Club Med

For Keith Foster, doctoring golf courses is all about staying out of the way

This week, Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will play host to the U.S. Open while doubling as testament to Foster's finest hour--his first effort on such a grand stage. He toiled and tinkered for nearly seven months to ensure it would be everything he'd promised, to prepare the course for a gathering of everyone who is anyone in the golf world. The forum, the opportunity, then, was both incredible and intimidating.

"Some wonderfully talented men interviewed for Southern Hills," he admits. "For me to even be included, and then to be chosen, was amazing. When they hired me, a little bit of me shook. I mean, this is the U.S. Open. This is Southern Hills. It's a rush."

Some golfers now complain that architects like Foster are altering courses too dramatically--witness the record-length 642-yard No. 5 hole at Southern Hills. He disputes this, saying the changes in Tulsa weren't as radical as some might suspect or fear.

Foster grants an interview: “The important thing was to leave my ego. I mean, who am I?”
Foster grants an interview: “The important thing was to leave my ego. I mean, who am I?”

"Working on Southern Hills was a little bit different than the work I did at Colonial. It was a sensitive restoration. If it was a painting, it was like I was asked to take the frame off, touch it up so that no one knew I was there and be done with it without leaving the trace of a fingerprint. It was gratifying and difficult. I had to be quick to remember that it wasn't my golf course. I was given the opportunity to work there. That's it. In my humble estimation, I left it the way it was but improved the areas I was called on to improve. I remembered that I'm not important, the course is. I'm most pleased about that."

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