I find myself at an interesting cross-road in life where all my original golf architecture goals have been achieved and now the question is what is important and where do I go from here.
At 21, being the type of person I am, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do in my lifetime. It’s a fun list that touched on my hobbies, love of travel and passion for golf course architecture. There were four things related to golf:
1. Design a Golf Course7. Play at St. Andrew’s with my father
8. Join the American Society of Golf Architects
25. Write an Article for a Golf Magazine
It took going out on my own and building the course at Laval to feel that I finally did accomplished the very first goal on my list “to my satisfaction”. In my opinion the design is ¼ Routing, ¼ Philosophy, ¼ Hole Design and ¼ Details. You need to fully engaged in “all” of those decisions to design a course. Laval was that project.
Interestingly there was no mention on my goals for family life or running a design business.
|Me, Remi, Mike and Luc at the start of Laval|
Starting a Business – Was Never a Goal
My father always lamented not starting a business. That was his dream. Not mine. My father was terrific at turning around businesses and did so. I’m very much my father’s son and perhaps some of his business acumen was passed down.
I didn’t think I was an entrepreneur by nature. And for that reason I enjoyed the comfort of working inside a successful firm. But my growing frustrations as a designer and a complete disagreement on how to grow a business in the new environment we found ourselves in told me I needed to control my own destiny.
Running a successful business is far harder than designing a golf course. But it’s something I’ve come to enjoy because there is a little more art and a little less science than I would have initially thought.
So here I am, seven years later. Do I want something different? Am I content? What are my goals now?
If You Want Something Different – Change your Approach
It’s human nature to spend too much time acknowledging what’s working and ignoring what isn’t working. Being self-critical I can honestly say my glaring weakness is my lack of a network to bring in new work.
I’m quite good at finding renovation work and I know most of the key players personally. I’ve expanded in Canada and the US through contacts I continue to make. Being self-critical I need to show more interest and make a greater effort to work out West.
I would like to do more new projects. If I want that to happen I need to build my network of people that will put me in touch with people looking to build new courses. I need to get out and meet with key players who can help me find those projects. Being self-critical, I need to become better at networking.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not been a complete failure on this end. I did look at a couple of projects for neither business at the request of individuals that called me.
This year included a waterfront site east of Toronto. The project would easily turn heads, but the price of the land is a stumbling block so we remain patient that the price will become more realistic with time.
A second was in Saskatoon regarding a very hilly property, but additional is required to make the site yield the development numbers to make the whole thing work.
I also got involved with a proposal to acquire an existing course. I think the course is decidedly average despite the great site. The plan is to develop part of the course and rebuild new holes using an exciting piece of adjacent property. This would be a fantastic project because I know how good the course would become.
The number one goal for me is finding a new golf course project. I’m going to change my approach and see what I can do to find new golf course work.
I’m going to spend a little more effort trying to find some renovation work out West and build a presence in the golf community out there. I think it’s an area that I’ve neglected and an opportunity that I’m missing out on.
The final one is I’m going to write that book I often talk about.
I’ve kicked this around for a while. I’m done kicking this around. I want to bring the last seven years of writing into some semblance of order and publish it as a book. I know that I won’t be able to find a book deal, nor do I care, because I want to write a book for myself.
I’ve never listed it as a goal at any point, not because I didn’t have that desire, but because I thought I wasn’t capable. I finally believe I can write a book. Like starting my business I find myself with the exact same thought. “It’s better to try and fail than not try at all.”
The goal is to self-publish a small run of books and give them to my close friends as gifts. I have no worries about the content. I have plenty, including more than few well thought through insights that I think make for an interesting read. I think I’ve settled on a format. The struggle has always been the thread that links the entire collection that will make it read as a book. I will look for the central narrative this holiday season and get back to you on this January 7th.
That is the end of The Year in Review, Happy Holidays everyone. I'll probably post some New Year's Resolutions before the end of the year.