By Lisa Van Loo

“Anything that honors my father and his legacy is always so neat to see. He would be very happy and very honored. I’ve never seen anything like this on a golf course.”

Pine Canyon parked a caboose on its golf course. And it totally fits.

It wasn’t the way a train would normally travel, but with no tracks in sight, a crane was pretty much the only way to move it. Tucked snugly in its new home among the towering ponderosa pines at Pine Canyon in Flagstaff, that vintage caboose is actually serving as the start of something new.

As a tribute to the man who designed Pine Canyon’s golf course, and in a nod to Flagstaff’s birth as a rail town, that 1944 Santa Fe railroad car will experience a renaissance in the coming months as it is transformed into a midway grill, designed to serve both hungry golfers headed to the back nine and hungry club members who have the time to soak in the mountain air.

“We thought, no better way to pay tribute to Jay Morrish than to name it after him,” Marty Hoeffken, Pine Canyon general manager, said of the caboose. “So, we’re referring to it as Morrish Station.”

Morrish designed Pine Canyon’s championship course, adding the Flagstaff course to his impressive portfolio, which also includes Scottsdale TPC and Troon North Golf Club. Ahead of the new season, Pine Canyon invited Morrish’s son, Carter, to the club to evaluate the course’s condition, offer suggestions on design and maintenance, and reveal to him the plans for Morrish Station.

“It made me feel great. Very special,” Carter Morrish said of the caboose. “Anything that honors my father and his legacy is always so neat to see. He would be very happy and very honored. I’ve never seen anything like this on a golf course.”

And that’s part of the novelty, according to Peter Burger, president of Symmetry Companies, which owns Pine Canyon. While the caboose serves as a gentle reminder of the railroad that built the town and still serves the town today, it also adds a little levity to the game. It somehow makes the game, in Pine Canyon’s pristine setting, a little more accessible, Burger said.

“We really want to kind of continue to help foster and grow the game and we think a way we can do that is making it less intimidating for those who have never played the game,” Burger said.

Course improvements, designed to positively impact playability, also help with that mission. Consulting with Morrish, Pine Canyon adjusted bunkers, improved irrigation and introduced a short-game area in preparation for the new season. Burger said it was essential to make sure that any changes to Pine Canyon’s course did not compromise the Morrish design philosophy, which is dedicated to taking full advantage of the land, and finding ways to challenge every level of golfer.

Morrish said he was honored by the invitation.

“Strategically, I think the golf course is extremely sound,” Morrish said. “This is really about as good as it gets.”

the contributor
Lisa has a contradictory, raging love affair with commas and short, emphatic sentences. She can’t help it. And, she’s not looking to change.
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