James Edwards

Date: Tue 08 Aug 2017

10 Questions for ... James Edwards AEIGCA

James Edwards

1. Why did you want to be a golf course architect?

… I love golf, travel and design. I simply combined my three passions and I effectively created my dream career. Having played top-level amateur, college and professional golf mixed with an Architecture degree and the EIGCAs Diploma in Edinburgh meant I was destined to be an GCA.

2. Which golf course architects do you admire and why?

Modern Day, Pete Dye. From as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed watching his one-of-a-kind strategic courses on TV. He is the only modern-day architect with a recognisable brand of design. I wish I’d seen a golden age architect at work and to have seen their work in person. Today, we only see parts/versions/restorations of them which is a shame.

3. What is your proudest design achievement.

Cumberwell Park, Par 3 Course, Bradford on Avon, England. I have worked on renovations, restorations and new builds since 2000, but I am most proud of our design at one of the Countries leading golf clubs responding to the sports needs of producing shorter, quicker golf for the time-poor golfer.

4. What are your favourite three golf courses in the World from a design perspective, and why?

I have 4 for different reasons:

  • Sawgrass is the most exciting designed/strategic golf course in the World
  • Foreland, is the quickest and best example of a par 3 course I’ve ever played for all categories and I’ve never got bored playing it.
  • Shinnecock Hills variety of design features and seamless routing throughout its landscape and
  • Sunningdale Old is the golf course I’d play as my last ever round. The finest example of British Inland Golf on all levels and a truly magical sense of place.

5. What are the greatest challenges you face as a golf course architect

The greatest challenge we face today is the ever-changing golf market, its participation numbers and affordable golf. Our response must be to respond to the need for shorter, quicker and faster golf. We must attract new golfers to the game by creating facilities to match the needs of the time-poor golfer and the entire family without restricting them to a traditional membership in the first instance.

6. What environmental or sustainable initiatives have you incorporated into your designs?

We always work closely with the contractors we select and the clients we work with to provide the most environmentally conscious design outcomes and solutions. We believe in sustainable practices/materials and our projects being economically viable, socially just and environmentally friendly with water harvesting being a key factor of any project success to name one of many.

7. How do you see the golf course design industry changing in the next 20 years?

We will see a new, bold type of architect and architecture in 20-years. They will have their own visions of golf and new playing fields to explore. We have always taken inspiration from the old course and its reversible routing which we tabled in 2005 as the way forward giving the golfer 36 holes of golf instead of 18. We have always been an advocate of multi-routed golf courses and this seems to be gaining momentum and we see this being an extremely important development in golf course design in the coming years.

8. What makes a golf course great rather than just good?

How good the component parts are. The collective combination of:

  • the site and location
  • the routing and its flow
  • the strategy and shot excitement.
  • the features and their importance
  • the conditioning and attention to detail
  • the excitement and hole memorability.

Make a golf course great rather than good. A rare beast indeed.

9. What advice would you give to an aspiring golf course architect

Be different. Be creative. Be unique. Be a pioneer.

10. What do you enjoy about being a golf course architect.

The responsibility of working on the largest canvass imaginable, of any artist and creating sports facilities for many thousands of people to enjoy day in and day out. Working with visionary clients who put their trust in me (and members) to produce their dream outcome is a huge honour and seeing enjoyment in their faces on the tees and greens will never be beaten.

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