Working in a Foreign Environment

Surely if you love what you do where you work does not matter?

Golf as we know it has become a universal game. Heck, there are over 55 golf courses in Iceland!! Most African countries have a golf course or two…even places like Papua New Guinea has golf courses. I cant think of another sport, maybe soccer and fishing, that has as much reach as Golf.

I am one of the lucky guys (and I mean that sincerely) to have worked on golf course projects in places not really known for golf … these places being some distance from recognised golfing zones like North America and Europe. Dont get me wrong, I certainly enjoy working close to home, in a more golf friendly environment, but the challenge of working abroad in a foreign place is exciting and daunting at the same time.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Crossing a stream on site in Vietnam

The big plus I find ‘working in a foreign environment’ is that most of the sites I visit are interesting and memorable and well suited for golf. I think back to what Golden Age Golf Architect William Flynn said : to have a satisfactory golf course you must first secure a suitable piece of land over which to lay it out.

In most parts of North America and Europe there is an excess of golf courses (so supply exceeds demand in a lot of cases) and what land is available for golf has severe restrictions. In many cases now you have to create a golf course versus find one.

Whilst environment restrictions in Asia, Africa, South America are perhaps not as severe as other parts of the world, they are still prevalent and becoming more strict with the years. Regardless of this it should always be the golf architects responsibility to do as little as possible to create the best that is possible so this should not matter.

It is an adventure visiting new places. Travel can be daunting. Try catch a Tuk Tuk or crossing the road in India or riding a motorbike in Vietnam. Accommodation can be basic at times and communication is always hard. On more than one occasion the Lonely Planet has come in handy.


Snake Charming in India


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Locals cooking us supper in Africa

Then there is the challenge of working with people who have not heard or even seen golf before. That can be interesting. Equipment is often scarce or unreliable and the work culture can be very different from what we are use to.

But it is a about having the right frame of mind, understanding that is is going to be different and making the best of the situation. It is also about enjoying the experience almost embracing it. You got to infuse yourself in that way of life…the culture, the people and the country where possible.

At the end of the day there is so much more satisfaction creating something out of nothing in a foreign place after having really endured and learnt so much at the same time.

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