Career path examples

Ross McMurray

I wanted to be a golf course designer from quite a young age. I suppose I must have started playing golf when I was about ten years old and I soon became interested in how courses were laid out and the strategy of particular golf holes. I would make up my own golf course designs and study courses I played or read about. When I discussed being a golf course architect with my careers adviser at school he suggested that I should study Landscape Architecture as this was the closest degree course he could find, so I went to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to do just that.

I have to say that the disciplines I learned from Landscape Architecture have helped hugely in my career. From soil science and arboriculture to designing sweeping landscapes and urban squares, all these have benefited my ability to design golf courses. Perhaps most importantly I learned the process of design and then how to present a finished scheme.

After that I was just incredibly lucky to hear of a job being offered at Cotton Pennink (a long established golf course architecture firm), when I was about to start a year-out job with a local authority as a trainee landscape architect. I got an interview and was offered the position. That was the end of landscape architecture for me. I’d got the job of a lifetime and I wasn’t about to pass up that opportunity!

Click here to read more about Ross.

Tom Mackenzie

When I was six I saw a golf course being built on farmland near my home. Seven years later I started to play the game on that course. I always loved everything to do with landscapes and when trying to choose a career, I looked in Yellow Pages under landscape. The first thing that came up was Landscape Architecture. I visited a practice near my school and I knew then that this was what I wanted to do. I gained an Honours degree in Landscape Architecture from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and specialised in topics potentially related to golf such as turf science etc. I also took a year out before university and went and caddied on the European Tour and did some greenkeeping to broaden my understanding of the game.

As a result of this I hoped that I might specialise in golf design but never really thought that it would happen.....It is worth following your heart and not just your head.

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Christian Lundin

Before applying to the Institute's Diploma Course I studied to become a building engineer and was working as a greenkeeper. That background gave me a good base to stand on while taking the course to get a good knowledge of golf course architecture. My aim with the course was to use it as a springboard into the business and during the second seminar I was offered a job with a Senior Member of the EIGCA. To work at a golf design office while studying the course was really tough but I believe it was the best way to thoroughly learn the profession.

After working for a golf design office in Ireland for a couple of years I have now moved back to my home country (Sweden) and am running my own golf design company. The Diploma Course, despite the many hours needed for all the assignments, is an experience I wouldn't have wanted to miss. All the people I met have given me friends for life and the knowledge I got during those two years I couldn't have got anywhere else.

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Ken Moodie

Growing up in Scotland and having played golf from an early age the game was in my blood but I had never considered making a career from it. At school I had been keen on art and clay sculpture in particular, and had briefly thought about becoming a sculptor. However, I realised that it would be extremely difficult to make a living from it. I had also considered following my father into architecture or even studying engineering since I had been good at maths and physics, and had a passion for design. In the end I decided to study Landscape Architecture since it combined my love of the outdoors with an interest in plants and the environment.

In 1983, I was fortunate to gain a place at Heriot Watt University, in my home town of Edinburgh, which had a nationally renowned Landscape Architecture school. Unknown to me at the time but it had already produced one golf course architect – Cameron Sinclair – and there were two others taking the course at the time; Ross McMurray who was in my year and Tom Mackenzie in the year below. Both Ross and Tom had decided to specialise in golf course design early on and I was inspired by their enthusiasm to consider it as a career. I had mistakenly thought that I could design the odd golf course whilst practising as a Landscape Architect but when I had my first experience of golf course design, using the site of the Loch Lomond golf course before it was built for my final year options project, I realised that it was a highly specialist field. I thoroughly enjoyed the project and decided that I would apply for a job with a golf course architecture practice when I left university.

Luckily for me, at the end of the 1980’s the golf industry was beginning a boom and I did not have long to wait for my first design job with the firm of Hawtree & Son. They were expanding into the French market and setting up an office in Paris, so they had a vacancy in the Woodstock office in the UK. I was very fortunate to benefit from nine years working with them on projects large and small throughout Europe, before starting my own practice in 1998. It has been an extremely fulfilling profession since every project offers a different challenge and I even feel like a sculptor sometimes when creating naturalistic landforms in clay, albeit via the hands of an experienced machine driver.

Click here to read more about Ken.

Golf Course Design
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