Feature Interview with Par O’Dee
You famously uttered the immortal words, ‘God intended me to be a golf course architect.’ Please explain.
Well, you see, I have been blessed with many talents and when I saw architects starting to pocket coin, I had an epiphany. I love the concept of not spending much time on site, bossing minions about from the comfort of my well-stocked office and all the while, going cha-ching!
Somehow, you stay busy. How hectic is your travel schedule?
Not very. Once I was examining a topo map and the property appeared so good, I was tempted to go see it for myself. I resisted, however, because I didn’t want to set a precedent.
Why was that?
Well, it was in Nebraska and who the hell wants to go there? Do you have any idea how far it is from water? Trust me when I say that there is no land there good for golf.
Interesting. Moving on, who are your favorite Golden Age architects?
I really don’t have any and frankly, I feel sorry for those guys.
Why is that?
First of all, they are all dead, so not much joy there, eh? Second, some of those fools worked for little to no money, so again, not much joy. Finally, they didn’t have access to the heavy machinery that I do and were stuck with having to work with the land.
And why is that a problem?
Let’s face it; if the owner doesn’t see a lot of up-turned dirt, his cheque book stays ‘shutus-maximus.’ The old boys were stuck in a vicious circle of not moving much dirt and not getting much pay. I broke through that barrier and my motto ‘More dirt, more coin’ has served me well.
So, how do you explain that today’s minimalist architects are the ones that warrant the projects on the best land?
Not a clue. Both my design style and billing structure support Maximalism.
You sound like a general in Caesar’s army.
The only seizure I know occurs when banks repossess a Maximalist design that alas, can be quite expensive to maintain but that’s the price you pay for what the French endearingly call a piece of resistance.
Do you have any favorite books by other architects?
Yes, I like the Essays by Harry Colt because it is really short and it’s cool to say you appreciate his work. Mind you, I haven’t read it but a copy lies on the coffee table in my waiting room and it garners me many compliments.
Tell us about the natural attributes of your new site.
Don’t worry about it – nothing that some mounding won’t fix and liven up the proceedings. By the time I finish with it, it will look and play like my other 300 courses. And that’s a good thing!
Well, that’s why the owner hired me, because he loves my work. If I deviate from it, he might not like it as much. Plus, if my work can’t be stereotyped, who will hire me next? Owners need to know they are betting on a sure thing and getting a set product.
I see. What’s a favorite short par 4 that you have recently designed?
Ran, honestly, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. All my recent creations are extraordinary. You know that to be true because they were all done under my Super Supreme Signature Collection.
How does your Super Supreme Signature Collection differ from your Supreme Signature Collection?
That’s easy: money. Good golf is expensive golf and if you want great golf, it is going to cost you great gobs. I lobby all my clubs to print on the scorecard how much the course cost to build. Kind of a badge of honor thing, right? Unlike golf, the higher the number, the better, certainly from my perspective.
Moving on ….
Hold on there. More to the point, I hate short par 4s as they hinder my courses from reaching 7,500 yards.
Why is 7,500 yards important?
Haven’t you heard? 7,500 is the new 7,000. It can’t be considered a c-h-a-m-p-i-o-n-s-h-i-p course without bruising length. Plus, you need length for magazine rankings, which is all my owners care about. Even people playing for free find it difficult to say something nice if the course isn’t needlessly long.
Did you say ‘needlessly’?!
Yes. The bottom line is this: we all love golf and the longer we are outside playing it, the happier we should be. My courses average 5 hours to play and therefore provide, literally, double the fun of those silly little heathland courses around London that take only 2 ½ hours to get around.
Can you see building an 8,000 yarder?
Yes, especially if I get a cut from the golf cart path paving company.
Okay then. Apart from your desire to be well off, what influences your designs? For instance, when you travel to Scotland, do you come back with a slew of new ideas?
Flipping blown fuse switches in my basement is the closest I get to a cool, damp place like the UK. My inspiration comes from the Caribbean islands and the many marvelous ways to use rum.
Let’s talk about irrigation.
I just said I like rum.
I meant for golf courses.
Water usage is a front and central issue these days.
Yes, yes, yes, as well it should be. That’s why it is crucial to have as many sprinkler heads as possible so that we can control exactly where and how water is dispersed.
You don’t think that half or less as many heads would reduce water consumption?
That’s all well and good to say but what if the fairways started to firm up? Where would we be? What if a ball landed in the fairway but then scampered away to a bad lie? Do you think the American golfer is going to stand for that?! Absolutely not, the ball should stick exactly where you hit it. In that manner, you get exactly what you deserve. Golf courses should be fair.
Well, I hesitate to ask …. but what do you think about blind shots?
I have never met either a club or ball that had eyes.
What I mean is suppose that you can’t see where you want your next shot to finish?
I don’t understand. How could that happen? My D8 is a beast and I am not building all those elevated tees for my health. The golfer needs to see where he is going. Otherwise, he might not feel comfortable over the ball. Discomfort = grumpy customer and who wants that? It’s a recipe for disaster.
What’s next for you?
I am helping to finish a club history book on one of my designs.
Really? How long has the course been in play?
It opens next month. This is a preemptive strike at defining and chronicling its history …
… Before it has any?! Never mind. Lastly, what will be your design legacy?
That’s hard to say, the script has not been completed: Almost half of my housing development courses have yet to enter bankruptcy. Only time well tell.