The superintendent/architect relationship

By |  November 12, 2018 0 Comments
Headshot: Jared Nemitz

Jared Nemitz

Partnerships have the utmost importance in our business, whether it’s with our club managers, assistants, vendors, golfers or others. Partnerships make the good times fun and the bad times just a little bit easier.

In these strong economic times, many courses are renovating to remain competitive and to meet the changing desires of golfers. One important but mostly overlooked partnership is with an architect. Architects can be instrumental in developing short- and long-term master plans, winning support for projects and in implementing those plans.

Superintendents and architects are professionals who bring extremely important aspects of the business to the table, each playing important but different roles that, in turn, make projects and planning more successful.

The superintendent is the club’s representative. He or she must ensure that projects or plans are completed with the club’s best interests in mind. They are entrusted to make sure that the project is completed on time, on budget and to a high standard. It’s the superintendent with whom the architect is going to spend the most time of anyone at the club.

The architect’s role is to combine the natural beauty of the property with a great layout and routing while enhancing the best features of the property. He or she also ensures the highest level of golfer satisfaction while fostering the game of golf. A good architect can bring extensive knowledge of golf’s history, items they see as important to golfers today, and where the game seems to be trending. Their job is to combine the needs of the club with the expectation level of the golf course maintenance department. It’s important that both the superintendent and architect work together for success.

It amazes me how often I hear officials of golf courses and clubs considering renovations comment on how they don’t need an architect. One of the biggest pet peeves of superintendents is the golfer who has the best lawn in the neighborhood. This individual has a great looking lawn, therefore they are an “expert” on how to manage a golf course and constantly wants to “help” you do your job.

The same applies to architects. Superintendents are experts in their property and growing grass. However, we are not architects. Just like the aforementioned golfer, the superintendent can have enough knowledge to be dangerous. Key word: dangerous.

I saw firsthand early on the importance of the superintendent/architect relationship. Our golf course needed a full-scale renovation to address many issues stemming from lack of functional drainage, a new irrigation system, “tired” layout, too many trees, etc. The architect brought an outside perspective on the needs of the golf course and the golf course maintenance team, but also on how the club and its golfers would benefit. It sometimes can help the decision makers to have someone other than the superintendent speak to the needs of the golf course.

Having a good architect also can mean daily help. I talk to my architect of record every few months to acquire his insight on changes — big or small — we are thinking about making. It’s always nice to be able to bounce ideas off someone with a different perspective and much more knowledge of architecture.

When looking for an architect, look for one proven in the industry and recognized by the American Society of Golf Course Architects. Most important, find the architect who fits well with you and understands the needs of your current facility. If they can’t understand where you are taking the facility, the best architect in the country won’t be beneficial. This relationship can be long term and needs to fit right. Take your time and make the right decision.

Post a Comment