Golf Course Architecture - Issue 67, January 2022

48 FEATURE DES IGN CAREERS Written by Adam Lawrence Making a name Golf architecture is a tough career choice. At no point in the game’s history have more than a few hundred people at once earned their living entirely (even largely) through designing golf courses, and there are many, many more who would surely like to. This level of competition tends to weed out those for whom it isn’t a true vocation. Routes into the industry, as we have explored previously, basically fall into two categories. One can join an established, traditional design-andcontract firm, often as someone who mostly sits in an office and draws plans for more senior designers (a role unkindly known in the business as a ‘CAD monkey’). Alternatively, in some cases more glamorously but with its own downside, a lot of young people have entered golf design by way of construction, either for a traditional contractor or for one of the designand-shape firms that provide, at least in part, their own construction crews for jobs – principally Coore & Crenshaw, Renaissance and Hanse. In the last ten years or so, the second of these routes has offered significantly more opportunities to new entrants to the industry than the first, as design firms reacted to the 2007/8 recession by downsizing dramatically; now, the sole practitioner is by far the most common golf design firm, and if CAD help is needed, it can be bought in from paid-by-the-hour subcontractors. Nevertheless, there is still the odd CAD gig going in the (now smaller) number of larger design firms and several people who had previously been in that role have transitioned into feeearner positions. The question is how to make that transition. In some ways, if you are a young shaper/architect who has been working for a design-and-shape firm, it is probably a little bit easier: you will have spent several years out in the field, a place where you can network, possibly on quite glamorous jobs (although you had better be somewhat nomadic, because you probably won’t have a place you can call home for much of the time). We spoke with six young architects, from both sides of the industry, to ask how they are turning their start into a lifelong career. What was your first job in golf, and how old were you when you got it? Riley Johns: A summer job working at a golf course – 16-hour days. I worked on the maintenance crew in the mornings and in the clubhouse kitchen during the afternoon and evenings. I was sixteen. Jeff Danner: Does a lawn mowing job for the local pro when I was ten count? Compensation was free golf lessons. If not, my first golf industry job was in high school at a local muni called Pine Valley in Marathon, Wisconsin. I started with outdoor services, range picking, course set up, garbage collection and later moved into the pro shop. In college, I started working maintenance jobs. Angela Moser: My first job in golf was in retail. I sold and fitted golf clubs, equipment and clothing. It was my after-school and weekend job that Getting a start in golf course architecture is hard enough. But suppose you’ve managed that, and worked on some cool projects with some great people. How do you turn that into a career, and win your own work?