50th Anniversary Golden Nugget of the Week: First Golf Course in The Landings

By Richard Burke
50th Anniversary History Subcommittee

The first golf course in The Landings, which opened in July of 1974, was designed by Arnold Palmer and Frank Duane (pictured at right). Arnold, or course, is legendary. But who was Frank Duane...the guy who did most of the actual design work? Answer: A kid from the Bronx!

Born in 1921, Francis J. Duane graduated from the State University of New York in 1944, with a degree in landscape architecture. Within a year he joined Robert Trent Jones and quickly became his chief assistant, designing courses with him for almost 20 years. In 1963, Duane decided to launch a solo practice, but that effort was aborted two years later when he was bitten by an insect and stricken with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a debilitating disease that soon confined him to a wheelchair. It’s at this point that he joined with Arnold Palmer, working with him on many courses including Marshwood.

Paul Fullmer, Executive Secretary Emeritus of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), writes in Presidents I Have Known, “Frank Duane’s life was a Profile in Courage.The big, burly guy was all guts and you had to love him. He worked before the term ‘project architect’ was coined by the media to identify the architect of record’s associate who was the lead person on the project. Obviously, he did many high-profile jobs with both Jones and Palmer that added much luster to his career.”

As his illness progressed, it became impossible for him to travel to sites, and he finished his career doing small jobs from his home in Port Washington, New York. Frank was elected into ASGCA as a member in 1964 and as ASGCA President in 1972. He was elected as a Fellow of the organization in 1991, and served as a member of the Society for 30 years until his death in 1994.