his Hall of Fame career will be on display at Bay Hill.

Talking about the Bay Hill course, APDC architect Thad Layton said: "Mr. Palmer sought to better separate good shots from great ones. Since a major renovation in 2009, the course abounds with greenside recovery options and is infused with new strategy, added beauty and visual impact. The bunkering is dramatic and the greens have additional pinnable area to provide an array of set up options to test the world's best.  The post-2009 Bay Hill consistently delivers drama as players find it difficult to run away from the field. Six of the last seven tournaments have been decided by two strokes or less."

Mr. Palmer’s grandson Sam Saunders, who will be playing at Bay Hill, said: “It's going to be a big week. It's really going to be a celebration more so than it is a bunch of sadness. My grandfather had a great life and really did some wonderful things. It's our opportunity to have a week where we are front and center in the golfing world.”

Arnold Palmer Invitational

Upcoming Projects for APDC

Franklin Hills, Connecticut – 18 holes new build – in progress
Ironwood Grand Cayman – 18 hole new build – breaks ground summer 2017
Naples Lakes CC, Florida – 18 hole renovation – breaks ground spring 2017
Oakhurst Links at The Greenbrier, West Virginia –18 hole new build – in progress
Royal Golf Club Lake Elmo, Minnesota – 18 hole remodel – opens summer 2017
Silver Rock Resort, California – multi-hole renovation – in progress
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