Gil Hanse

Golf Architect

Philadelphia

Gil Hanse is the founder, president and lead designer of Hanse Golf Course Design. As a student at Cornell University, Hanse interned at Hawtree in Great Britain, the longest continuously practicing golf course architectural firm in the world. While there, he formed his philosophy for golf design based on historic courses. Since founding his boutique firm in 1993, Hanse has worked on projects ranging from Castle Stuart Golf Links in Inverness, Scotland, and the Tokyo Golf Club to renovating the Blue Monster at Doral Golf Resort & Spa. In 2012, Hanse won the highly competitive selection process to design the 2016 Olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro. He will partner with Hall of Fame player Amy Alcott to build the first Olympic golf course since the 1904 St. Louis Games.

  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What are Gil Hanse’s favorite bars in Philadelphia?

    We live out in the suburbs, so the local one that we go to is The Flying Pig, which is kind of a fun spot. Bars come and go so frequently. Center City has more of a dining crowd.
     
    Manayunk is a hipper part of town. Manayunk Brewing Company is a big spot there. There’s also a new section of town that’s called Fishtown, which is sort of a young, hipper place.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What are Gil Hanse’s favorite casual restaurants in Philadelphia?

    In Philadelphia, you have to get cheesesteak. And you’re either a Pat’s or Geno’s fan. They are the two rival steakhouses. I’m not going to say which I prefer because I’ll anger half of Philadelphia if I tell you which one.
     
    One of the coolest places to go to eat is the Reading Terminal Market. There are all kinds of stalls and markets with fresh foods and veggies, pastries, fish, cheesesteaks. It’s right near the convention center as well. If you’re in Philly, you want to go to the Reading Terminal Market.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What is Gil Hanse’s favorite time to visit Philadelphia?

    Fall is gorgeous. The weather is usually good and the humidity’s gone. Summer is tough; it gets pretty muggy. Spring is beautiful as well. We don’t have the spectacular sort of New England color show, but it’s pretty good. We still get quite a bit of color that time of year.
     
    No matter what anybody tells you, Philadelphia is an Eagles town. So when it’s football season, people are generally excited about what’s going on. There’s a buzz in the air.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What is Gil Hanse’s favorite time to visit Philadelphia?

    Fall is gorgeous. The weather is usually good and the humidity’s gone. Summer is tough; it gets pretty muggy. Spring is beautiful as well. We don’t have the spectacular sort of New England color show, but it’s pretty good. We still get quite a bit of color that time of year.
     
    No matter what anybody tells you, Philadelphia is an Eagles town. So when it’s football season, people are generally excited about what’s going on. There’s a buzz in the air.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What are Gil Hanse’s favorite things to do in Philadelphia?

    There’s a lot of really cool, beautiful things to see in Center City. At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you can look like an idiot, run up the steps and do the Rocky thing and jump around. The museum is fabulous.
     
    You have to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It’s amazing how many important things happened in that very small area. As an American, you’re proud to be down there. We don’t go there unless we’re taking somebody there, but we’re always happy when we do take people there.
     
    At Christmas, there’s always been a tradition at Wanamaker’s, an old department store in downtown, and now it’s a Macy’s. It has this light show inside and it’s very retro, traditional. The Comcast Center, which is only a couple years old, has this amazing light display inside. It’s like an entire wall that’s maybe 50 feet tall and 100 feet wide. It’s a series of flat-screen TV panels, but much more complicated than that.
     
    I recommend seeing our sports teams, too. Philadelphians are very passionate about sports, so it would be kind of fun to go see the Phillies or the Eagles. The dining scene downtown is great as well. The Franklin Institute is great if you have kids — go for science and history and learning.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What does Gil Hanse wear when he travels?

    I’m usually pretty easy to identify as a golfer. Usually, I’ll have on khakis and a golf shirt and a sweater or something like that. I always wear loafers because they’re easy to slide on and off in security. I don’t get dressed up for flying. I just want to be comfortable. I definitely look like a golf geek.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What’s the best trip Gil Hanse has ever taken?

    When our oldest was a junior in college, she spent a semester in Rome. She had been there for about three months and the rest of us went over for Thanksgiving. She knew the landscape and she knew the language and all the great little restaurants, and we had the best time ever. Rome in November is not crowded; we didn’t wait in line for anything. The weather was beautiful. It was 65 degrees and didn’t rain.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What does Gil Hanse always travel with?

    I’m an Apple guy. I just tend to do an awful lot of word processing stuff, so I have a MacBook Pro, which I know is heavier than an iPad, but it has everything that I need. I have an iPhone with the music on it. Those are critical. I try my best not to check a bag, just because you don’t want to stand around and wait, and timing is everything.
     
    When we have projects, I’ll leave clothes there so I don’t have to bring an awful lot. I don’t have to bring toiletries. I don’t have to bring those sorts of things. When we were building a course in Scotland, I would get off the plane in Philadelphia, go through immigration and just walk through customs and they would look at me — twice I got taken for extra questioning. They asked, “How come you don’t have a bag?” Well, I’ve got an apartment in Scotland and I leave clothes there. My critical things to travel with are the Bose headphones, the iPhone with my music on it and my MacBook.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What are Gil Hanse’s favorite restaurants?

    In Philadelphia, Osteria, which is a Marc Vetri restaurant in the city, is a favorite. Locally we’ve got this really great little Italian place called Alba in Malvern. The chef there is terrific. And I will give you a disclaimer: Our son who’s 19 wants to be a chef, that’s his passion. He’s in Copenhagen right now interning at NOMA. It’s fun having a 19-year-old son who’s a food snob because he turns you on to some really good restaurants. Per Se is at the top of the list.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What are Gil Hanse’s favorite hotels?

    This is a cool story. The Tokyo Golf Club was originally right in Tokyo, it had to move out in the early ’30s and hire a British architect. While he was there designing the golf course, he was put in the Imperial Hotel, which was a Frank Lloyd Wright building.
     
    On the final night when we had just completed our work on the Tokyo Golf Club, I was put at the Imperial. The original architect stayed there, and now they put me up in the same hotel. It’s not the same building; it’s obviously been changed. The level of service there was phenomenal. That’s probably as wonderful of a hotel experience I’ve had — not only the level of service, but also just because of the experience there.
     
    I did stay at the Amanyara resort in Turks and Caicos. We were looking at possibly doing a project there. That was out-of-this-world incredible. Unfortunately, it never built a golf course so it didn’t lead to anything.
  • On November 26, 2012
    Gil Hanse answered the question: Gil Hanse

    What are Gil Hanse’s favorite cities to visit?

    San Francisco. There’s just no place more beautiful. Generally, it has great food and great wine, spinning up into Napa and Monterey. I love Northern California.
     
    Boston has always been a fun town. We’ve done a lot of work in Boston, so I enjoy being there. I grew up outside of New York — all my sports teams and all my family are from New York — so whenever I’m there, I enjoy that. And Philadelphia is obviously home, and we’ve grown very fond of it.
     
    Outside of the country, we did work at Tokyo Golf Club, and I like Tokyo a lot. I also like Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s a very manageable city. We’ve built a couple courses there. I love the Scots — they’re just friendly and fun.
     
    I’m learning to appreciate Rio. It’s obviously a very large city with a lot of complexities and issues with the disparity between wealth and poverty. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a city that’s as dynamic and moving as Rio. And I’m hopeful that a year or 18 months from now, I’ll be saying, “Yeah, Rio, we had the greatest time of our lives down there. And it was just a fantastic place to be.”