Sunday, 2 January 2011

How I Became an Architect

I began watching golf during the Pebble Beach Pro Am when I was 12 years old. I remember watching this beautiful course and paying no attention to any of the players – I was in love with the holes. Dad reminded me a couple of years ago that I immediately grabbed paper and began drawing the holes in plan. Then the future architect took over and it lead to designing new holes. God I wish I still had those to post. Dad said a few months later I was still watching golf and drawing holes when I asked if this was somebody’s job to design courses.

He started me playing a year after that and I decided to write to the ASGCA for “help” They suggested I take Landscape Architecture and that course of action became set in stone. From day one I always wanted to be a golf architect so I went to both Ryerson and the University of Guelph for Landscape Architecture. While interning one at a large Landscape Architecture office, one of the designers suggested I call a really nice guy named Doug Carrick.

I called Doug and talked to him about my desire to be a golf architect and asked if I could go on site with him. He graciously invited me along to follow him around on site and I knew this is what I wanted to do; the only problem was he wasn’t busy enough to hire me. While he likely doesn’t remember that day, it was the best day I ever spent with Doug because he actually took the time to explain the design as we went. He finally did have an opening a year later but I would have had to quit with a couple of months left in school and I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I eventually interview with Tom McBroom after graduating but I found him so argumentative and arrogant during the interview that I actually got up and said I was not interested in working there and walked out. Our half an hour argument was over whether you should be able to run the ball up onto most greens, I was already talking Thompson and Ross at this point since Dad gave me a steady diet of books to read. Funny thing is we have met for lunch and get along fine; I think he has no idea that he interviewed me.

I found myself working as a Landscape Architect for a while until out of the blue Doug called with an opening. We had kept in contact through the years and he hired me to come join with him. Now the important part to this is I actually talked to Doug on a regular basis for almost three years before I ended up working for him. If there is one thing a budding architect must know - nobody is hired off a resume – most know the architect informally well before hand.

I worked for Doug for 17 years. You could call the initial years an apprenticeship, Doug provided the basic education in the office and I handled getting drawings and specifications out on time. When we were up to date I was invited to tag along on site to listen and learn. The next stage was taking the responsibility for small renovation projects where I met with clients, did all the design work and then ran the job in the field - this eventually lead to large renovation projects. This was a great education in all facets of the job and was a great preparation for the final stage - being in charge of new project. I learned to write specifications, tenders, create new details, produce an entire set of working drawings, administer the project, deal with consultants, sub-consultants, deal with owners, planners and all the issues that nobody realize exist until they actually build a course.

I stayed possibly longer than I should have but I felt some loyalty to Doug. Finally after a long tenure with Carrick Design, and being accepted as a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, I was left with one goal left unfulfilled. I want to build a course from beginning to end where I am able to use all the techniques and strategies that I believe make a better golf course. This is not a knock on Carrick’s work, but rather a desire to go somewhere completely different, and that is how I come to be on my own.

So why the blog? Partially to slowly collect all my ideas on paper, partially to communicate with others interested in architecture, partially because I needed to learn to write badly, but mainly to organize my thoughts on what I want to do. I hope to be able to continue blogging right through to my first completed project. I think the run through the design process and construction would be fascinating to write about.

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