Architect moves into operations


Sean Dudley

Florida-based architect Bobby Weed is responding to the continuing downturn in US golf construction by moving into golf operations.

In March, Weed, along with Ohio-based firm T2 Golf Solutions, assumed management responsibilities at Palatka Golf Club, a 1925 municipal layout attributed to Donald Ross. The team has begune an integrated strategic plan addressing design, maintenance, marketing, capital improvements and operations, designed to transform the course’s prospects.

To date, Weed and T2 have reconfigured the staff, saving the City of Palatka nearly US$40,000 a year, implemented a bunker reconstruction project that will eliminate acres of maintained turf, installed a new menu in the clubhouse, and initiated a new marketing campaign making use the course's historic past and brighter future.

While it is unusual for a golf course designer to be involved in day-to-day operations, Weed was attracted by the opportunity to revive a municipal course that resonated with golf’s core values. “At Palatka, our management focus will be emphasising the cornerstones of the game: good conditions at a reasonable price, interesting golf holes that are fun to play, and a pleasant staff that loves the game,” he said.

Weed believes golf course designers need to take a more business-like approach to stay relevant. “Good design is an essential component to a compelling round of golf and a positive bottom line, but it takes more than artistry to turn a profit,” he said. “Understanding where to spend maintenance dollars so they synergsze with the design intent, having the most efficient staffing plan, marketing effectively to the target customer – these efforts must all contribute to the facility’s operation in an appropriate way. Golf course designers are in the best position to integrate all the disciplines involved in a profitable and sustainable golf facility. Contributing greater value through broader expertise is the best protection for designers who want their creativity to endure.”