Golf Course Architecture - Issue 65, July 2021

53 POST-COV I D DES IGN T o say that golf architecture has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic is not to minimise in any way the impact of the virus on every sphere of economic activity. In many countries, the effect of the pandemic on GDP levels was the most severe of any event since such records began to be kept. But, at the same time, golf design and development is a sector that depends massively on travel, which has, of course, been close to impossible in much of the world since early 2020. Golf architects are among the most regular of frequent f liers, and getting to visit prospective and actual clients, and job sites, has varied from difficult to impossible across the world. “Considering three of my current jobs: the one in Florida I have always been able to get to, the one in California shut down for a while but has now opened up again, and the one in Montreal I still cannot get to,” says Arizona-based architect Andy Staples. “Well, I can get to Montreal, but I would have to quarantine for two weeks when I got there, which really isn’t much use.” Staples says he has been able to do a great deal of preparatory work on his jobs remotely. But he stresses that once a job gets into construction, he believes it is essential for the architect to be on site as much as is possible. “We’ve done quite a lot of work, and it’s all been via Zoom: historical research, analysis of old plans, initial thoughts,” he explains. “But then you want to get on the ground, meet with the committee, see the members play the course. The biggest change has been the understanding and the openness of my clients to have those sorts of meetings when they’re used to meeting face to face. One of the bigger hurdles was understanding that you could be just as – if not more – productive without being on site. I had a club president tune into a meeting when he was out at an anniversary dinner with his wife. I believe we’ll continue to do a lot more remotely. But there’s no construction going on. I have no doubt – supervising construction work without being on site is not going to cut it.” Tim Lobb, also a frequent traveller, has had to postpone a substantial number of trips, though at the time of writing, he had had to travel to Egypt for essential Lessons from the pandemic Golf architects have seen a lot of work go on hold over the last year and a quarter, as the Covid-19 pandemic made travelling either difficult or impossible. Will the lessons learned change the way they work? Andy Staples has been working in his office for much of the past year or so, with Zoom proving to be an important tool Photo: Staples Golf Design