Yale Golf Club

Fully absorbed in our performance, as we make our way around the course, we are rarely aware of the changes that are taking place as we play and how we affect the course. We tend to view golf the course as a permanent, rocklike structure. But that is far from the truth. The course is fragile and subject to the wear and tear of the elements and all who play it and work on it. The course is in constant change, especially at its edges-where the land is pierced open, the bunkers. Yale’s bunkers, renowned for their dramatic scale are particularly vulnerable.

Over the years Yale’s bunkers deteriorated, banks caved in, drainage failed, sand was contaminated and many had lost their definition and were no longer true to the original Macdonald design. Roger Rulewich, Yale class of 58 was called in to help. During his undergraduate years at Yale, Roger played the course many times. Even at that time, long before the seeds of golf course architecture as a career were planted, he was aware of Yale’s historical value as a prime example of early American golf course architecture.

With Roger leading the project, a plan was developed to restore the existing bunkers and replace a number of bunkers that were removed many years ago to ease play. Considerable research went into development of the plans, archives were scoured for early photographs and drawings to help retain the integrity of Macdonald’s original steep, cavernous bunkers. At the same time Roger was aware that changes were necessary to accommodate contemporary golf needs and expedite care of the bunkers. Subtle but vital modifications were made to banks without losing any of Yale’s monumental appearance. These changes permit the use of modern machinery and that ultimately reduce maintenance costs. The highlight of the project was the replacement of the volcanic-like bunker in front of Yale’s twelfth green. Long thought to be too difficult for the average golfer, the new bunker returned power to the original hole. The Yale golf community took easily to the additional challenge of the restored bunkers, and now that project is completed-they are enjoying the improvements.

We applaud the Roger Rulewich Group for their insightfulness and diligence in the restoration. Roger, personally gave much more of his personal attention than anyone would expect. He began the process of moving the Yale Course into the twenty first century, gave us a new look, yet retained every challenge that Macdonald subscribed to and secured Yale’s reputation as one of the finest courses in the world.

David Patterson, Director of golf Emeritus, Yale Varsity Golf Coach.