|proto courtesy of Clive Barber|
Yesterday I found out about Angus Glen’s ambitious plans to renovate the South Course this fall. They plan to make major changes including four new ponds (not sure where they would go), some fairway re-grading, renovate the bunkers and rebuild all 18 greens. The work won’t be done by the original architect Doug Carrick.
A few years back Mike and I were approached about taking on this work. We declined, not because it wasn’t an interesting project, but because the course was a key moment in Doug Carrick’s career. I told Mike that I could not in good conscience work on a course designed and built by the man who gave me my start in golf design.
I do know when it comes to renovation work on older courses I have no ethical or moral issue with taking work from any architect if a client clearly wants to change. It’s tougher with new projects and personal relationships (or a lack of one) do play a role in your decisions. The quality of the original work does as well.
Mike and I declined the opportunity and I have often wondered about that decision. It was a high profile project in a key centre that would have been good for us. There have been moments where I have reconsidered that position.
|Ballantrae - courtesy of fairways magazine|
One of the projects built for Doug was Ballantrae Golf & Country Club. I consider the original version pretty much my project. A few years later they had an opportunity to take 1 ½ holes out of play and shift the holes over to yield more housing. When the change was made, Doug (and Cam) rebuilt those holes without any involvement from me. That hurt my feelings and played a role in me leaving.
It is a small business. A business where you maintain friendships with your peers despite the fact you are fighting hard to take their work. I run all my ethical decisions through my wife and two close friends. I’ve also used a small group of peers to deal with decisions like the one above. My peers said there was no ethical issue about taking that work, but half felt they could not have done so.
It’s possible to maintain friendships with other architects, but each and every time you go head to head it strains those relationships. If someone loses a key project that is the moment where friendships are tested and many fail. Laval has strained friendships I had with the staff at Rees Jones office. When they made the change, I was the architect they saw taking work. I understood their feelings, this can be a tough business.
That is why I feel for Doug today. Somebody else is going to rebuild a course that was very important to him at that time. If he’s similar to me, he will likely never play Angus Glen again. I played Ballantrae once after the changes (to see them) and have never gone back to see one of the most important moments in my career.