Golf Course Architecture - Issue 75, January 2024

51 and said, ‘I’m not ruining a lifetime’s reputation by cutting and running’.” “One of the projects was Vidauban in southern France, which was Jones’s own pride and joy, and which he was developing himself. It was one of the three best sites I’ve ever seen, but it was a mess. The original masterplan was 54 holes, hundreds of houses and three hotels – he saw it as his legacy project. But without Bobby [Jones’s son, Robert] it would never have happened. He saved that job. It was an amazing feat.” Slessor returned to the US in summer 1990, and in spring 1992 he married – to an Englishwoman. “After we’d been married six months, she said to me, ‘I can’t live in Florida anymore, I need to go home’,” he says. “Jones had just agreed to do the first course at Celtic Manor, Roman Road, so I said, ‘I’ll go and run the job’. And eventually, taking on that project led to his big move. “Ian Woosnam was appointed as touring pro for Celtic Manor, and I met his manager, who was a senior guy at IMG,” he explains. “I got to know him, and he asked me what I planned to do next. I said that I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to go back to the US and a transatlantic marriage. He said, ‘You should come talk to us, we’ve just started a design firm with the European Tour’, and after a while, I joined EGD to do construction. Schloss Nippenburg near Stuttgart was my first job with them. And two years later I moved into my present job – which I have now been doing for close to 30 years!” Schloss Nippenburg is billed as a Bernhard Langer design, and in those early days, EGD dealt almost entirely in pro golfer ‘signature’ courses, an obvious strategy given its ownership. But in the last 15 years, that has all changed. Though the company still has a ‘Signature Design’ tab on its website, and Slessor says it would happily undertake such projects, the most recent project listed on that tab is the Plage des Nations course near the Moroccan capital of Rabat, a Colin Montgomerie signature design that opened in 2017. “The fundamental shift happened from 2008 onwards,” says Slessor. “The financial crash happened, and Tiger had his troubles at the same time. I thought clients would start asking for a disrepute clause in their contracts, in case their signature player got into trouble, but it never happened. What happened was that clients became much more sophisticated and became much more aware of the relative value of marketing Photo: EGD Slessor was instrumental in the 2016 renovation of the West course at Wentworth