Traditional architecture of any type, including golf course architecture, usually involves a separate designer and builder. The marriage of these two entities can result in tremendous partnerships and very high quality products, as well as terrible relationships and very poor outcomes, and everywhere in between.
First and foremost, the designer must communicate perfectly his vision for the project, usually through drawings. In building architecture, the exact materials and elevations can be specified almost exactly. With golf course architecture, there is much more gray area. Establishing finish grades on a grading plan in an office is very difficult. The final product, even with the best communication between designer and builder, will have its nuances and strays from the original design.
Traditional architecture/builder relationships also require thousands of grade stakes throughout a golf course to help the builder more accurately establish the desired grades.
The design build method that I use allows for tremendous freedom for the designer in that he is also the builder. A skilled bulldozer operator that is also trained as a golf course architect can quickly and efficiently construct design features on site while constantly adapting to the site and upgrading the finished product. One of the primary advantages is the freedom FROM grade stakes, allowing the designer’s creativity to flow freely on a daily basis without the risk of being stuck with design features that turn out less than stellar. I often use the term “you can’t hurt dirt.” With a large bulldozer, an architect can experiment with design features and quickly erased and rebuilt sub par designs with very little waste of time and resources.
Every finished product looks at least a little different than the designer originally anticipated. This method allows the designer to more precisely pursue his image for the project, as well as continually explore other more effective design solutions.