Golf course design/renovation is a competitive business, especially with the number of current and former players that are involved in the business.
These teams can throw out names such as Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Fred Couples to name a few. Then you have your designers such as Pete Dye, Gil Hanse and Robert Trent Jones, names that have become synonymous with the creation or re-creation of courses.
Finally, you have companies that may not be household names amongst the generally naïve golf population, but at the end of the day, they stand toe-to-toe with any golf course design or renovation company in the world.
Such a company is Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design.
In business for 20 years, Origins has become a staple of the industry, so much so that in making presentations, then pitching a bid, the company has developed a simple, and effective approach.
“It’s totally different today than it was 20 years ago,” said Origins Golf Design CEO/CFO W. Charles Davison, a co-founder of the company with Eckenrode. “Today it’s all about selling our resume – what we’ve done. Our portfolio has really grown over the 20 years. Today we sell who we are, what we’ve done, and what we know.”
With good reason.
Locally – California speaking – Origins has been involved with in terms of Renovations/Restorations/Long Range Master Plan/Turf Reduction include La Jolla Country Club, Virginia Country Club (Long Beach), Orinda Country Club, Palos Verdes Golf Club, Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club, and most recently, the iconic Diablo Country Club.
In terms of the firm’s course design portfolio there is a broad range of projects, from the incredible 9-hole seaside course at The Links of Terranea Golf Club in Palos Verdes, to the stunning, player friendly Twin Dolphin Golf Club in Los Cabos that Eckenrode co-designed with Fred Couples.
Diablo is a perfect example of what makes Origins special, an elite company when it comes to renovation and restoration. Eckenrode was a successful amateur golfer and growing up playing the legendary Pasatiempo Golf Club in the hills overlooking Santa Cruz.
Playing on the course that was designed by Alister MacKenzie, Eckenrode developed a keen sense of the historical nature for classic golf course design. Today he, along with senior designer Andy Frank, place the history of a course as a priority.
“On historic courses we do an extensive amount of research on the course,” explained Davison. “We spend a lot of time with the club historian, if there is one. We pay attention to the history of and the intent of the original design.”
Which is exactly what was done at Diablo. A classic old-school course was not compromised in bringing the facility up to date. A wonderful course that embraces the past is still in place.
One thing I found fascinating in talking with Davison is that there are many phases of a redesign or renovation.
In addition to the basics, a major part of the services offered by Origins includes a long-range master plan, that element, that gives the facility a road map for future green committees and superintendents to make changes that are harmonious with all of the strategies and design elements of the golf course .
Often, the long-range plans are an integral element in decisions that are made due to budget restraints, a document that lends itself to phasing projects if necessary. Origins will use these Long-Range Master Plans as a foundation for all future work.
“We suggest what we see that needs to be improved,” explained Davison. “It’s probably a scenario that is not going to be done all at one time. Golf courses long-range master plans are an exceptionally valuable tool.”
One other facet is turf reduction. Maintenance is one expense that can be controlled at a course and especially in times of a drought, reducing the amount of turf can reduce the amount of maintenance, and in turn, operating costs.
Origins was the golf course architect on the renovation on the Quail Lodge and Golf Club in Carmel. I had a chance to play the course shortly after it was completed, and it was amazing. They blended the existing course with tee, bunkers, and lake renovations, but kept the course true to its original design.
In the end, that is the goal for Origins.
“This is the clients golf course,” said Davison. “We tell them what we think should be done, but the final analysis and decision always belongs to the club. Our philosophy is to help the client make their course a great golf course. We listen to their vision, then advise them how that may be accomplished.”
Origins is one of many quality design firms that we as golfers are blessed to have either designing, renovating or restoring courses that we enjoy. What appeals to me most about Origins is their dedications to the historical aspect of a course.
I am old-school when it comes to course design and whenever possible, history needs to be embraced and carried on to future generations.
For more information on Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design, as well as to see a list of the courses they have either designed or renovated, please visit www.originsgolfdesign.com.
By Dennis Miller