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How golf’s new head of course designers plans to shake things up

December 18, 2020
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Forrest Richardson, the newly elected president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, discusses his plans for the future of his organization. Pictured: The Links at Las Palomas, one of his designs, in Mexico.

Keith Alstrin

Every two years the American Society of Golf Course Architects elects a new president to lead the organization. Seventy-four men and women have previously held the position since its inception in 1947, including luminaries such as Donald Ross, Stanley Thompson, Robert Trent Jones and William Langford. Forrest Richardson, elected in Fall 2020, is now the 75th.

As a teenager in the 1970s, Richardson began writing a newsletter about golf course architecture that garnered the attention of numerous designers of the era. He later began collaborating on course construction with Arthur Jack Snyder in the American southwest before opening his own firm in the late 1980s. Some of his notable designs include popular municipal courses like Baylands Golf Links in Palo Alto and Olivas Links in Ventura County (California); The Hideout, a gorgeous course routed through the uplands of southeast Utah; and The Short Course at Mountain Shadows in Arizona, an assembly of short, sporty and fun par-3 holes near Scottsdale.

In becoming ASGCA president, Richardson realizes his greatest task is to push the somewhat staid organization into the future and to find ways to help golf become a more integrated part of the lifestyles of a younger, more time-strapped generation.

He recently joined the Feed the Ball Salon podcast to talk with Golf Digest associate editor of architecture Derek Duncan and golf course builder Jim Urbina about his plans for the society, which includes a drive to make it younger and more representative of golf as a whole, whether golf needs to adapt to changing demographics, his relationship with the late eccentric architect Desmond Muirhead and the potential of developing short courses in urban areas.