george watersMy career in golf course architecture began with a study of the classic links of the British Isles. I knew early on that if I was going to develop a thorough understanding of golf course architecture I was going to have to learn from the ground up, and that would mean spending lots of time walking, working on, and playing the great courses. My study began with a summer working on the greens staff at Royal Dornoch, and traveling throughout Scotland visiting the classic links. I went on to work at places like St George’s (NY), and Merion, studying the smallest details of these great designs and visiting every significant course I encountered along the way.

I learned a lot about golf course architecture during my years traveling and visiting courses, but it wasn’t until I began working with Tom Doak that I learned how to apply that knowledge to actually designing and building a golf course that fit with the natural terrain and offered interesting strategy and enjoyment for all levels of golfer. I was fortunate to win a summer internship with Tom that took me to restoration projects at Yeaman’s Hall, the Mid Ocean Club, and to a new project on a lonely stretch of sand dunes on the coast of Tasmania, the site for Barnbougle Dunes. During this time I learned that having good ideas about golf course architecture was one thing, but actually implementing them took a great deal of time and personal attention in the field.

I went on to earn my Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada, returning to the British Isles for my thesis research on golf courses in the coastal dune landscape.

I spent several months traveling and visiting classic links courses in England, Scotland, and Ireland, studying their relationship with the coastal environment and how that relationship shaped the courses themselves.

After graduation I was fortunate to work with Tom Doak again, along with other leading architects like Coore and Crenshaw, Kyle Phillips, Jim Urbina, and Jeff Mingay. Each has their own way of doing things, but they all have a deep respect for the land, and the traditions and history of the game. I participated in the restoration of classic courses like Pasatiempo and Pinehurst Number 2, and helped build some modern classics like Barnbougle Dunes, Sebonack, and the Renaissance Club at Archerfield. I was able to work with holes and features from their rough shaping to the final finishing details, learning how each step in the process influences the final product.

All of these experiences taught me that truly unique and interesting golf course architecture is a product of the landscape, rather than something that is developed behind a desk. A commitment to time on site formed the foundation for my education in golf course design and it is central to my own philosophy as an architect. I’ve learned how to get the most from spectacular properties, and those with more subtle gifts, by traveling the world and working with great courses in every setting imaginable. Studying golf course architecture from the ground up has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I love putting into practice all that I’ve learned.