Road Hole Shorts

Golf Design, golf, golf, GOLF

More than the Sum of its Parts

 I’ve been designing golf courses for a long time and my best projects are easy for me to identify.  Other projects may have been done with a better budget or a better piece of land, but the best projects are the ones where I’m still friends with the contractor and owner.  I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had a number of repeat renovation clients – in more than one case we’ve taken over seven years to complete the work I had master planned.  The clubs that decide to do everything in one or two seasons are nice jobs, too.  Don’t get me wrong – there’s a certain instant gratification that’s right up there with having a fully sodded new course!

I make a point to try and get back to many of my projects each year.  Experiencing the maturation process and actually playing my holes is invaluable.  It gives me the confidence to project how my work will perform down the road, which is especially critical with greens.  

Back to my favorite projects.  It’s a real trick to remain friends with everyone involved in a big project when its all done.  I don’t care how carefully you plan or how easy going everyone is; there are going to be unforeseen problems.  If you can deal with them as a team there’ll be a team picture at the end.  Projects like this don’t work well when even just one of the three main parties (Owner, Architect, Contractor) thinks the project is all about him or her.  Everyone must understand what each of the three main parties has to win or lose depending on the success of the project.  Often times, the Architect acts as an arbitrator between the Owner and Contractor and sometimes Architects make the mistake of making both unhappy in the process.  A good Architect is a good problem solver and he/she needs to be a good team builder as well.  Keeping everyone happy is as important as getting the exact grade that you want on that green.  You might disagree, thinking that once the green is completed it’s going to be like that for a long time.  While this is true, a discontented contractor will be a less careful builder and you may end up with a lot of problems that he ordinarily would have resolved for himself.    By the same token, an Owner that has to squabble over minor details and nickel and dime change orders may just blow a gasket when you come across rock where a critical cut is needed.  Above all else, dollars will be the root of discontent for the Contractor and Owner.  It’s easy to understand that the Owner is “paying the bills”.  It’s sometimes not so easy to realize that the Contractor is paying bills as well.  He’s in the project to make a profit.  As the Architect, you have to be cognizant of the financial realities.


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