Selecting the Design Team
Few decisions will impact the quality of a project as much as the selection of the design team. To obtain the best site…one capable of producing a quality golf course and enviable lifestyle for your market…it is imperative to precede these objectives with the selection of a quality design team.
Your foremost goal should be to assemble a competent and focused team of professionals capable of providing answers to your questions and solutions to your problems in your specified time frame. While it may be tempting from a cost-cutting standpoint to try and assemble information yourself, I strongly advise against this idea. There are too many considerations involved in design that take years of experience to understand. You simply cannot do it all yourself. My first recommendation is to hire a qualified project manager who shares your vision for quality. Your project manager should be a good communicator capable of working with you and the selected team.
When you hire a project manager, it’s important to give that person a good environment to manage. Spend the time and money to obtain a person you can trust and feel completely confident with at all times. Next, and most important, delegate authority with the job, realizing your time as an owner, partner, or developer is more cost effective and productive in many other areas.
In my opinion, while production equaled sales during the 80’s and 90’s, in the future the buyer will be looking for lifestyle and value combined. I believe that my clients are the most important members of the team, as their leadership and vision will produce quality results from the team. Be a leader, not a manager, and you’ll get outstanding results from your team.
Before embarking on your search for a team, write an outline detailing the scope of the project, and list professionals you think you’ll need. From your initial agency meetings, this outline will be fairly simple to compose yet may be expanded during extensive discussions with your retained professionals. Do you hire people based on personalities? Certainly. You want a good rapport with the people you are hiring, but they should be retained based upon their education, talent and past track record.
A couple of key points to look for when interviewing potential team members include an individual’s desire to discuss previous projects and the ability to meet schedules and deadlines. Also, investigate other areas of a firm’s talent pool such as drafting personnel and administrative staff. Check out the entire structure of the firm rather than basing all of your evaluation with the principle.
The National Association of Golf Course Builder’s study shows that 21.5 months is the average construction time in the United States. This does not include design or permitting time. Since you’ll be working with this team for a lengthy time period, try to address issues, however small, before the project starts. Some questions to ask include: What are current and future workloads? What are travel expectations? How much competition will you have for their time? Emphasize that all team members will be expected to attend meetings where reports of progress are discussed and problems are solved. Listen to your team and share their ideas, knowledge, experience, and mistakes. In other words, leave the egos at the door! With regard to current market trends, I strongly believe future sales will come for those who emphasize quality. The two major factors that enhance quality are lifestyle and choice.
Clearly, quality does not just happen. It is created first by selecting an appropriate site, and then by selecting a first-rate design team that shares your vision.