Draft:Charles Henry Banks

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Charles Banks (June 3, 1881—March 20, 1931) was a golf course architect. Banks was a protégé of Seth Raynor whom Banks met while Raynor was redesigning the 9-hole course for the Hotchkiss School where Banks worked at the time.

Banks was born in Amenia, N.Y. just across the Connecticut border from Lakeville, where Hotchkiss is located. Banks began attending the prominent preparatory school his sophomore year. He then moved onto Yale University, graduating Hotchkiss in 1906.

After graduation, Banks returned to Hotchkiss where he first served as a teacher of English. He was named head coach of the track team and was also an assistant baseball and football coach. Later, Banks became Hotchkiss’s first fundraiser as well as the first editor of the alumni magazine.[1]

In October of 1923, Raynor visited Hotchkiss for the first time to assess the layout originally designed Robert Pryde. [1]

Once construction began in 1924, Banks was part of a group of Hotchkiss men who acted as a go-between for Raynor and the school. At the same time, construction of the Yale Golf Course was underway, a Raynor design with Charles Blair Macdonald in the role of consultant. In 1922, Raynor also laid out a 9-hole course for the Taft School, an exclusive prep school in Watertown, Conn., which was built after Raynor’s death in 1926.[2]

At some point, Banks became so enamored with golf course design that he left Hotchkiss in the fall of 1925 to join Raynor’s firm, according to the Hotchkiss alumni publication, where he immediately took on a prominent position. In magazine advertisements that began in early 1926, Banks’s name was listed with that of Raynor. No other employee of the Raynor firm received such billing.[3]

1926 magazine ad for golf course architect Seth Raynor and associate Charles Banks.

On Jan. 25, 1926, Raynor died unexpectedly of pneumonia in Palm Beach, Fla., while attend the opening of one of his courses. Banks was tasked with overseeing the completion of some of Raynor’s most prominent work including Fishers Island Club, Blue Mound Country Club, Lookout Mountain Club and Waialae Country Club. Banks never visited the Waialae site.

Banks would go on to design a number of his own layouts before dying of a heart attack at the age of 49. He had just returned to New York from visiting his Castle Harbor layout in Bermuda, which was under construction.

Like Raynor, Banks’s designs revolved around two guiding principles. First of those was the great holes of the British Isles and Europe as identified by Charles Blair Macdonald. They included Eden, Biarrtiz, Redan, Short, Leven, Road, Maiden and Knoll holes. Banks, like Raynor and Macdonald adapted the designs to a specific site, never seeking to copy the orginals. Second, Banks also utilized angles and options to create strategic designs that reward players for successfully challenging hazards or obstacles, while providing safer, albeit longer routes, for the golfer looking to play more conservatively.

Grave marker of golf course architect Charles H. Banks.

Banks also wrote about architecture including a seven-part series for American Golfer magazine in 1930, an in-depth look at the Yale golf course for the school’s alumni magazine in 1925 and 1929 as well as a 1927 piece for the Honolulu Advertiser recounting Raynor’s final days.

Banks was survived by his wife Agnes and a daughter, Janet.[1]

List of Banks courses he either designed or remodeled:

Annapolis Roads (18 planned, 9 built) *NLE, Bannockburn G. Club, Glen Echo, Md. (plans for renovation, most likely not implemented), Cavalier Hotel Golf Course NKA Cavalier Golf and Yacht Club, Caracas (Venezuela) Country Club, Castle Harbor, Bermuda, NKA Tucker’s Point Golf Club, Craigin Park, Fla. (never built), Essex County Country Club, West Orange, N.J., Forsgate Country Club, Monroe Township, N.J., Francis Byrne Golf Course, West Orange, N.J. (public), Hackensack Golf Club (27 holes), Hotchkiss School Golf Course, Lakeville, Conn, (remodel of at least two holes of the Seth Raynor design, public), Indian River Country Club, Vero Beach, Fla. (not built), Montclair Golf Club, West Orange, N.J. (fourth nine), Montclair Golf Club at Rock Spring, West Orange, N.J. (**FKA Rock Spring Country Club), The Knoll Golf Club West, Boonton, N.J. (semi-private), Tamarak Country Club, Greenwich, Conn., Whippoorwill Club, Armonk, N.Y., Wyantenuck Country Club, Great Barrington, Mass. (complete renovation planned, four holes completed before Bank’s death), Westhampton (N.Y.) Country N.Y., (second course) *NLE

*NLE = no longer exists **NKA = now known as

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Hotchkiss Alumni News, March 31, 1931
  2. ^ Taft Papyrus, Oct. 4, 1922
  3. ^ Golf Illustrated February, 1925 USGA.org

Charles Henry Banks[edit]