Colorado Design Firm Changes Names

Twenty-three years and 300-plus golf course projects after founding Richard M. Phelps Ltd., Dick Phelps is officially handing day-to-day operation of the Evergreen-based golf course-architecture firm over to his son, Rick, and fellow designer Kevin Atkinson. The company, which has operated under the name Phelps Golf Design for the past six years, will be renamed Phelps/Atkinson Golf Design.

“I will still be involved in the business, working on one large project at a time, as I have done for the past three to four years,” said former American Society of Golf Course Architects President Dick Phelps, who has 45 years of course-design experience and numerous awards and accolades to his credit. “The new name accurately reflects the growing contributions of these two outstanding young designers to the firm.”

A Colorado Springs native, Dick Phelps worked with architects Brad Benz and Michael Poellot for many years before opening Richard M. Phelps Ltd. 23 years ago. The name changed to Phelps Golf Design six years back to reflect the growing contributions of Rick, an ASGCA member whose designs include Devil’s Thumb Golf Club in Delta, Colo., voted one of the top two Affordable New Courses in the U.S. by Golf Digest.

On July 1, the younger Phelps will open a new company, Phelps Golf Design, LLC, which will be doing business as Phelps/Atkinson Golf Course Design. The new moniker also reflects the extensive contributions of architect Kevin Atkinson, who has been with the Phelps’ design firm for the past seven years.

“Kevin is an extremely talented designer and an invaluable member of our team,” said Rick Phelps. “He certainly deserves to have his name affixed to the letterhead.”

Added Dick Phelps, who splits his time between the firm’s Colorado and Scottsdale, Ariz. offices: “I should be able to take a few more three-day weekends with both Rick and Kevin atop the leader board. Kevin has worked very hard to put himself in this position and deserves the recognition.”

Atkinson, 34, graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture. During college and following graduation, he spent three years with one of the world’s leading course builders, Landscapes Unlimited. While working in the office and in the field with the Lincoln, Neb.-based firm, Atkinson assisted with numerous projects, including Sand Hills Golf Club near Mullen, Neb., voted 12th among America’s Top 100 Courses by Golf Digest.

Atkinson then went to work for Ault, Clark & Associates, a golf-course design firm based outside Washington, D.C. This was during the golf boom of the mid-1990s. Atkinson estimates he was involved in more than 100 courses, including significant input on at least 30 projects during his four years with Ault, Clark. He teamed directly with PGA Tour veteran Curtis Strange on a complete renovation of Bide-A-Wee Golf Club, a Portsmouth, Va., layout selected the most improved course in the country in 2002 by Golf Digest. “I worked on everything from a 45-hole complex at Cahoon Plantation in Chesapeake, Va., to a putting and chipping green at Congressional Country Club in Washington,” Atkinson remembered. “It was a great experience.”

But the urge to return to his Midwestern roots and a long-standing desire to work with Dick Phelps called him back to Colorado. “I interviewed with Dick while I was at Landscapes,” Atkinson recalled. “He was actually downsizing the office at the time, but he still took the time to talk with me. I’ll never forget that. He didn’t know me from a hole in the wall. But he spent two hours with me. Nothing was rushed. He just made me feel extremely comfortable. So, I stayed in touch and eventually the timing was right.”

Atkinson has been a part of multiple projects during his time in the Phelps’ office including: Osgood Golf Course in Fargo, N.D., a unique 12-hole layout that has been successful in attracting and retaining new golfers; the soon-to-open Devil’s Tower Golf Club in Hulett, Wyo.; a nine-hole addition to the Purple Sage Golf Course in Evanston, Wyo.; and significant input on Devil’s Thumb Golf Course and Antler Creek Golf Course near Colorado Springs.

“The dynamic in our office is just great,” Rick Phelps said. “Dad is firmly grounded in the principles of golf course design in terms of function and cost effectiveness. He has experience from hundreds of projects to draw on and will continue to be a major contributor. Kevin is extremely creative, has a great aesthetic eye and will constantly push the envelope of design. My role is often the balance between the other two, but we all contribute to a certain extent on every project we complete. Dad and I look forward to Kevin being a part of that for years to come.”

Headquartered in Evergreen, Colo., with additional offices in Scottsdale, Ariz., Phelps/Atkinson Golf Design has crafted courses in each of the following states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska and Texas. For more information, contact Phelps/Atkinson Golf Design, P.O. Box 3295, Evergreen, CO 80437-3295; telephone 303/670-0478; Fax 303/670-3518; Email