TONY RISTOLA, MASTER GOLF COURSE ARCHITECT


On-site all-day, every day. 100% focus & commitment during your most costly & permanent design phase... Construction.
If there were a better way to protect the client... I would use it!!!

PHILOSOPHY

Will you be a client or customer?

CUSTOMERS
Customers are those involved in a buyer-seller transaction.

The typical "customer-golf architect" arrangement is designed to deliver a product, hopefully a decent product, but certainly not the best product. The reasons are simple.

Most architects have multiple customers concurrently, which means their most valuable asset... time... is spread thin. They cannot spend enough time with your project to guarantee success. Sometimes the project goes well, sometimes poorly and occasionally badly. This is the pitfall of the "customer-architect transaction". Yet, it is how the majority of golf projects are developed.

In the "customer-architect" relationship, the architect draws plans, visits a few
times during construction and leaves. It is a hit-run-and-hope mentality. The
architect cannot and is not expected to invest the massive amount of time
necessary to guarantee the finest golf course is constructed, and the buyer
should realize this is the case. If not, he can be sorely disappointed.

When nobody is watching the store, bad things can and do happen. How else
can the thousands of mediocre golf courses built on wonderful land and with
sufficient budgets... to build exceptional golf courses be explained?
They were customers.

CLIENTS
Clients are different from customers. A client is someone receiving maximum
guidance and protection from a professional. It is a relationship, not a
transaction. This relationship delivers a comprehensive service where your
investment is cared for to the utmost of the architect's ample ability.

At best, clients are treated like family. In golf architecture, it means absolute
respect for the land and money invested and treating it as if it were their own.
In short, the architect commits all his skill, knowledge and time to that project
in an effort to protect the short and long term prospects of his client. Just as he
would for his family. 

Only five architects in the world work in this 100% focused and committed
manner during construction, treating clients like family. It is a rare service,
but worth the cost because it saves you money over the short and long term...
while greatly increasing the quality of your golf course.

Ask any client or anyone I have worked with, and all will tell you, I have treated
their land and investment as if it were my family's and exceeded their expectations.
Here is how and why I do it:

DESIGN
Pete Dye stated, “My directions merely serve as a starting point…”. His
“directions” weren’t plans, but personal explanations in the field! Donald
Ross advised “Design on land, not on paper” and Dr. Alister Mackenzie wrote
to Augusta National Chairman, Clifford Roberts, “many of the most important
decisions… could not be made until the picks and shovels were in hand.”

Long story short: Plans are necessary, but incomplete and flawed. They're
made by humans after all, and "to err is human".

The real challenge when building a golf course is detecting the elements that
undermine its perfection, improving them and applying the layers of daily
enhancements that increase golf course quality dramatically. This continuous
opportunity seeking and refinement, not money, is responsible for elevating
courses to their maximum potential.

There has never been a great golf course produced by an architect visiting a
handful of times during construction. Delivering excellence economically
every time demands a massive commitment of... TIME... by the architect... and
Continual Improvement. There is no other way. Otherwise your project is a high
stakes game of Russian roulette. Do you feel lucky?

Because no architect has or ever will produce perfect plans, these project
defining challenges can only be answered during construction. Furthermore,
left alone for days, weeks or months at a time, no builder will ever construct
the course as the architect envisioned.

There is no short cut, technique, program or miracle for achieving perfection
that can replace an architect in touch with the situation on an all-day, everyday
basis... working hard from morning to evening, day after day to achieve excellence
and a line of continuity through:

  • Site Inspection
  • Planning
  • Construction
  • Post Construction

SITE INSPECTION
Ideally the architect spends days or weeks thoroughly exploring, making notes,
and photographing the property.  This thorough analysis reveals conditions
and intricacies (details), which are lost on even the best topographic maps or
aerial photos. Though ideal, it is rarely done this way. Just ask around.

PLANNING
Routing is the least sexy, but most critical plan your architect will make. If a
great routing is established, the construction schedule is shorter, more efficient,
reduces costs, and sets the stage for variety and a wonderful sequence of holes
to unfold upon the landscape.

From the time invested exploring the property, collecting information, and the
mass of hours thinking about what has been seen and experienced, I personally
draw the plans and evaluate them on-site to ensure they are optimal. This is
vital continuity from Site Inspection to Planning.

By comparison, some architects have a team of designers producing plans in an
office a world away, who have never seen the property.

CONSTRUCTION
THE MOST CRITICAL, COSTLY AND PERMANENT DESIGN PHASE

Site Inspection, Planning and Construction are separate parts of the same job;
they are not separate jobs. Construction is your most expensive, permanent and
critical design phase.

You only have one chance at achieving excellence... economically.

Even though Site Inspection and Planning allow the property to be observed for
weeks, construction provides months of further exploration, deep understanding,
and constant refinement in real-time.


The size of golf properties prevents perfect plans from ever being drawn. 
Opportunities are always overlooked during planning, and are discovered
during construction, or not. It depends if your architect is there to exploit them.

Opportunities to improve the project never reveal themselves according to a
rare and infrequent “site-visit” schedule, so the architect must be on-site daily to
continually improve the project.  If the architect is not present the minute
these cost-free opportunities are revealed, they are likely lost forever. The land
will be bulldozed "according-to-plan". Improvements will be lost. Too bad for you.

Because golf courses aren’t built using fixed angles, but leave much to the
personal interpretation of the builder and his men, ten different companies or
individuals left alone to interpret the architect’s plans will produce ten variations
of the architect’s intent. Once again, do you feel lucky?

All-day, everyday leadership, communicating the design details face-to-face with
the team, and monitoring their work in real-time, the architect is able to integrate
every opportunity to improve the project. No method of golf course construction is
more efficient or better.  It results in projects which are not just “good enough,”
but the purest definition of an architect's vision. It’s why I use it... to protect my clients.

This is continuity from Site Inspection to Planning, and Planning to Construction.
100% commitment and continuity, but it does not stop there.
There is a lifetime of post construction service.

The typical method for more than 50-years is one “site-visit” per week, month or
less for an investment of millions!!! This 0 to 6% involvement during construction
is like driving a car by only looking into the rear view mirror. Excellence built
economically requires daily monitoring and improvement, and this is impossible
when the architect works in a part-time, hobby-like manner.

How can someone expect great golf courses to emerge from such “part-time” efforts?
If they are honest, the will admit… they cannot.

AFTER CONSTRUCTION
Construction is not the end of the Design Phase. Maintenance is architecture too!

I work with the superintendent to ensure the vegetative details are clearly
understood for the short and long term. If he is present during construction
this allows him to gain months of valuable insight about the design-intent.

In time, several days may be necessary to update a new golf course
superintendent regarding the design-intent.  This “Lifetime of Service” brings
continuity from Site Inspection to Planning, Planning to Construction and
Construction to Maintenance… for the life of the project.

I am able to offer this type of service because I design and construct only
one-golf-course-at-a-time, treating each golf course as if it were my family's
investment. It is an effort unmatched in the history of golf course architecture.

The "customer-architect" bargain is designed to deliver a product, hopefully a decent product, but certainly not the best product.


A client is someone receiving the maximum of guidance and protection from a professional. 


Design on land, not on paper.

Donald Ross 


...no architect has or ever will produce perfect plans.


80% of success in life
is just showing up.

Woody Allen



Routing is the least sexy,
but most critical plan.




You only have one chance
at achieving excellence... economically.




If the architect is not present the minute these cost-free opportunities are revealed, they are likely lost forever... Too bad for you.





Maintenance is architecture too!