My first day on the “rock pile,” the term I use for a golf course construction site, was an eye opener. I had just completed my first year of graduate architecture school at the University of Florida, driven from Gainesville to Indianapolis, and had settled in to my new apartment for the summer internship of my dreams working for Pete Dye. As I arrived at the site, I quickly located the office and the construction manager Pete had sent me to find when he gave me the job over the phone three months prior. Unfortunately, my employment/summer internship was news to the construction manager! As I tried to overcome the sinking feeling in my stomach, the construction manager called Pete, who, of course, didn’t remember giving me a job or even talking to me!
I guess the two of them felt sorry for me, because they let me start working, probably thinking I would never make it a week anyway. My first task was to start the tractor outside the trailer and drive it out to the 12th green. I was quite relieved to have a job, but I had never driven a tractor before, nor did I know how to start one. Additionally, I had no idea where the 12th green was located, why I would be drawing plans out on the construction site, or why a golf course architect (in training) would be asked to drive a tractor.
As it turned out, this was my first lesson in design/build golf development, Pete Dye style. Little did I know at the time, Pete flies by the seat of his pants, builds courses with his hands and not by drawings, and rarely clutters up his brilliant design mind with trivial memories of phone calls from young grad students. I spent my summer learning to build course features in he field, strategically moving dirt, and turning my design ideas into reality. Also, plenty of my time was spent helping Pete locate his rental car on the construction site when he was ready to go home. Hilarious.