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World-renowned golf course designer Brian Silva â€™73S, â€™76 returns to campus
â€śCall me crazy, but it was my dream come true to come to UMass Amherst to learn about turf and soil,â€ť says Brian Silva â€™73S, â€™76.
Silva used his education in turf, soil, landscape design, and more to build a remarkable career designing and renovating golf courses. He credits â€śthe cast of great, unforgettable charactersâ€ť and â€śthe unbelievable facilitiesâ€ť at UMass Amherst for much of his success.
Silvaâ€™s father worked in course construction and Silva often sat on his lap while he operated a bulldozer. Through his father, he met the prominent golf course architect, writer, and teacher Geoffrey Cornish â€™50G, â€™87Hon. who advised him to study at UMass Amherst. After college, Silva taught agronomy in Florida and worked for the United States Golf Association before becoming Cornishâ€™s design partner. His first 18-hole design, The Captains Golf Course in Brewster, Massachusetts, was the Golf Digest pick as the countryâ€™s best new public course in 1985.
Since then, Silva has built a reputation for unique layouts designed to be in harmony with the existing environment and to be both fun and challenging to play. He has designed or renovated about 150 courses. His recent work includes Red Tail Golf Club in Devens and Old Marsh Country Club in Wells, Maine. His many rebuilding projects include The Biltmore Golf Club in Coral Gables, Florida, and the Mount Washington Course in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.
Through Brian Silva Design, formed in 2005, he currently has several projects underwayâ€”in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Missouri, and Japan. Another project close to his heart is the Geoffrey and Carol Cornish Fund for Enhanced Learning Opportunities at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture, which Silva is spearheading in honor of his mentor and former business partner. It will provide sponsored internships for Turfgrass Management students.
Silva returned to campus and spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in Memorial Hall this spring as the Eleanor Bateman Alumni Scholar in Residence. After Silvaâ€™s modest account, Geoffrey Cornish gave him his due: â€śGolf course design requires technical and scientific knowledge combined with creativity and vision,â€ť he said. â€śBrian is one of the greatest in the world.â€ť