Emperical knowledge by Tim-Ole Michel

From an early age I have always been fascinated by the game of Golf, but I have developed an even more keen interest in the actual architecture and design of golf courses over the years. Therefore designing and constructing single golf holes became one of my favourite spare time activities. I really wanted to get closer to this profession in some way. Therefore I am very thankfully to have had the chance for a 2-week visit at EGD.

At the office of EGD I felt very comfortable the second I entered it the first time. This was certainly due to the friendly welcome of the team but also because I was positively surprised in a way that this kind of work, the architecture and design of golf courses, really existed the way I imagined it would. As this was my first visit at a golf course architecture company my entire image of this profession was based on research and theory. People also have always deflected me from this profession before, who doubted the existence of this profession, and when I finally could convince myself of the contrary this made me even happier.

At EGD I was learned about the whole processes happening in the build up of a golf course. By designing my own golf course project I was learning about fundamental skills and techniques a designer encompasses. The first of many things I have learned was, the appropriate line up of golf holes to form an 18-hole golf course appropriate to the given landscape. Movement of contours/earth to form a difficult but fair golf course for every golfer belonged to the more challenging and exciting tasks. Another important aspect I was taught is that there is not just this sporting challenge, consisting of a combination of fun and creativity; there also is responsibility to and awareness of Nature to care about.

Apart of working on my project, I was also able to have a look around inside the office and get some views on the work of the designers. A range of little conversations gave me a deeper understanding and made me gain vivid impressions of golf design and the individual tasks everybody has in the office. It was especially exciting to see how plans get implemented into reality and how the individual steps are undertaken until the actual golf course is ready to be played. To get an idea of the periods of time the individual work stages take was equally impressive.

The designers of EGD were working on projects in different countries all over the world. I noticed that the design has to adapt to the individual conditions according to the location. The atmosphere within the team was easygoing, relaxed but truly serious and professional. I felt well-integrated in the office and with all those details and empirical values I could pick up here, I was given the inspiration to continue working on my dream of becoming a golf course architect one day to come true.

Additionally being invited to trips to social events like cricket matches or rounds of golf for building site inspection, made me feel being part of this unit during my stay and provided me a closer look into the work of a golf course design company.

It has really been a great time at EGD. There was a great atmosphere in the office which I really enjoyed, sharpened through the FIFA World Cup on television with myself as a German surrounded by a crowd of England supporters…

Tim-Ole Michel.


Tim playing out of a bunker at Princes Golf Club during his visit to European Golf Design

Golf Management – Career Change

By Brian Ridout

I had worked in live television sports broadcasting for over twenty years as a freelance editor. I was fortunate to have worked on World Cups, Summer & Winter Olympic’s and World Championships in a multitude of sports. I had travelled the globe and spent a large amount of time out of the United Kingdom. Two years ago I decided upon a career change, and decided the best way to facilitate my plans was to go back into education.

I was accepted onto the golf management (sports science) degree course at Merrist Wood campus in Surrey in September 2008. The first year was successful and in September 2009 I was presented with my assignments for year two. The module that captured my attention was golf course design. As a result of this I contacted various design studios seeking an internship for the year, allowing me to learn and develop an interest in this area of golf which I had no previous knowledge of. This would also satisfy another module on the program, professional development within the work arena.

Jeremy Slessor allowed me into the exciting atmosphere of European Golf Design at their studio, not far from Sunningdale Golf Club. I was impressed, what they thought of me I can only guess! However everyone welcomed me and made the entire experience extremely worthwhile. I was given the tour and introduced to Gary Johnston who would give me the benefit of his vast experience. What made things even easier for me was how much input the rest of the group gave me. The design team (Stan, Robin, Ross Dave), Sarah, Matt and Alex all offered help and I was given the impression that each of them wanted to see me succeed. A large open plan office allowed me to make myself at home behind a desk and get started.

I have enjoyed my time at EGD. As a mature student this placement has proved to be perfect for me. There is a great deal of professionalism at EGD, along with a wealth of talent and knowledge. Everyone does their best to make sure each item of work is the best it can possibly be.

My future plans are to utilise my previous experience and couple that with my new knowledge and work on Tournament/Event Management within golf. The degree program at Merrist Wood has a very good reputation, additionally I have been able to make many new contacts through my work at EGD.

The weekly abuse about me being the only Chelsea supporter in the office ceased this week when I pointed out that Chelsea had won the Premier league again! A win against Portsmouth this Saturday and it will be doubles all round I presume?


Brian working on his golf course design project

Great time at EGD!

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!

