Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

49 Photo: EGD Ironically, one of the most important men in the global golf architecture business is not known for practising as a golf architect. Jeremy Slessor, for almost 30 years the managing director of European Golf Design, the design company of the European Tour Group, is perfectly qualified to design golf courses, having done a lot of it in his years working for Robert Trent Jones Sr, but spends his time running the EGD business, and mostly leaves the design work to Ross McMurray, Gary Johnston, Robin Hiseman and Dave Sampson, the four lead architects who collectively now make EGD one of the largest operations in the industry. Like many in the golf architecture business, Slessor had a slightly complex route into the industry. “I started playing golf in my early teens and, when I found myself needing a summer job at the age of 15, I went to work on the greens crew at Wimbledon Common – I was a member of the London Scottish club,” he says. Wimbledon Common, where seven holes were originally created by members of the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers, who were stationed on the common, is regarded as the oldest course in England that has remained in constant use. The London Scottish club, officially founded in 1865, is England’s third oldest golf club, after Royal Blackheath and Royal North Devon. “I worked on the Wimbledon Common course part-time while I was doing my A-levels, and then got a job at Royal Mid-Surrey, and after that at Royal Wimbledon, but I realised that the only way to progress was through the shoes of dead men,” he continues. “I looked at education for greenkeepers, but realised there wasn’t much available in the UK at the time. I knew that there were courses available in the US, but I didn’t know anything about what and where, so I wrote to Frank Hannigan, who was in charge of the USGA at the time, asking for help.” That letter to Hannigan, who became the USGA’s fifth executive director in 1983, was the action that kick-started Slessor’s career, though in a rather surprising way. “I was at home one evening when the phone rang,” he says. “My mother answered it and called to me ‘It’s for you, an American’, and it was Mr Hannigan! He said, ‘I got your letter: I don’t know much about this sort of thing, but the head of our Green Section, Bill Bengeyfield, does. You should talk to him’. So I did, and Bill told me, ‘These are the five schools you should apply to’. I followed his instructions, and was accepted by all of them! I had no idea which one I should choose, so I called Bill in California. He For almost 30 years, Jeremy Slessor has run European Golf Design, one of the largest operations in the industry. Adam Lawrence spoke to him about his career.