Golf Design Guru: Jay Blasi ’00

The U.S. Open in 2015 took place at Chambers Bay near Seattle. Badger Jay Blasi, a 2015 winner of the Forward Under 40 award was the project architect for that course. 

UW Major: Landscape Architecture
Age: 36 | Los Gatos, California
Golf course architect and founder of Jay Blasi Design

Jay Blasi doesn’t just have his eye on the ball. He has his eye on the green — and he has for as long as he can remember.

Even as a toddler, the Madison native played on his family’s backyard putting green, which his father built under the guidance of noted College of Agricultural and Life Sciences alum Monroe Miller ’68. As a teen, Blasi told the local newspaper that his career goal was “to design a course that will play host to the U.S. Open.”

And Blasi’s dream came true when Chambers Bay, a Washington golf course that he helped design, was chosen for the 2015 U.S. Open. It’s the first new golf course in forty-five years to host the championship, and it makes Blasi one of the youngest contributing golf architects to ever design a U.S. Open course.

“The site for the course was a former sand and gravel mine on the shores of Puget Sound,” he says. “From a golf standpoint, this was exciting because the land, soil, and climate were just right for creating a true links course. Links golf is rare in the U.S. and embraces the origins of the game. From an environmental standpoint, this was an exciting project because we had a chance to reclaim a degraded landscape.”

Since it opened in 2007, Chambers Bay has raked in accolades, including being named by LINKS Magazine as the number one municipal course and the number two most eco-friendly course in America.

“There is not a golf architect alive who has achieved such brilliant success on their first major project,” notes one of Blasi’s clients, Mike Pettit of the Santa Ana Country Club in California.

Blasi credits the University of Wisconsin for bringing his family together — he’s a fourth-generation Badger, and both his grandparents and parents met on campus — and for introducing him to golf. He worked at University Ridge during high school, and during college he designed a hypothetical second course at University Ridge as part of a yearlong independent-study project with Professor James LaGro, Jr. After graduation, Blasi landed his dream job at Robert Trent Jones II, a world-renowned golf design firm where he worked on Chambers Bay, among other projects.

But after the economic downturn, like many others in the industry, Blasi found himself looking for work. Undaunted, he started his own firm in 2012 and has been busy with projects in California, Wisconsin, and Illinois ever since, including his biggest project to date, a major renovation of Sentry- World in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where Blasi collaborated with Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

Blasi also shares his knowledge back home. He has lectured on golf architecture for the Department of Landscape Architecture, spoken at a national conference of landscape architecture students held in Madison, and currently serves on the Landscape Architecture Alumni Board.

“In the years to come, I hope to make a positive impact on the game of golf, the environment, and the lives of others by designing timeless courses that capture the hearts and souls of all those who visit them,” he says. “And I will do so wearing Badger red.”

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