Office History

  • Design PhilosophyOffice HistoryRick Phelps - resumeKevin Atkinson - resumeDick Phelps - resumeDave Smith - resume
  • Dick Phelps began his career in golf course design as a Landscape Architect in Ames, Iowa. After graduating with a Masters Degree in 1961, and working an internship with Robert Bruce Harris in Chicago, Dick began work with a landscape architecture firm based in Minneapolis. By 1966, Dick had designed a number of golf courses and was in charge of all of the firm’s golf course projects. He opened a branch office in his home state of Colorado in late 1967.

    For the next six years, he served as President of Phelps, Brauer & Associates and was responsible for a staff of as many as sixteen design professionals doing landscape architecture and golf course design. In 1973, Dick left the firm to concentrate solely in the field of golf course architecture. In 1980, Dick was proud to serve as President of the prestigious American Society of Golf Course Architects. By 1983, he had formed his own corporation and has been President of Richard M. Phelps, Ltd. (d.b.a. Phelps Golf Course Design) ever since.

    Dick has a total of over 75 golf courses he has designed that are currently open for play. He has consulted on at least 300 other golf course projects of every shape and size over his celebrated career.

    Dick has won several awards as a speaker and educator on the subject of golf course design and has been honored by his election into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame. The firm’s designs have received numerous honors including multiple Golf Digest “Best New” award winners, many courses that appear on “places to play” lists and at least one “top ten” course in each of the following states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Colorado, North Dakota, Nebraska and Texas. In fact, the Dallas Morning News has five Phelps courses listed among the top 25 municipal courses in the state of Texas.

    Dick’s son, Rick Phelps, became interested in golf course design at the age of eight. Rick would accompany his father on site visits to help with field staking and observation of the shaping and construction. In his teenage years, Rick assisted with drafting and other general office duties. Rick went on to get his Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design from the University of Colorado in 1989.

    Rick spent 18 months in the St. Louis office of Hale Irwin Golf Design, at a time when the Phelps firm co-designed six different courses with Hale. Rick has designed a total of eight golf courses that are now open for play and has consulted on at least 50 other projects during his budding career. He was elected as a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects in 1999.

    Kevin Atkinson joined the Phelps firm in 1999. As a competitive golfer since his childhood, Kevin also knew at an early age that he wanted to design golf courses. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Nebraska in 1994. While completing school, Kevin worked for Landscapes Unlimited handling drafting, estimating, field construction and other duties.

    In 1995, Kevin joined the firm of Ault, Clark & Associates in Maryland. After four years working throughout the eastern United States, Kevin joined the Phelps’ in order to get back closer to his home.

    Kevin has completed five new golf courses during his career that are currently open for play and has consulted on over forty golf course projects of varying size and scope.

    In 2004, Dave Smith joined the Phelps Golf Course Design team. Dave’s background is based in Colorado where he attended Colorado State University and received a B.F.A. in Graphic Design, he currently plays to 1 handicap and competes in various state golf events.

    His start in the Golf Design industry began in 1988 when he began working for Dye designs as a Graphic Artist and Draftsman. In 1990 he went to work for JMP Golf Design in Saratoga, California. There he was their Production Manager in charge of several draftsman and the production of all Construction Drawings.

    In 2000, Dave moved back to Colorado working remotely for Desmond Muirhead until his passing in 2001, upon which he began his own company, Golf Graphics. He started full time at Phelps Golf Course Design in October of 2004 and currently handles the Production Manager duties. He has extensive knowledge of AutoCad, Photoshop and web design software.

    In July of 2006, Phelps Golf Course Design officially changed it’s name to Phelps-Atkinson Golf Course Design to acknowledge Kevin Atkinson and his position as Senior Designer and partner.