The Top 10 Female Golf Course Architects

Ida Dixon

Very likely the first woman architect in the U.S. (if not the world), Dixon is responsible for Springhaven Club, a private club in Wallingford, Pennsylvania, that opened in 1904. Dixon also was president of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia from 1911-16, which has held a tournament in her honor since 1917. Among the winners of the Ida E. Dixon Cup was Glenna Collett Vare, in 1918.

Marion Hollins

An excellent player, Hollins won the 1921 U.S. Women’s Amateur and captained the U.S. team in the first Curtis Cup, in 1932. She developed Cypress Point Club and Pasatiempo Golf Club, hiring Alister MacKenzie to design both. MacKenzie once sent Hollins to Augusta National on a site visit, referring to her as his “associate,” but her most significant contribution to golf architecture was suggesting that the 16th hole at Cypress become a par three across the Pacific.

Molly Gourlay

Another fine player—she won the English Ladies Amateur, French Open, Belgian Open, and Swedish Ladies Amateur, all in the 1920s—and captain of the British Curtis Cup team three times, Gourlay worked with Tom Simpson in renovating the Old Course at Ballybunion in 1936 as well as Carlow and County Louth, both in Ireland, soon after. She is also credited with helping Simpson design Schloss Mittersill GC in Austria in 1936.

Alice Dye

A nine-time Indiana Amateur champion, two-time U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champ, and member of the 1970 Curtis Cup team, Dye has worked extensively with husband Pete on courses like Harbour Town, Crooked Stick, and Teeth of the Dog, and is credited for coming up with the idea for the island green at the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass. She also is, as the Dye Designs website puts it, “the leading crusader for making courses manageable for women.”

Jan Beljan

After more than 20 years working as a senior designer for Tom Fazio, Beljan (the second woman elected to the American Society of Golf Course Architects, after Alice Dye) now runs her own firm. Over the last few years, she has done restoration and renovation work primarily in Florida at clubs such as Pelican’s Nest in Bonita Springs and The Hideaway CC in Fort Myers.

Nancy Lopez

The winner of 48 LPGA titles including three major championships, plus every other accolade in women’s golf, Lopez designed a 27-hole course that opened in 2001 at The Villages Communities in central Florida. The Lopez Legacy course has three nines, each named for one of her daughters, Ashley, Torri, and Errin.

Jan Stephenson

Generally acknowledged as the first woman pro to turn her hand to architecture, the Australian-born Stephenson—who won 16 LPGA events, including three majors, and many international tournaments in the 1970s and ’80s—interned with Pete and Alice Dye before striking out on her own as an architect. Working with their son Perry Dye, Stephenson designed Walkabout Golf Club in Mims, Florida.

Amy Alcott

The five-time major champion is on the staff of Hanse Golf Course Design and most recently assisted Gil Hanse in designing the 2016 Olympic course in Rio. She has also assisted in two remodels, Indian Canyons in Palm Springs and Brick Landing on the North Carolina coast.

Line Mortensen

The first woman and first Dane to be admitted to the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, Mortensen played junior and youth golf before turning to landscape and course architecture. She has designed three golf courses (including practice areas and 9-holers) in Denmark, and remodeled more than 30 others.

Annika Sorenstam

With 72 LPGA victories including 10 majors and many other titles and awards, Sorenstam was the leading female golfer of the 1990s and early 2000s. Her design firm has completed three projects—one each in China, South Africa, and South Korea—and she currently is working on new ones in Estonia and Turkey.