Michiel van der Vaart

Date: Tue 26 Nov 2019

10 Questions for ... Michiel van der Vaart MEIGCA

The latest in the popular series of Member Profiles where you can get to know our members better.

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

I loved the game right from the start. Ever since I started playing, I immediately understood that all golf courses were unique and that you could influence this environment. During my years of civil engineer and landscape designer studies I made quite a lot of doodles of routings and golf holes but never realised that one could actually become a professional golf course architect.

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

Admiration is a grand word, but I do like to read about Tom Simpson. He was a well-spoken man alongside being a blessed architect. His quotes are sometimes bold and powerful and very true. It is not for nothing that Alister Mackenzie’s work is known worldwide. Neither Simpson or Mackenzie designed an incredible number of projects. Maybe this is because of their personal involvement in individual projects, something that I myself try to accomplish.

3. What is your proudest design achievement?

Stippelberg Golf Course in The Netherlands is the one that is not only special to me personally, but for our company as well. It won an international award in 2011 - the prestigious 'Golf Inc. Development of the Year Award'

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

  • Formby GC - A true classic. Increasable build up in scenery. One hole surpasses the other.
  • St Andrews - Old Course – This course is a must for all golfers and architects. The history and tradition. Holes 1 and 18 are right in the town centre.
  • Kingsbarns – Building a new course and creating an ‘immediate classic links course’ is, from a golf course architectural point of view, a world class achievement. Kyle Phillips managed to do this under the watchful eye of St Andrews. The holes are a lot of fun to play.

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

Not only towards customers but towards yourself as well, continuously proclaiming that it is not a hobby but a profession. A good architect will really make the difference!

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

The play areas are usually only half of the total project area. The other areas can be arranged and managed as nature. We follow and enhance regional and rural nature objectives. It has been proven that biodiversity is almost always improved when creating a golf course.

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

The ‘gamification’ will have its impact on the game of golf. There could be more room for shorter courses – 3 holes or 6 holes? On the other hand, I do hope that the essence of the game will not change.

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

Location does make a huge difference. If you have sea view on every other hole. If you have lots of space around the individual golf holes. Care for the details, not only in the design but in everything!

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

Read, play and eat golf! Follow the passion and try to hook up with an architect who is already established.

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

There is actually nothing more satisfying than being able to ‘create’ new landscapes where people spend their free time enjoying ‘the game’ and good company.

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