Signature courses: over budget and over schedule?

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By Sean Dudley

The craze for signature courses is being driven too much by marketing, designer Peter Harradine has claimed.

During a roundtable debate at GolfEx Dubai, Harradine questioned whether money is becoming the only criterion for course designs.

"The whole world is based on marketing," he said. "Tiger Woods is the best athlete that's ever walked the earth, but as a golf architect? If a top player is involved in a course design, it usually means it will be over budget and over schedule. My signature stands for quality, built on time and on budget." Harradine didn't reserve criticism for the players so much as developers and owners. "The players aren't stupid, if they know they can ask for US$1 million or US$2 million more they will, and good luck to them – they realise that daft people will pay them." Jeremy Slessor, managing director of European Golf Design, defended the use of top players putting their names to projects, saying the increased pulling power invariably leads to higher revenues. "It may be marketing, but as a mechanism it works. If you put Langer's name on a course you know it will be played by Germans," he said.

Harradine also called for designers to offer uncomplicated layouts, saying the current trend was for fancy championship par-72 courses over 8,000 yards. "We have forgotten the normal punter who just wants a good experience," he added.

Despite his reservations about the unbridled growth in signature courses, Harradine welcomed the fact that world number one Woods has chosen Dubai as the location for his first signature design. "The fact Tiger is developing his first course here is great news," he said.

"It will raise the stakes by 50 per cent not only it terms of fees but also budgets. We now have a very high benchmark."

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