Some excitement for the car enthusiasts amongst us on Friday as a fleet of vintage cars passed by the office. Over 50 pre 1941 sports cars including Bentleys, Lagondas, Bugattis, Aston Martins, Jaguars and Mercedes trailed past on the first stage of the Flying Scotsman Endurance Rally 2010. Starting from just down the road at the famous Brooklands race track, home of the world’s oldest motor-racing circuit, the cars spent the weekend racing along remote country roads on a three-day charge to Scotland, stopping for time trials along a route which took in Henley on Thames, Stowe, Rutland, the Humber Bridge and the Yorkshire Moors.
Interestingly not only was the start of the race very familiar to us. The finish line was at Marriott Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club near Edinburgh where we carried out major renovation work to the James Braid designed East Course in 2005 in order to develop and enhance the reputation of Dalmahoy as a popular golfing destination and to create a golf course that will once again be able to host international golf tournaments.
Winners of the Flying Scotsman 2010 were a Vauxhall 30/98 in the pre-1925 class and a Bentley Derby 4¼ in the pre-1941 class.
When it comes to my world working as European Golf Design’s Computer Guru it’s always important to have the right digital tools available for every job. I don’t think there are any boundaries in IT and that’s why I enjoy it so much, whatever you need to do there is a tool that can help you do it. I spend a lot of time testing, cursing and adoring a wide range of software, here is a list of my essential software apps (in no particular order).
1. Bentley Microstation/Powercivil – The bread and butter workhorse when it comes to plan production and terrain modelling. There is no better CAD system available today.
2. Adobe Photoshop – It’s the industry standard image editing package and is packed full with features. It is an essential tool for any serious photographer or web developer and integrates tightly with Adobe’s other products.
3. Google Earth – The professional version has changed the way we work. Being able to locate sites and view the terrain in 3D is truly amazing. Not only does it enhance plans it also helps design work when a detailed site survey is not available.
4. WordPress – This is a popular blog publishing application with a built in content management system. It’s used by 1000’s of people to create online blogs and best of all it’s free.
5. Adobe Dreamweaver / Flash – Dreamweaver is a highly extendable web development application and suitable for users of all abilities. Flash is used to add animation and interactivity to web pages, it also supports streaming of audio and video.
6. Abode Illustrator – This has become the standard application when it comes to illustration design. Artists, Illustrators and Graphic Designers use Illustrator to create vector-based graphics. Like Photoshop it’s not easy to master but the rewards are worth the effort.
7. PHP/MYSQL/Apache – If you want to build dynamic web pages with a database backend and all for free, look no further.
8. Windows Small Business Server – Being a Microsoft Qualified Engineer (MCSE) I’m in my element here. Without getting all techie this is an all-in-one server solution with all the features you’ll ever need from a server.
9. Napster – Online music file sharing service with more than 10 million tracks in every possible genre. If you need music while you work this is it.
10. Google / Web Browser – This is Daddy, use Google properly and you can become an expert in any subject in 15 minutes! Oh and don’t forget your trusty Web Browser you can’t use Google without it, Internet Explorer is still my choice.
Others worth a mention – Skype, QuarkXpress, 3D Studio Max, LSS, Spotify.
I’d be interested to know what your favourite applications are and why?
Since a very successful cooperation with EGD in the Czech Republic during the design work and construction of Casa Serena, my professional relationship with Robin Hiseman, Jeremy Slessor and whole EGD group has developed into a warm, personal friendship. So, I was very happy to get the opportunity to come back to the office for a week again this year and meet the team. The previous visit was split into two parts, with office work experience and practical exercises on the golf course. As I come from a country without any coastline and where the golf tradition is short by comparison to the UK, my aim was to visit the classical heathland and links courses. This year, I was privileged to visit and play Swinley Forest and Hayling golf clubs, both of which were great playing experiences. I am proud also that my game, so deep in the winter, was good enough for me to shoot 77 at Swinley Forest! The usual match play competition with Robin was enriched with his very valuable golf course architectural observations. Robin´s focus on details, feeling for landscape and good will to share his golf architectural ideas during his work at Casa Serena started up my personal interest in golf course architecture. It has grown in time into a real passion for me. This time, I brought my current design project with me, to be reviewed by both Robin and Gary Johnston. Gary and Robin´s notes on the design strategy and technical details of the grading plan have been very helpful.
