How to carve out a career in golf-course design


George Waters has emerged as a kind of sage-like figure in the realm of golf-course design. He’s certainly seen the industry across the spectrum and from a variety of angles. When he was younger, he worked on maintenance crews at several golf courses. When he discovered his passion for architecture, he contacted the office of Tom Doak, who suggested he expand his knowledge by exploring links courses.

He did, spending a summer in Dornoch, working and seeing as many different links as possible. After finishing his degree and learning the construction side of the business he became an independent contractor, working for various architects—like Doak, Coore and Crenshaw, Kyle Phillips and Jim Urbina—on designs around the world.

He also wrote the seminal book on the beautiful symbiosis between golf and sandy sites called, “Sand and Golf: How Terrain Shapes the Game.” Waters stepped away from the design side of the profession several years ago to spend time closer to home and now oversees the education component of the USGA’s Green Section.

RELATED: Introducing the “Feed the Ball” podcast, featuring intriguing conversations on golf-course design

In this episode Waters discusses living in Dornoch, whether it’s essential to build concepts and designated strategies into golf holes, what design trends he’s beginning to see change, how average players confront complex strategic questions, the sneaky ability of Pinehurst No. 2 to steal strokes, the difference between a Doak end-product versus Jack Nicklaus or Kyle Phillips, his real opinion of USGA greens and tips for taking great golf course photos.

Click to listen below:

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