Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What it Takes to Work with a Tour Pro

Before you jump to conclusions, I am not working with a tour pro, but have a good friend that does. His situation came to mind while writing Monday’s blog.

He now works with a fairly well known and high profile golf professional based in the States. He made the change - jumping from his former employer to the tour pro – after finding himself in a similar situation to what I was talking about yesterday. He was very unhappy where he was and saw little prospect of change, but was also not the type of person to run his own business. Trust me it’s not easy. He made the change and found himself designing holes and courses with input from the professional. He is a very happy guy, but he also found out that his schedule would never been conventional again.

I’ve said many times Coore and Crenshaw are the bar for all architects. How does their particular relationship make them better than all other golf professional / architect relationships? The reason is the knowledge of Ben Crenshaw. He studied and read extensively about golf course architecture long before he entered the design field. He recognized the need to find the right person, and interestingly enough choose a lesser known architect at the time but one with the same the same vision. What makes Coore and Crenshaw work is mutual respect.

While Ben’s time may be limited by other commitments, Bill and Ben make sure they spend as much time as they can look at routings together. They also spend as much time on site as they can together to review all the alternatives knowing that two smart people have more solutions than one person would. While Bill spends the lion’s share of time on site, you can not dismiss Ben’s role in the design.

My friend spends a lot of time working around his pro’s schedule. They are a more conventional office creating working drawings so they meet often to discuss holes and routings. He has met him mostly on site, but also in airports, out at golf tournaments, in the evenings, in hotel conference rooms, wherever there is available time. They both make the effort, after all he is running the day to day design work for him, and the pro is the reason they have the work. They both know and respect each others role. It’s his willingness to get on a plane and meet him where he needs to that often is why their relationship works – particularly since the pro still plays full time.

Are non-golfing celebrity designer's next?

If you are asked to work with a tour professional, you area asked to work within their schedule. The reality of the business is you will need to meet them where they are when they have time. You will need to work where they live to avoid them losing out on family time. You will need to be available any time they have time to go out on site. You will need to occasionally meet them at some far away place where they have time so that they are always part of the process. You may even travel with them to use that time and then get on a plane to return home.

Your role is to educate them on the alternatives, talk about the possibilities for any piece of land and the implications of each design. You are there to open their mind to the possibilities and they are there to share their experience. Between the two of you, you are both there to find the best solution, or at least if you both want to do this right - all within the available time within their schedule.