MIT has a long connection with the sport of golf, on and off the course. The Institute’s varsity golf program existed from 1902 to 2009 and won at least eight recorded team or tournament championships and included at least 13 individual champions and medalists. And today MIT’s Club Golf Team is a competitive group that is part of the National Collegiate Club Golf Association.
Off the course, MIT Technology Review has attempted to characterize the perfect golf swing; Professor Anette “Peko” Hosoi has chronicled the impact of follow-through; and Professor Pedro Reis has studied how golf ball dimples might improve vehicle efficiency.
One alumnus, however, has truly gotten his hands onto the putting green. Ken Wang ’71, former MIT Alumni Association president who graduated with a degree from MIT's Department of Economics and currently serves on the MIT Corporation, developed one of the most highly regarded public golf courses in the country: the 170-acre Pound Ridge Golf Course, located less than an hour outside New York City.
Wang purchased the Pound Ridge course with his father as a lightly played nine-hole course in 1980, and completely rebuilt it as an 18-hole course in 2008. It’s known today as one of America’s premier public golf courses.
“We bought the course with no grander strategy than to have a place to golf near our family country home,” he says. “But today it’s very rare to find modern courses built near urban cities.”
The 18-hole transformation was the work legendary course architect Pete Dye, who is known for course designs that blend traditional golfing features with unique, thought-provoking twists.
“Pete thinks like a mathematician or engineer,” Wang says. “And he is a kindred spirit to the MIT community. His aw-shucks image notwithstanding, every angle has been figured out — to the nearest decimal. That precision has always appealed to the MIT side of me.”
As in previous years, Wang's course will be the site of this year's annual MIT Alumni Golf Classic.
“Being an MIT alum means more than just being a scientist or engineer,” Wang says. “It’s about connecting with the MIT community and having fun.”
The 2018 MIT Alumni Golf Classic will take place Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Pound Ridge Golf Club in Pound Ridge, New York. A discounted early bird price for individuals and foursomes is available until July 1. Free coach bus transportation from MIT campus will be available for Boston-area golfers.
A version of this article first appeared on the Slice of MIT blog.