By Design - Summer 2019

DIGEST A round-up of recent golf design news in association with: Environment, economics drive discussion M embers, partners and guests of the American Society wwof Golf Course Architects gathered in Phoenix—Scottsdale in May 2019 for the organization’s 73rd Annual Meeting. Speakers at the event included golf writer and past Donald Ross Award recipient Brad Klein, who charted the history of desert golf. He detailed the development of one of the world’s first ‘true’ desert layouts, Desert Forest, which was designed by ASGCA founding father Robert ‘Red’ Lawrence in 1961. Attendees played the course—located in nearby Carefree, Arizona—as part of the golfing schedule. The desert theme continued with a discussion with former Frank Lloyd Wright associate Vern Swaback, who spoke of his time as an apprentice at the iconic building architect and interior designer’s Taliesin West studio in Scottsdale. Wright’s architecture, designed in harmony with humanity and the environment, is a source of inspiration for countless architects, and Swaback spoke of its possible impact on golf course design. Ignacio Giraldo—a consumer goods, retail and tech expert—shared data on the changing face of the American consumer. He reminded attendees that millennials are now age 35, and they value subscription rather than buying. Recognizing how consumers of all ages choose to gather information that impacts their purchasing options will be key to business success in the future, for golf and all industries. A design discussion among members focused on practice games and short-play areas, including numerous examples of architects working with the land to develop additional playing options for golfers of all skill levels, and potential revenue enhancements for course owners and operators. Two presentations from United States Golf Association representatives were also well received. Hunki Yun, director of partnerships, outreach and education, shared results of surveys conducted with golfers across the country on their experiences at golf facilities. Members learned what key factors help golfers determine a good experience from bad, and those impacting if and when players will return for their next round. Brian Whitlark, a USGA agronomist, provided updates on the latest in warm-season grasses. As the south and southwest continue to be areas of growth in the golf industry, understanding more about the grasses that serve both the golfer and the course becomes more relevant. Attendees also heard from Shirley Spork—one of a group of 13 founder members of the LPGA Tour that also included Babe Zaharias and Patty Berg—who reflected on her time as a pioneer of ladies’ tour golf. Taking place at Mountain Shadows Resort, the meeting gave attendees 4 | By Design ASGCA President Jan Bel Jan (front centre) and members at the ASGCA Annual Meeting in Arizona. Right: the meeting featured presentations on a range of topics, networking opportunities and guest speakers, such as LPGA Tour founder member Shirley Spork (pictured top right) Photos: Harley Bonham