Strictly speaking, there aren’t really any specially trained, universally accredited golf course architects. Unlike building architects, formal qualifications for the golf profession don’t exist. As a result, the various golf architect associations worldwide are littered with members who are former green keepers, engineers, retired PGA professionals, landscapers, shapers, draftsmen, construction managers or just plain hobbyists. It seems that anyone with an interest in golf can call himself or herself a “Golf Course Architect”.
In truth, the practice of golf course architecture involves areas of development as diverse as agronomy, irrigation, drainage, construction, earthworks, landscaping and, of course, golf course design. In our view, design itself is the most important element of golf course architecture. Sadly, few of those who call themselves golf course architects have studied the artform seriously and actually become expert in golf course design. This is important, because without interesting and well-considered design your golf course can never reach its full potential.
Darius Oliver of the Global Golf Group is regarded as Australia’s leading authority on golf course design, and offers clubs across the country a unique and independent project management service. Not only has Oliver studied and reviewed more golf courses (good, bad and outstanding) than anyone in the industry, he is the only Australian to have designed a World Top 25 layout. Importantly, he doesn’t pretend to be a golf course architect.
Note: Cape Wickham was ranked #24 in the World by Golf Digest (USA), 2015
Whether a major redevelopment or a minor design upgrade, Oliver’s insight and candor can help ensure that your club gets the best golfing results for its membership. His services include working to identify potential areas of improvement on course, to helping clubs set realistic, and appropriately ambitious, design goals. Having studied the work of more than 120 active golf course architects, he is also able to assist in the search for a suitable designer for any course works, and to provide specialised supervision during both the planning process and the actual course construction works.
While many golf clubs prefer to manage major projects in-house, the reality is that few club administrators are familiar enough with the subject of golf course architecture to make informed design appointments themselves, or to then properly challenge their chosen golf designer.
It’s important for clubs to remember, that Golf Course Architects are not necessarily the fountains of all knowledge, and often don’t understand a golf course as well as the membership. We believe that when it comes to design clubs should be armed with the knowledge of what is realistically achievable on their property and what problems might exist with the plans proposed. We see time and again in golf, that architects promise clients the world, only to later become apologists for the things that went wrong with the project. These are often details that an experienced set of eyes might have picked up in advance.
The amount of money spent at golf clubs across Australia making repairs to redesigned holes is totally unacceptable – and unsustainable. Sadly, more is to come. The only way to prevent continued on-course expenditure at your club is to get the design right. This means hiring the most appropriate course designer for your site and for your budget, and then overseeing both the work proposed and the work being done. The two are often very different.
At Global Golf Group, we understand that design isn’t the only element of golf course architecture, but we believe it to be the most important. Big club or small, major project or minor works, we would be happy to discuss your individual case and work with club officials to ensure that any changes made to your golf course not only improved its holes, but made them more enjoyable for the membership.
design overview, or health check, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your course, as
well as areas of potential improvement
– Helping determine whether holes are in need of restoration, redesign or redevelopment
– Assistance with the drafting of an appropriately ambitious and realistic design brief
– Creating a shortlist of suitable design candidates
– Help with the interviewing process and the review of submitted design proposals
– Analysis of routing plans and design changes proposed by the selected golf architect
– Analysis of any design and construction being carried out at the club
– Information sessions and news updates to fully inform membership of works proposed
– Publicity for the project through new and existing media networks
Known for his frank and forthright commentary, Darius Oliver is a passionate writer, rater, and golf course design consultant. Best known as the author and publisher of the Planet Golf series of books, including the forthcoming Planet Golf Modern Masterpieces, Oliver has reviewed more than 1,500 golf courses globally including each of the World’s Top 100. He has studied golf courses designed by more than 120 active golf course designers.
For many years (2009 – 2016) Oliver was architecture editor at Australian Golf Digest Magazine, and the Chair of the Australian Golf Digest Top 100 Golf Courses in Australia panel.
More recently, he was involved in the development and design of the Cape Wickham Links on King Island in Tasmania. Cape Wickham was recently ranked #24 in the World and #3 in Australia on debut by Golf Digest and Australian Golf Digest Magazines.
“At Cape Wickham, the involvement of Darius Oliver was one of the best decisions I made in the entire project.
I have been building and constructing golf courses for almost 25 years so I probably know more than most golf club committees about what’s involved. If I need help from someone like Darius, then I suggest so does the typical golf club committee. Certainly if it wants to get the best bang for its buck.”
Duncan Andrews, developer of Cape Wickham (full reference available upon request.)
“In looking for the very best option for the club in the redevelopment of the course, I came across Darius Oliver purely by luck. I had personally been unimpressed by the plans that were on the table by our current architect.
I arranged for Darius to spend a day on the course (with the Boards’ approval) and to present to us his thoughts on how Bonnie Doon could improve. His vision differed greatly from the current plans.
His insight into course architecture impressed the Board as a whole and we were unanimous in thinking that Darius had brought much benefit to us in that meeting. His vision for how holes could play, supported by his remarkable knowledge of courses from around the world led us to believe that Bonnie Doon did in fact have the potential to be far better than what we had accepted it to be.
Darius returned to Bonnie Doon again, giving freely of his time and we have now had enough trust in him to follow his recommendations.
Darius has been extremely professional in his dealings with Bonnie Doon Golf Club and this along with his golfing knowledge and his eye for detail makes him a very valuable asset for any club to have.
I would highly recommend Darius to any club who seeks support in any way if their intentions are to move forward to have a better golf course.”
Paschal Flynn, Former Captain Bonnie Doon Golf Club
PO BOX 333,
Mornington VIC 3931 AUSTRALIA