Myers to join Hanse Golf Course Design

The Southern Hills superintendent will become part of Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner’s design team.


Aerial view of Ghost Creek golf course
Russ Myers with Southern Hills assistant superintendent Doug Cocanour during preparations for the 2022 PGA Championship. After a stellar career at Southern Hills, Myers is departing to join Gil Hanse at Hanse Golf Course Design. Photo by Scott Hollister

Russ Myers first became a fan of Gil Hanse’s work a couple of decades ago. Myers was visiting then-Plainfield Country Club superintendent Greg James at the Edison, N.J., Donald Ross original design that Hanse had restored. One particular aspect of Hanse’s work struck Myers. “It’s a classic old course. The greens had hard angles and were squared off on the edges. I told Greg, ‘Man, those are so cool,’” Myers says.

This is pretty awesome, too: Come October, Myers will be in Hanse’s world on a daily basis. Myers recently revealed that he is departing Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa to join Hanse and his partner Jim Wagner’s golf design team at Hanse Golf Course Design.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to take the next step,” says Myers, 51, and a 27-year GCSAA member. “Life is only so long. I am grateful for the unique opportunity to work with these guys.”

Since 2016, Myers has been stationed at Southern Hills, where he oversaw the 2022 PGA Championship. Previously, he worked there from 2006-09 and hosted the 2007 PGA Championship. He left that first time 14 years ago for The Los Angeles Country Club and was introduced to Hanse, Wagner and collaborator Geoff Shackelford as they teamed up to restore the club, which went on to host this year’s U.S. Open. It proved providential for Myers to witness Hanse and Wagner’s approach. Myers had another opportunity to see Hanse and Wagner in action five years ago when they arrived at Southern Hills to make changes geared toward replicating the original features of architect Perry Maxwell.

Whether at LACC or Southern Hills, Myers felt he was welcome to voice his thoughts and be himself around Hanse and Wagner. “It was their principles and visions, how they let you (him) think, and you could talk through things with them and help them come up with the best solutions,” Myers says. “The time I spent with them at LA rejuvenated me and how I look at golf course maintenance and made me look at ways how I could do it better as a superintendent. It gave me a clear vision of how I want to manage a golf course. It’s more than color of turf, density, speed. It’s an overall experience that includes all the senses.”

Aerial view of Ghost Creek golf course
Gil Hanse speaking with GCM editor-in-chief Scott Hollister for the GCSAA Podcast at the 2020 GCSAA Conference and Trade Show. Hanse formed his design firm in 1993, and was joined two years later by design partner Jim Wagner with an eye on designing and restoring courses around the world. Photo by Roger Billings

Myers’ partnership with Hanse and Wagner gained steam when they chatted in the not-too-distant past. “Jim and I talked regularly for years, bounced thoughts off each other, and tell funny stories,” says Myers, who recognized the possibilities of working with the firm. “About a month ago we talked for the first time about a potential role with their team. Jim clearly defined the immediate challenges the Hanse team was focused on and had a broader vision on what the long term could look like.

“Partnering with Hanse design team and Caveman Construction team has provided some of my greatest career successes and most enjoyable work experiences. It only made sense to try and capture this history every day moving forward.”

Talks between Myers and the design firm escalated in July when Myers met with Hanse at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth. “I was excited before even speaking with Gil about it. During our conversation, Gil basically laid out a vision beyond my current imagination,” Myers says.

Although Myers isn’t concerned for the moment about his forthcoming title with Hanse and Wagner, he’s already imagining what some of his duties might be. “I plan to do whatever the team needs me to do. Gil, Jim, Ben Hillard, and Kevin Murphy have partnered with the guys from Caveman Construction at an extremely high level for some time now. It’s not my role to get them to adapt to me; I need to learn from all of them and find ways to benefit them. Help get a project started, put a project together, have conversations with on-site people and give the team what they need to provide what’s best for clients,” he says.

Myers and his family (wife Lindsay and son RJ and daughter Grace) will maintain their Tulsa residence. Meanwhile, Myers’ heart stays close to Southern Hills, which he will depart in the leadup to his new job. “I always will value the members, the staff, the relationships there,” he says.

Now, it’s on to a new adventure. You can hear it in Myers’ voice how he feels about it. “I haven’t been this excited in a long time,” he says.

Howard Richman is GCM's associate editor.