I am currently working as a construction manager and site surveyor on golf developments in both the Czech and Slovak Republics. Thanks to my job I have the opportunity to combine my technical construction knowledge with the differing design styles and working methods of the golf architects, notably the quality of the drawings and the attention to detail during the construction site visit. Let me say that the overall quality and professionalism of EGD is top of the class!
My week at EGD went too quickly, unfortunately, but the visit on Sunday, my last day, to the extraordinary Painswick Golf Club was a real cherry on the top of the cake.
I have to thank to everyone at EGD for making me feel very welcome!
We’ve been very lazy about posting blogs since the start of the year, so apologies to any of you who have checked in from time to time and found nothing new here. We’ve been busy, but somehow much of what we’ve been busy with is not blog material, at least for the time-being.
Anyway, Stan and I are in Turkey at the moment, with an ever-increasing design team, working on the Olivion Resort, near Belek. We had a pretty full-on day yesterday on site and then in a late afternoon workshop. The design team, which includes John Goldwyn and Lisya Sullam from WATG and Mike Wood from GEO, had collectively presented a draft master plan to the clients during meetings in London last month and this was their opportunity to provide feedback. What struck me was the way they approached this process.
There were a number of issues that, potentially, had quite significant impact to the master plan. We’ve all been in meetings where a client would have said something like “I don’t want it to be like this, I want it to be like that – go and do that” and sent the design team away simply to carry out his requirements. That’s fine, but it doesn’t leave any room for the design team to get creative. But yesterday the clients instead said things like “we think there is an issue here (for instance, they were concerned with the position of the proposed access road into the project) – what can we do to fix it?.” That’s a completely different proposition, allowing the design team the ability to creatively come up with a solution that meets the client’s concerns.
In the end, it’s two ways of asking the same thing, but invariably the solution will be better if the design team are given the opportunity to use their skills to come up with the best response rather than a response that just meets the client’s demand.
In our last blog we all looked back at our personal highlights of 2009. But for the first blog of the New Year, and as the snow piles up outside, I thought I’d sit back with a warming ‘Chocolat chaud’ and look forward to what 2010 has in store.
And for myself it looks like another busy year with three new courses up and running by the autumn. The first, Rowallan Castle Golf Course in Scotland, had a soft opening last year but should be fully operational this summer. It’s a Colin Montgomerie signature course which winds its way through a historic landscape and past two castles. There are some great views to, across the Clyde estuary to Arran.
Moving to Southern Europe, The Dunes Course at Navarino Dunes Resort in Greece will open for play this spring. Designed in association with Bernhard Langer the golf course is part of a major new, beachside luxury hotel resort in Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese. It is a particularly exciting project as it represents the first of a number of high-end developments in the region which will open under the Costa Navarino umbrella.
The third course I’ll be looking forward to seeing being played this year is the Colin Montgomerie Course at The Dutch, in Holland. 11 holes were completed last year and were growing in strongly by the end of the season. In the spring we’ll be putting the finishing touches to the remaining holes with a view to playing some golf in the late autumn.
And talking of the autumn. October 1st will see the first shots struck in anger at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort, the biennial match between the top golfers in Europe and the US. This will be the 38th time the matches have been played but, excitingly for us, the 1st time on a golf course created by European Golf Design. The event marks 10 years of work for us and we’ll be looking forward to it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation! You never know we might even get a European victory. Now there’s something to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold day in January!
2009 is nearly over. New contracts have been signed for courses in Egypt, Holland, Russia, Portugal and Cyprus. Construction is underway in Russia and Holland, and courses completed in Scotland, Greece and Bulgaria. New websites designed for Paul Casey and Colin Montgomerie’s Foundation. Looking back on 2009 here are our own individual highlights:
Jeremy – Can’t limit myself to one highlight of the year; Working at EGD was a highlight. We’ve a great group of people. Each is talented for their respective area of responsibility. Being part of that experience, competency and professionalism is a real pleasure.
Seeing great courses designed by Ross, Stan, Rob, Gary and Dave was a real treat. I’m the lucky one – I get to see what everyone is doing. It’s a fantastically impressive body of work.
