Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

60 IN CONSTRUCT ION techniques to oversee the project from afar while not travelling, to conform with local and state orders, but also to ensure we kept our team safe,” says Welling. “At PGA Frisco, we deployed drones to our shapers and construction team so that we were able to get daily and sometimes real-time updates on the progress and review design features. I think having the drones capture daily updates was a great tool that we will continue to use as we return to resume business as usual to supplement our site visits. “Our design team was able to resume travel in May, still adhering to state guidelines and social distancing measures. While nothing will replace being able to make adjustments in the field, the technologies used at PGA Frisco allowed us to still effectively manage construction at the onset Photos: Greg Norman Golf Course Design We are doing very little differently. We were already using drone technology to fly sites that have areas that are hard to get to, so now these same drones will fly an entire site to confirm what we are seeing through detailed topography maps and Google Earth imaging. We have always provided highly detailed master plans and construction drawings and used a range of technology including AutoCAD, 3D modelling and incredible construction machinery. While it is always nice to be able to walk a site, some require such significant grading and clearing that walking is not that beneficial. When you are cutting ridge lines of over 20 metres and consequently filling areas the same depth, what you are initially walking on won’t exist. For softer sites, it always helps, but with all this technology at our fingertips and over 30 years of doing this, it is not as critical as it was years ago. We are not ‘arm-waving’ designers that figure things out in the field. Perhaps this does not sound as romantic as ‘discovering’ things on site but we have created some incredible golf courses in, for example, the mountains of Korea. Often the main thing we are looking for during site visits is how we can incorporate views over the mountains or to the sea into the routing. I believe an architect’s time on site should be to finesse the details, not to shift holes, greens or make any other significant changes. These are all issues that should have been solved through proper planning. Over 90 per cent of new golf sites are challenging in many regards and the reality, especially for international and developing markets, is that most architects are dealing with a tremendous number of constraints including challenging budgets, unrealistic schedules and inexperienced contractors and owners. Due to these conditions we have, for many years, taken the approach that more detail and thought in the planning phases is important and necessary. There is so much detail available to design from before seeing a site. With various Covid-19 lockdowns, this has been more important than ever for work to continue. Of course being on site has great advantages – including being able to bond with owners and teams about their vision – but there are many things that can be done with virtual meetings, photos and video. Turn to page 74 to read about Golfplan’s work at Seletar CC in Singapore It’s in the detail Kevin Ramsey of Golfplan says that little has changed to his firm’s design approach throughout the pandemic