Chris Millard 82 teams
up with his friend, the legendary Jack Nicklaus, to publish
a book on golf course design.
Paul E. Kandarian
who plays golf knows the feeling: You have the best game
of your life and praise your mastery of
the courses layout. Or you play as if its the
first time you picked up a club and spend your time at the
19th hole grousing in your beer about all those miserable
bunkers you seemed to be finding yourself in all day.
At the root of all golfers delight and
demise is designhow the course is laid out and why.
And nobody does design much better than Jack Nicklaus, aka The
Golden Bearthe visionary behind more than 200
courses worldwide, winner of 71 official PGA tour victories,
including 20 majors, five-time winner of the PGA Player of
the Year Award and Golf Magazines proclaimed Player
of the Century.
And friend of Chris Millard 82.
Nicklaus and Millard have teamed up to write
a coffee-table book, Nicklaus by Design: Golf Course Strategy
and Architecture (Harry N. Abrams, Inc.), due in bookstores
in November, with a foreword by Pete Dye, a top amateur player
in the 1950s and himself an esteemed golf course designer.
Millard was covering the Senior PGA Tour for Golf
World magazine in the early 1990s when he struck up
a friendship with Nicklaus, who eventually asked Millard
to become his director of communicationsa position
he held for two years before becoming executive editor
at Senior Golfer magazine. Prior to his work in
communications, Millard taught school at Mater Dei, a Catholic
boys school outside Washington, D.C., where fellow
Holy Cross alumnus, Ned Williams 83, is now headmaster.
He had also worked for his dad, Charles E.F. Millard 54.
Around 1996, I brought the idea to Jack
about doing a book on golf course design, says Millard,
now vice president of business development for Kestrel Communications
in Atlanta, a TV production company that specializes in sports
television and produces, among other things, Sports Century
programs for ESPN. Hed just released his autobiography.
That was a great book but dealt very little with his enormously
successful design career. He thought it was a good idea.
But, Millard says, thats where the hard
part started because, amazingly, even with the power of the
Nicklaus name and reputation behind the project, it was hard
finding a publisher. In 1997, when Millard and Nicklaus amicably
parted professional ways and Millard went to Senior Golfer,
he continued to hunt for a publisher.
When I left Jacks company I looked
at him and said, Is the book still on?and
he said, Absolutely, Millard explains. I
really started in earnest to approach publishers and try
pushing this rock up the hill. He finally found a welcoming
editor at Harry N. Abrams, Inc. in 1999, who, Millard says, couldnt
believe anyone would have turned this down. They jumped all
With a contract hammered out by early 2001
but with Millard living in Atlanta and Nicklauss packed
schedule, finding the time to get together became the key
issue. But the Golden Bear made the time, Millard says.
Jack was absolutely great to work withhes
been a real partner, Millard says. Time was tough,
but we did most of the work on his plane. For instance hed
be flying from Florida to Wisconsin. I would go with him
and wed work, then visit the site and fly back and
work some morewhich added up to about six hours of
his complete attention. That was the primary way we did this
He also met with Nicklaus at his North Palm
Beach office and at his home and did some follow-up sessions
over the phone.
My job in research was making sure whatever
Jack said I could back up, Millard explains. He
has designed over 200 courses and has an unbelievable memory
but as powerful as it is, I had to make sure everything he
said was accurate. If he said a par 3 in Malaysia was 189
yards, I had to make sure of it.
For his part, Nicklaus is delighted to have
worked with his friend on the book, pointing out that Millard knows
me and he knows the game. Plus, he can write. He did a nice
job of putting my thoughts into readable words.
Millard also worked closely with Dye, a former
insurance man with no background in golf course design who
developed an interest in it later in life. Dye and Nicklaus
became friends over the years and designed courses together,
their first joint effort being Harbour Town Golf Links at
a mecca of golfing in the United States, Hilton Head, S.C.
The book contains 155 striking color photos
and an assortment of other illustrations, including some
Nicklaus scrawls on a napkin that eventually turned into
the 17th hole at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. It also
covers the gamut of design, Millard says, from Breaking
Ground, which outlines how Nicklaus got into design,
to philosophy to how a golf course is createdstarting
when shovel hits dirt to opening day.
Nicklaus and Millard also cover Great
Golf Holes, tournament courses and the future of golf
In the Elements of Design chapter,
Millard says, Jack looks at tees, fairways, hazards
and bunkers almost like pieces of a puzzle; he tells us his
thinking about how he designs, why he puts bunkers where
he puts them.
Golf course design is very important
to me; its more than a business, its a passion, Nicklaus
says. So any time I have the chance to talk about design
with someone whos knowledgeable and interested, I enjoy
As for working with Chris, hes
been great, Nicklaus adds. Most importantly,
he cares about golf course design, too, and I think thats
why the book works so well.
While Nicklaus has written other books, this
is Millards first, though hes no stranger to
writing. In his golf-writing career he has been published
in Golf Digest, Golf World, GOLF Magazine and The
New York Times. He has won three awards from the Golf
Writers Association of America.
Millard describes the interesting dynamic in
this project: Its a coffee-table book, which
was kind of hard. Not only do you have to get the words right,
but youre dependent on quality photography. Getting
the right pictures with the right words can be tough. And,
on top of that, you have to make sure Jacks happy with
all of it, which he was, Millard says. I dont
think my next book will be a coffee-table book, but Id
absolutely love to do more books, maybe biographies.
Without a doubt, Millard says, his love for
writing got a major boost from the Colleges Associate
Professor of English Helen M. Whall, with whom he had studied
in a first-year course, Critical Reading and Writing.
A lot of times, writers are hesitant
to believe in themselvesespecially when youre
young. Youre afraid to admit you want to be a writer
because you think people will look at you like you have eight
heads, Millard says. I thought I wanted to be
a writer, but Im sure I kept it internalized for awhile
until I met Helen. She instilled so much confidence in me.
Millard wrote Whall a note a couple years ago
to thank her for her encouragement. Ill never
forget her, he says.
Millard praises the entire English department
at the College, describing, in particular, recently retired
Professor Thomas M.C. Lawlor as superb.
I also took a lot of fine arts courses,
and theres a similar dynamic that takes place when
someone who is ostensibly objective affirms your creativity.
Its a very empowering thing, he says. In
particular, Terri Priest, of the visual arts department,
was a strong influence.
Millard says he looks back with gratitude on
his Holy Cross experience, with so many good people
and good classesa strong curriculum. I was able to
study some Latin, brush up on Spanish, take some music courses.
In all, it was a very eye-opening and affirming experience
for four years.
While at Holy Cross, Millard played rugby rather
than golf. Now a 12 handicapper, he manages to whack the
golf ball around when he can these days, prompting Nicklaus
to joke, I havent seen him hit a ball in a few
years. I think its safe to say that as a golfer, hes
a very good writer.
Above all, Millard says, he attributes his
lifelong love of the sport and his success in writing about
it, to his dad, who served on the Colleges Board of
Trustees over the years.
He got us all into golf, and hell
always be my favorite person to play with, Millard
says. This book would not have happened without him.
I wouldnt have had the interest in golf. All the enjoyment
Ive had in and around the sport is because of my father.
Paul Kandarian is a free-lance writer from Taunton,