Speaking at a number of conferences (US, Denmark, UK, Spain and Amsterdam) this year was very interesting, if only to gauge how we’re doing compared to others in the industry. We’re doing well by comparison.
Stan – Returning to Sporting Club Berlin after several years and catching up with old friends.
Ross – Two things stand out and both from courses we’re working on with Colin Montgomerie. Firstly, working with the shapers at The Dutch trying to create a unique character for the golf course, and secondly the opening for play of Rowallan Castle Golf Club in Scotland.
Shara – Conquering my fear of heights – riding the London Eye at the Christmas Party.
Gary – Finally getting to play on the Old Course at St Andrews and going out in level par – just don’t ask about the back 9!
Matt – 2009 has been a very enjoyable year. Working with our Parent Companies I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with not only some of the World’s best golfers working on player websites but also to have produced tournament graphics for some of the World’s top golfing events. A particular highlight has been the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation website and related social media. Being part of Colin Montgomerie’s team helping raising money for those affected by cancer has been a very rewarding experience.
Dave – My highlight has to be the site trips to our project at Zavidovo. We have been very fortunate to have two of the very best shapers building the golf course, and it has been a pleasure and education watching, learning and working with them.
Alex – Seeing a picture one of my plans for Palm City on a sign in Denmark, the size of a house.
Robin – Standing on the proposed 2nd tee of our new project site near Madrid. Having sketched out a routing on the topographic map I thought this hole might turn out quite well when I went to the site to check it out for the first time. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how spectacular this hole could turn out. I got a huge adrenaline rush standing here thinking this could become one of the World’s great par 5’s. Reminded me why I love this career so much.
Sarah – Attending the KPMG Golf Business Forum at Celtic Manor and sharing a mini bus with Arnold Palmer.
Thrill seekers Dave Sampson and Gary Johnston during the EGD Christmas Party
Asked by Sarah recently what the highlight of my year at EGD has been I suppose, as Accountant, I should really say things like a successful audit etc…etc.
2009 hasn’t yet finished and I am full of trepidation for part our forthcoming Christmas outing on Wednesday. If I succeed with the mission set…………….that will be my personal highlight of the year. I am hoping the EGD team will help me through it!!
I should start with my experience last year. As part of our Christmas outing we went to Kew Gardens and as part of that, several of the team went on the Tree Top Walk. I didn’t!! In the past I have been o.k. with heights etc. but recently the whole idea has become very scary. O.K I thought be honest, “I don’t like heights – I’ll try”. I got to the first step of the Tree Top Walk and then retreated, hastily.
This year we have another good Christmas outing planned except I am really being tested. As part of the outing Jeremy has booked a trip on the London Eye.
Firstly I have to step into the pod which I fully appreciate is TRANSPARENT I know travels very very SLOWLY, very very HIGH, in a very very ENCLOSED SPACE with ABSOLUTELY NO WAY OUT!! (Please do not expect a tweet from me at this stage).
My personal highlight will be to survive this experience with help from the team (and a large glass of white wine or two once released from the pod).
Riffa Views, in Bahrain has won a 5-star Award for ‘Best Golf Real Estate Development’ at the prestigious CNBC Arabian Property Awards 2009. The award highlights Riffa Views as a leading golf and residential development in a tough economic climate and has helped elevate Bahrain as a residential destination. Since opening this year, the course has hosted a number of prominent tournaments including the Gulf Air International Pro-Captain Challenge and the Middle Eastern Final of the Faldo Series.
The luxury Riffa Views development has over 900 villas built around the acclaimed Montgomerie Course, designed by Colin Montgomerie in association with Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design. Hiseman commented, “We were delighted to hear that Riffa Views has won this prestigious award and feel it is wholly justified for the very high standard of the whole Riffa Views development. The developer was very accommodating in providing us with the space and investment necessary to provide a world class golf course and we expect this to be just the tip of the iceberg with the plaudits that Riffa Views will receive. It’s a great place to live and a fun golf course to play”.
Colin Montgomerie added “The course has all the characteristics to make it one of the top courses in the Middle East. Of all the region’s desert courses that profess to offer a links type experience, we believe that Riffa Views is clearly the most authentic. It is a very classy development and a special layout to play. I’m very proud to have my name attached to it.”
The impressive Montgomerie Golf Course at Riffa Views