Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Getting to Know: John Fought, Golf Course Architect

American Golfer: When did you start playing golf?
John Fought: I starting playing golf when I was seven years old. My grandmother starting me playing and of course I got hooked on the game at an early age, though I loved baseball as well.

AG: How did you become a golf course designer?
JF: When I was on the PGA Tour I became interested in building a great championship golf course in my old home town of Portland, Oregon. At a tournament in Florida I was paired with Jack Nicklaus and expressed my desire to find out more about the design process. He introduced me to his senior  designer, Bob Cupp. When I was injured in 1985 I had the time to begin apprenticing with Bob and he mentored me until 1995 when I form my own firm. Golf course design is not taught in any degree in college; there are very few golf course architects, so I learned from the ground up from Bob. Incidentally the first course we did together was Pumpkin Ridge!

AG: Why did you choose a career in golf course design?
JF: I love golf and when I could not play (injuries – back) I became interested in design. I have a degree in Accounting from BYU but was not prone to that field. Design is my true love!

AG: In your opinion, have any design trends hurt the game?
JF: After the golden age designers were dead there came an age of university-trained landscape architects that really did not have an understanding of golf or its history. The era was the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when a lot of poor golf courses were developed. I also think when housing developers discovered they could sell lots around golf courses it led to a lot of really bad designs. However, there has been a resurgence of history-minded and passionate designers that are leading the way today.

AG: How can we grow the game of golf?
JF: Get people to play outside rather than spend all of their time on iPhones and iPads! All sports are suffering from the decline in activity. Golf is a wonderful game for families, business people and just anyone who loves to be outdoors.

AG: Do you have a specific design philosophy?
JF: I do not have an identifiable motif that I follow. I work to make my design fit the land so heavy earthmoving and unnatural features are eliminated. I like classic style design and have spent my life studying these types of golf courses. I have a trip planned to England and Wales in early September to tour many of the great designs located there.

AG: Of all the holes you’ve designed, do you have a favorite (why)?
JF: That is a difficult question because its like asking if I have a favorite child! I am currently renovating Windsong and I love the holes on that course, especially 15. It plays around a hollow in the middle of the hole and forces players to bite-off as much as they dare when playing at the green. The green is relatively large and rewarding when you muster the courage to play a long approach in the perfect location. This hole requires two well struck shots while allowing timid players to play safely to a large safe location. This hole is beautiful and interesting.

AG: What’s your “dream foursome” (living or dead, golfer or non-golfer)?
JF: Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead. Wonderful great players!

AG: Is there a “bucket list” location in/on which to design?
JF: That is easy – a great piece of links land located along the sea. Does not matter where (Scotland, Ireland or Oregon).

AG: What is the future of golf course design?
JF: I hope bright with many great sites yet to happen! But not too many courses!

Learn more about John Fought HERE.

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