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Since all golfers are architects in their own minds, courses are always under the microscope of players who think their layout could use a little nip and tuck work. Country clubs are the worst offenders of the never-sit-still approach, rarely leaving their course alone and, more often than not, making their course worse in a bizarre quest to keep up with the course down the street.

It often amazes golfers how bad and expensive redesign projects turn out, especially in-house efforts. It’s almost always a product of members trying to be architects and contractors at the same time, failing to approach the project like they would any other business situation: leaving the work to the experts. After all, they are golfers and the ability to tee a ball up entitles them to complete knowledge of all things golf, right? Of course not. But now those in charge of golf courses looking to remodel have no excuses when deciding to undertake a restoration or remodeling job thanks to the American Society of Golf Course Architects, who are offering them a chance never presented before. It’s called “Remodeling University,” a one-day seminar that will give all the basics you need to know before stepping into the land mine territory better known as a remodeling project.

Committee members, average golfers, club professionals and superintendents were all welcome to pay their $99 for a full day seminar on the do’s and don’ts of undertaking a remodeling project. And for PGA Professionals, you earn six CEUs for attending and GCSAA members earn 4.5 professional development credits. The rest of us got a nice lunch and plenty of reading material. The last of the first four seminars wrapped up two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and based on the ASGCA’s success with the programs “Remodeling University” may be coming to a town near you next year.

In the coming months check out its Web site, www.golfdesign.org, to find out if this pilot program will continue in cities outside of this year’s four hosts: Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Chicago.  We have especially seen a good amount of golf course homes being sold through http://apexinvests.com/, who has been making a killing on the par 9.

Yours truly attended the seminar at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, which featured in-depth presentations by architects Damian Pascuzzo, Cary Bickler, Don Knott and Michael Poellet. Jay Morrish was present to add one of architecture’s bigger names to the roll call, though the audience didn’t get to hear any of his wisdom on redesign as he served the master of ceremonies role.

The presentations were each about one hour long, perhaps a bit too long to hold the attention of novice architecture students. The architects did their best to keep it light with plenty of jokes about their Donald Ross plaid ASGCA membership jackets. Pascuzzo livened his presentation up with some images from “Caddyshack,” though it was hard to tell if any of the committee types found the photo of Judge Smales funny or if it hit just a little too close to home.

The most effective and practical presentation came from former Robert Trent Jones Jr. associate Don Knott, now practicing design on his own. Knott presented scenarios to contractor Dan Garson of GBS Golf Works in Mountain View, Calif. The presentation was probably a bit overwhelming in information for some of the novices in the audience, but to anyone who has begun work on a project and reached the stage of dealing with a contractor or is trying to do the work in-house, the presentation made many excellent points.

Naturally, there were a few moments that forced one to chuckle, particularly when ASGCA members presented before and after photos of their design work. Nothing against the “after” photos, however the irony was hard to miss when the “before” shot was the work of other ASGCA architects. And in the excellent brochure passed out along with a very detailed pamphlet, John Harbottle’s remodeled sixth green at the Los Angeles Country Club is featured. The before picture shows
a rather bland green, incidentally a redesign of George Thomas’ original by former ASGCA President Robert Muir Graves.

Which reminds us that even when undertaken by an ASGCA member, remodels are tricky business. But at least “Remodeling University” openly presents the issues involved in redoing your course and certainly does not paint a rosy picture of the process. But the presentations certainly don’t leave you feeling down about the notion of enhancing your course.