Jakub Červenka, Czech Golf Development

Jakub Červenka, Czech Golf Development

Spending a week with European Golf Design

By Charlie Jones

I was very excited to hear the news that on the 16th of November I would start a weeks work experience at European Golf Design. I have always been a keen golfer and I currently work at Dale Hill Golf Club so I was looking forward to seeing the design aspect of the golf industry.

Work experience is normally associated with photocopying paper and filing notes but this definitely was not the case! Monday morning came around quickly and after meeting the team I was put under the wing of Designer, Gary Johnston. My task, design a golf course! I was given a plot of land in Berlin and after getting familiar with the constraints and contours I set to work. I went home that night wishing golf courses only had 17 holes; it was proving a lot more difficult than I anticipated!

By Tuesday morning I had a good outline of where all my holes would be placed so that they were within the boundaries and complimented the land. I decided on an inner and outer loop design, with my front 9 as the outer loop and the back 9 as the inner loop. 

Now that my routing was set it was time to add the design features such as fairways, bunkers and greens. I learnt all about the different types of golf hole such as natural, strategic and penal. I tried to stick to a strategic design so that the golf course could be enjoyed by golfers of all standards. I continued my designing into Tuesday evening and had it ready for a big day on Wednesday, competition day!!!

Gary had informed me on Tuesday night that there would be a competition between me and another work experience student. We had to present 6 finished holes to him and fellow EGD designer Robin Hiseman and talk through all the reasoning behind the holes. Brian, my competitor was an experienced golfer studying golf science so I knew I was up against it! I kept my cards close to my chest and although I was slightly under prepared on technical issues of the course I was quietly confident going into the presentation room. Brian and I competently pitched our 6 holes and awaited a result. However, Like France vs Ireland a controversial decision was to follow! Gary and Rob called a draw! I was initially disappointed but a very worthwhile exercise, giving me a great chance to see how Brian had set about his course and what he’d done differently to me.

The week was going quickly and by Thursday I was on to grading the course. This was a concept I struggled to grasp straight away but Gary remained patient and did his best to show me the way. At this stage you have to focus in on one of your golf holes and add all your slopes, mounds and depressions. I managed to get two holes completed with all the interesting mounds and slopes I wanted whilst taking into account how the drainage would work. It’s easy to have the idea in your head but putting it onto paper for someone else to understand is quite a task!

Friday came around much too quickly for my liking but I had a great time working on my golf course and working here has made me even thirstier to pursue a career in the golf industry.

Lastly I need to say a few thank you’s:

To everyone for making me feel very welcome.
Gary – for teaching me everything I know about golf design
Jeremy – for setting everything up and allowing me to come here!

Charlie

Charlie, hard at work
Charlie hard at work.

Helping Hand

My name is Michael McIntyre I am going into my second year as a student at Manchester Metropolitan University. I am currently studying Landscape Architecture and then plan to take a further course in Golf Course Design after completing my 3 years at Manchester University.

I first worked at European Golf Design during my School Work Experience week when I was 15 and I then worked for an extra week in the School Summer holidays. I am now 19 and this is the third time I have been given the great opportunity to return to EGD to gain more experience within Golf Course Design.

The people at EGD are very friendly and have welcomed me into the company as one of the team. When I arrived on Monday last week I met Gary who gave me my first task which was to write the text for a course planner on a Golf Course in Bulgaria. This was very interesting but at the same time quite challenging as I had to vary the text ensuring that for each hole I gave, in my opinion the best way the golfer should play the hole. I then went onto work out the stoke indexes, Gary and I worked on this together and put the 18 holes in order of hardest to easiest, this gave us the stoke indexes for the course.

I was impressed with the changes in the office, with a large flat screen TV and comfy sofas, giving me absolute comfort when watching the Olympics with the colleagues. Surprisingly they still continue their lunch time habit of a trip down to Waitrose and I was soon to follow in their footsteps, however everyone did look forward to pizza Friday which was understandable after a week of Waitrose and healthy eating.

I then went onto produce some photo montages on a prospective job. The purpose of these is to try and show what alterations we could make to certain holes on the course to improve them aesthetically and strategically. I produced three montages for the Designers to look at. They gave me their comments on how I could improve on my ideas ie. the shape of a bunker. I made some adjustments and printed off the photo montages.

At the end of my first week I began to work on the strategic design on a layout adding two 9 holes to an existing 9 holes. The routing plan has been laid out and I will be continuing to come up with the more detailed plans throughout next week.

I have really enjoyed my first week at EGD and in just a short space of time have already begun to learn a lot more about Golf Course Design. I am looking forward to carrying out my next challenging tasks during week two however I am unsure what we’ll be watching now the Olympics has finished, the office will be in despair.