Special to the Observer
The William K. and Natalie O. Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame was dedicated Monday and is open to the public beginning today.
The private dedication ceremony featured a blessing of the course by University president Father Edward Malloy and remarks from the designer, professional golfer Ben Crenshaw.
The course is named in honor of the parents of Notre Dame alumnus William Warren Jr., of Tulsa, Okla., who chairs a foundation founded by his father that made a $7 million gift to underwrite construction of the course.
Warren and other benefactors participated in a private, opening-day outing. Joining Warren in the first foursome was Crenshaw, Father William Beauchamp, executive vice president of the University and Stephen Warren, son of the donor.
A 1956 graduate of Notre Dame, Warren is the chairman of the board of the William K. Warren Foundation and Warren American Oil Company. His varied business interests involve oil and gas exploration and production, real estate and investments in common stock securities. Warren serves on the advisory council for the Mendoza College of Business and is member of the University's Edward Frederick Sorin and John Cardinal O'Hara Societies.
Warren's father, William Warren Sr., preceded his son as a member of the business college's advisory council from 1949-1986. A pioneering Oklahoma oilman, he founded Warren Petroleum Company in 1922 and merged it with Gulf Oil in 1956. He established the family's charitable foundation in 1945 and lived to age 92, dying in 1990. Natalie Warren supported numerous Tulsa civic organizations and was active in the family's foundation until her death at the age of 97 in 1996.
In addition to the Warren Foundation's $7-million gift, Warren and his family made a benefaction to underwrite the construction of the clubhouse dining room, pro shop and the first hole.
Warren, Jr., is an avid golfer who is a member of the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., home of the Master's Tournament and Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, which will host the U.S. Open for the third time.
While serving as president of the board of Southern Hills in 1991, Warren worked closely with Crenshaw and his partner, Bill Coore, the designers of the club's West Nine Course. That association led to the selection of Crenshaw and Coore as the designers of the new Notre Dame course.
Located on 250 wooded acres adjacent to the northeast corner of the Notre Dame campus, the Warren Golf Course incorporates traditional elements of the great golf courses of the late 19th and 20th centuries.
Perhaps the most distinguishing — and certainly unusual — characteristic is that there is no par for the course. Like one of the world's most traditional golf courses, Muirfield in Scotland, only the yardage is posted for each hold of the Warren Golf Course, allowing players to attack the course from their own perspective and without the preconceived notions inherent to par.
Other features are rectangular and square tee boxes that provide a classic start to each hole, undulating greens of varying shapes and constructed in a push-up style hat slopes from back to front, false fronts to most greens that allow the option of running the ball to the flag and strategically placed bunkers that visually enhance each hole while challenging players to proceed with caution.
The Warren Golf Course spans 6,744 yards from the back tees, 6,346 yards from the middle tees and 5,302 yards from the forward tees. It includes 86 bunkers, as well as water — in the form of two lakes and Juday Creek — on six holes. It also has a driving range and putting greens.
The Notre Dame men's and women's golf teams will make the Warren course their home.
A 7,000-square-foot clubhouse, built in a French country style, features Warren Grille, which offers a wide selection of specialty sandwiches and beverages and a pro shop with a variety of golf merchandise.
Environmental safeguards were a priority in the design and construction of the course and included more than $500,000 for improvements to and monitoring of Juday Creek.
The course's designers, Crenshaw and Coore, founded their architectural firm in 1986. Based in Austin, Texas, it has established a reputation for creating courses based on traditional, strategic golf.
In addition to numerous renovation projects, Coore and Crenshaw, Inc., has designed the Barton Creek Club in Austin; the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii; the Sand Hills Golf Club near Mullen, Neb.; the New Town Golf Club in Indonesia; Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz.; the East Hampton Golf Club on Long Island; and nine-hole additions to Southern Hills and Onion Creek Country Club in Austin, Texas.
In a career that spans three decades, Crenshaw has recorded 19 PGA Tour Victories, including the 1984 and 1995 Masters. He was captain of the 1999 U.S. Ryder Cup team that made a remarkable comeback to defeat the Europeans at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.
Coore began his professional design and construction career in 1972 with the noted golf course architect Pete Dye. He formed his own company in 1982 before joining forces with Crenshaw four years later.
The Warren Golf Course is directed by Brian Godfrey, who was appointed PGA director of golf and general manager in 1998 after serving for the previous four years as head professional and general manager at the award-winning Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Ind. A native of Michigan City, Ind., Godfrey has completed three phases of the PGA Business School and is a Class A member of the PGA.
Rieth-Reilly Construction Company of South Bend moved some 100,000 yards of dirt in shaping the Warren Golf Course, and Ziolkowski Construction, Inc., of South Bend was principal contractor for the course's buildings and other structures.
In addition to the Warren Foundation and Bill Warren, other benefactors have contributed to the construction of the course with other gifts for the holes, the varsity golf complex, driving range, putting green, scoreboard, clubhouse patio, and starter's cottage.
Notre Dame students, faculty, staff and alumni will pay reduced greens fees and may schedule tee times on the Warren Golf Course two weeks in advance.
The public may request tee times one week in advance. Special schedules will be in place during the football season.
Notre Dame will continue to operate its nine-hole course on the southwest side of campus.
All News Stories for Tuesday, May 2, 2000