Next best thing: Rob Collins, a fresh face in course design

Golf’s future isn’t just in the hands of Tour newbies like Joaquin Niemann, Sam Burns and Cameron ChampThis season —and for seasons to come — the sport is going to look, feel and play different. Here are our picks for the best and brightest players, personalities and technology to look forward to in 2019 and beyond.

Rob Collins

Course designer Rob Collins, photographed at Sweetens Cove Golf Club.

 

NEXT BEST THING: A CHANGE IN COURSE … DESIGNERS

Rob Collins was fighting for his big break, and it finally arrived — in an unlikely form. He and his course-design partner Tad King took an insolvent nine-hole golf course on a flat, featureless flood plain in rural Tennessee and turned it into an imaginative, eye-popping revelation. The result, Sweetens Cove Golf Club, opened in 2014 and has become a gold standard for modern nine-hole innovative design.

Collins, 43, has achieved cult-hero status as hype builds around Sweetens. Now his firm has been called to bid against more renowned designers for gigs. “We’ve scrapped for every bit of work we’ve gotten,” Collins says, “and we bring that mindset to every potential new project. People appreciate it.” Prospective sites are cropping up across the country, from Zac Blair’s Buck Club in Utah and New York’s Hudson Valley Golf to the Carolinas, Texas, Michigan and more.