People regularly ask me why architects who are often competing against each other are prepared to volunteer their time for the EIGCA and it is a perfectly reasonable question.
For decades now, golf course architects have been battling to gain the same kind of acceptance as architects and civil engineers. As things stand, anyone can set up as a golf course architect and an organisation like the EIGCA is the only way to show the difference between amateur designers and those who approach golf course design professionally. I cannot speak for other council members and past-presidents but I give my time precisely to drive forward professionalism in our field. I simply would not do it if I did not believe that we were not making progress on that front.
Professionalism does not mean that all of our members design courses that look the same. We are a broad church in terms of design styles, but being a member is a guarantee to clients that a member architect adheres to agreed ethical standards, wants to learn more about his profession and is prepared to share knowledge for the good of the industry. A vital part of that is our education programme where members give time to teach aspiring young architects who have to work really hard to join the Institute. We believe that producing well trained young architects of the future is a cornerstone of what a professional organisation should do.
Another part of the drive to increase professionalism is our Raising the Standard of Sustainable Golf Course Development programme. It has been created in the closest cooperation with the Golf Environment Organisation and is the only education programme on Sustainability and Golf Course Design in the world. A professional organisation has to takes its responsibilities towards sustainability seriously and this is a big commitment for our members and our Institute, so much so that we have appointed a course director to ensure that the highest academic standards are achieved. The programme involves 35 pre-recorded webinars, followed by the production of a case study that is then independently verified by GEO’s Sustainability Associates with successful members then joining our register of Competence in Sustainable Golf Course Design. This is a voluntary programme for our members and more than 75% of the practices for whom our members work are represented.
Other aspects of Continuing Professional Development are also important and our annual conference is valuable in covering topical subjects. Plans are also underway to create a library of pre-recorded webinars using the same format as the “Raising the Standard” programme.
We have made great strides over the last few years and, during my Presidency, I will endeavour to continue the promotion of our profession across Europe and beyond.
I am absolutely convinced that all of this is good for our profession and for golf courses now and in the future. Huge investments are required to develop golf courses and clients simply cannot risk using amateur or unqualified designers.
President of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects