10 Questions for ... Marco Martin MEIGCA
1. Why did you want to be a golf course architect?
After completing my studies as a Civil & Agronomist Engineer, I decided to do for final project for graduation an 18-holes golf course project in my home town, as a way to improve the promotion and number of visitors to my home town. That project was the first 18-holes design and engineering project ever presented at an Engineer School in Spain as a graduation project. My education as an Agronomist engineer and my passion and attraction for golf, led me to my career as a Golf Course Architect.
2. Which golf course architects do you admire and why?
I mostly admire American golf architects in the last 40 years. Names like Robert Trent Jones, Pete Dye …. but really my favourite is Tom Fazio. I really like the “frame design style”, like looking for a nice picture in every single corner of the golf course. I have been strongly influenced in designing golf courses in housing developments, in new golf residential masterplan. In most of my projects, my clients are looking for a beautiful place to live with unique views onto a golf course. Our work as golf architects is to create an attractive terrain to attract golfers to play and play again.
3. What is your proudest design achievement?
Every golf course designed has a little of you, in many ways, stories, memories, learnings. Maybe my favourite golf course is Aguilon Golf, Pulpí, Almeria, Spain - considered as "The best desert style Golf Course in Europe".
4. What are your favourite three golf courses in the World from a design perspective, and why?
- Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland - The most incredible shaping I have ever seen, in a unique scenario.
- Pebble Beach, California, EEUU - The dream site for every golf course architects, so many beautiful holes along the coast.
- TPC Sawgrass Stadium, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla, EEUU - Pete Dye, the genius. Pete opened a new style and golf design school playing back in the last century against the critics from all golf sectors (top players, media, regular golfers). Truly a golf architect defending his creation against all. This is an example of how the good ideas and imagination of a great golf architect overcame the golf media and the critics.
5. What are the greatest challenges you face as a golf course architect?
- To fully satisfy the targets of my clients when they sign off a golf design project with me.
- To be proud of myself and being happy when I get the best golf course suited to the particular restrictions of each project, site and location.
- Study, and study the site, to get the best golf course with the maximum integration with the existing terrain and vegetation.
6. What environmental or sustainable initiatives have you incorporated into your designs?
- The most important is the use of urban waste water in 26 of the 28 golf course projects that I have designed and are already open to play.
- Maximum previous site analysis to get a great golf course with the maximum integration to the existing land. Like minimising landscape budget by integrating most of the existing trees, natural features, rocks.
- Use as many local materials as possible, no matter the colour, just good for drainage and playable condition, to save bringing materials from long distances.
- Maximum use of rain water in all the projects, than force us to include a minimum of 50.000 to 150.000 m3 in almost every golf course design in arid weather.
7. How do you see the golf course design industry changing in the next 20 years?
The use of modern technologies is already influencing a lot of our work, in many ways:
- As modern golf architects the initial plans are done by hand in very great detail, grading plans , green detail, bunkers details. Later our Cad Assistants digitalize this work and put it into 3-D. With that information the modern bulldozers with GPS, without a shaper, only a driver, are able to build our designs. So this saves a lot of money on shapers.
- Modern technologies also help to save a lot of money as we can undertake studies on a site thousands of miles away in our office. This saves money for the developers and also provides much more accurate data.
In my conclusion, the use of modern technologies in all phases of a golf design will be fundamental for getting better golf courses at a more decent costs.
8. What makes a golf course great rather than just good?
When you get the feeling of seeing or playing something unique - in design, shaping, creativity, beauty, variety, playability, landscape integration, and maintenance quality.
9. What advice would you give to an aspiring golf course architect?
- Travel as much you can visiting and playing golf courses in different countries, weathers, and environments.
- Speak two or three foreign languages.
- Get a university education in agricultural and civil engineering programs.
- Get familiar with modern technologies (cad design, earthmoving programs, 3- D presentation, and it is very important to get as much environmental sensitive education as possible).
10. What do you enjoy about being a golf course architect?
- Discovering the power of a simple pencil in transforming the land.
- The satisfaction of having a creative profession.
- To visit, work and meet people in more than 30 countries all over the world.
- The satisfaction of playing golf with golfers and enjoying the work you have done.
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