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James Duncan is the Principal of J. H. Duncan, Golf Course Architects. His career in golf started in Denmark and Scotland but quickly led him to the U.S. to complete his research for civil engineering graduate studies at Cornell University’s Department of Landscape Architecture. There he met Jim Urbina, Gil Hanse and Tom Doak, and subsequently worked on a few of Tom’s Renaissance Golf Design projects including being awarded one of the earliest Donald Ross Society internships. In ’95 James met Ben Crenshaw who was practicing at National Golf Links for the U.S. Open at adjacent Shinnecock Hills. A couple of years later he met Bill Coore, and then landed a chance to participate in the construction of the newly-proposed East Hampton Golf Club, to be designed by Coore & Crenshaw, Inc. Since East Hampton, James has maintained a relationship with Coore & Crenshaw, participating in various roles on their projects from coast to coast in the U.S. and abroad. He occasionally still pitches in here and there, schedules permitting.

The foundation for J. H. Duncan has been laid from these experiences. Never intended to be a large firm, our goal instead is to connect with a few outstanding projects and clients, do good work and try to have some fun along the way. Married with two children, James splits his time between Tucson, Arizona, and the San Francisco Bay Area where he is partnered in the Brambles project.


With Coore & Crenshaw:

  • East Hampton Golf Club. East Hampton, New York  (’98). Participated as glorified gopher, water truck driver, Bill’s dog-sitter and assistant bunker shaper to the living legend, Lord Bradley.

  • Dos Pueblos Golf Links. Santa Barbara, California (’99). Prepared for the start of this highly technical but ultimately ill-fated project on the California coast. First exposure to zoysia grass, at West Coast Turf’s facility in Palm Desert.

  • Austin Golf Club. Spicewood, Texas (’99-’00). Managed construction of Crenshaw’s home course west of Austin. Worked with the formidable team of Alec and Joe Beck, Rose Galvan and Doug Petersan. Second exposure to zoysia grass. Year of Ben’s Brookline Ryder Cup captaincy. Special memories.

  • Hidden Creek Golf Club. Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey (’00-’01). Managed construction of the Hansen family’s new golf project near Atlantic City. Afforded the chance to work in the London heathland style, which was enormously good fun. The South Jersey golf scene is unlike any other. Not many swings are made there without a wager of some sort. Played a fair bit over at Greate Bay (Willie Park, Jr. design) courtesy of Riverfront friend Tom McCarthy and Archie Struthers.

  • Old Sandwich Golf Club. Plymouth, Massachusetts (’01-’02). Represented absentee owner during the construction of this new course. Set up field operations and was the liaison between the absentee owner, a local minority partner and Coore & Crenshaw’s design and construction staff. Worked with Sean McCormick who had been an advisor to Dos Pueblos before moving back to his native Massachusetts to manage the Old Sandwich golf course.

  • Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. Bandon, Oregon (’03).  Worked on clearing and set-up for the Trails course, with Ken Nice, Troy and Tony Russell. Bob “Shoe” Gaspar, the official front man at Bandon Dunes, reports that the trees are still “shaking in their boots” every time James returns to the property.

  • Maharees. Castlegregory, Ireland (’03-’04). Blue Point. Poughkeepsie, New York (’03-’04). Windermere Island Club. Eleuthera, Bahamas (’03-’04). Worked on planning for several unrealized projects—all of which are STILL POSSIBLE IF THERE’S INTEREST.

  • Wykagyl Country Club. New Rochelle, New York (’05-ongoing). Set up and participated in major renovation of this historic course in Westchester, NY. Maintain on-going relationship with Club.

  • Clear Creek Tahoe. Carson City, Nevada (’07-’08). Managed new course build with Landscapes Unlimited as irrigation and drainage contractor.

  • Shanqin Bay. Bo’ao, P. R. China (’09-’12). Complete build-from-scratch in a partnership with Landscapes Unlimited and Forward Management Group. Worked on infrastructure (water, power, access) as well as buildings, roads, bridges, walls and anything else that was needed to help realize this once-in-a-lifetime project on the coast of Hainan Island.

  • Yokohama Country Club. Yokohama, Japan (’12-’16). Set up and participated in major renovation of the championship West Course. Project entailed complete overhaul within existing golf course foot print, importing a significant amount of soil to soften big contours while renovating all golf course features including irrigation and drainage. Third exposure to zoysia grass.


With Renaissance Golf Design:

  • Fitchburg Country Club. Fitchburg, Massachusetts (circa ’96). Participated in bunker renovation.

  • Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Southampton, New York (circa ’96). Participated in putting green renovation (and played a ton of twilight golf that summer…)

  • Riverfront Golf Club. Suffolk, Virginia (’97). Participated in new course construction.

  • Various other small projects plus extensive travels to study courses.

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