Architect & Project Spotlight: Beau Welling

Ted Fist recently had the pleasure of speaking with Beau Welling, Founder and Visionary of Beau Welling Design™. 

Interview with Architect Beau Welling of Beau Welling Design

Beau, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me.  You and your team have been very busy lately. Champions Golf Club in Houston is hosting the Ladies U.S. Open in December, Payne’s Valley (A Tiger Woods Design) opened last month, and PGA Frisco is just now wrapping up and will open after grow-in.

When you got into the design business, did you ever expect to be involved in so many nice projects? How are you able to stay on top of all the work?

I had no idea where my career would go when Tom Fazio hired me, but I have been very fortunate to work with so many outstanding clients over the years. When we started Beau Welling Design in 2007, Shane Robichaud joined me, and we began to build a great team. There are nine of us now, and I am super proud of all of them. We are collaborative by nature, and it is not uncommon to have three to four of us working together on a project, collaborating with each other and with our clients. Having a strong team allows us to be super responsive to our clients as well as provide the attention to detail that our clients expect both with plan work as well as when on-site during the design and construction process. 

beau welling golf course designs

You have worked with Tiger Woods on several projects. How did your collaboration with him begin?

I went to my first Masters with Tom Fazio in 1997, the first year that Tiger played as a professional. Tom knew everyone at the receptions we attended, but I didn’t know many people there. At the Golf Digest reception, I met Greg McLaughlin, who had just become the head of the newly formed Tiger Woods Foundation. We were both sort of in the same boat being new on the scene. We struck up a friendship that night, which ultimately led to assisting with the golf elements at the Tiger Woods Learning Center years later. I got to know Earl Woods during that process, and he would often talk about Tiger getting involved in design one day. And one day, that happened, and I was asked to consult.

A few years ago, I went with you to the Palmetto Curling Club meeting in Greenville, SC and had my first experience throwing some stones! (I think I did better at eating wings and drinking beer afterwards). I’m sure most of our readers don’t know much about curling and don’t know that you were on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Curling Association! Curling is not a well-known sport in South Carolina. How did you get so involved in it?

Curling was a demonstration sport at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics; I was 18 at the time. I had never seen anything like it. Soon after, I became a fanatic and wanted to learn all I could about it. Curling became a full medal Olympic sport at the Salt Lake Olympics and was on late night television coverage. Andy Banfield, who is with Fazio Design and is from northern Ontario, had grown up curling and he was able to explain the strategy and nuances of the game to me. The more I learned, the deeper the hook set.  I have a degree in physics, and the angles and strategy of the sport appealed to me greatly. Like golf, curling originated in Scotland. I enjoy the jargon and camaraderie. Maybe it is just a good excuse to drink a little scotch too, but I love it. When the Olympics went to Torino in 2006, I was glued to the TV watching every game I could. I learned that most of the U.S. team members were from this little town of Bemidji, Minnesota, and 2 weeks after the Olympics, they were hosting the National Championships.  I decided I wanted to go. So, I traveled up to Bemidji and ended up meeting many members of the team. Everyone that week really embraced me and wondered how some guy from South Carolina had become so interested in curling. I was asked to join the Board of Directors of the U.S. Curling Association in 2010. Later in 2018, I became one of eight members on the board of directors of the World Curling Federation.

john shuster and beau welling
2018 Curling Olympic Gold Medal Winner John Shuster and Beau Welling

There is a rumor that you received a gold medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics. Is that true?

I don’t have a gold medal, but I was there when the U.S. Men’s Curling Team defeated Sweden to win the gold medal game. It really was a miracle. We were almost eliminated early in the tournament and, all of the sudden, Team USA got hot. The rest is history. I spent a great deal of time in PyeongChang over the 2018 Olympics, but I will never forget that night watching Team USA clinch the gold medal. One of the most amazing things to happen since the gold medal victory has been the increasing interest and growth of curling in America.

What is your favorite aspect of the golf course design business?

I was a player first, so initially, I enjoyed creating a test of golf through the design of greens, tees, and bunkers. Now, I think the game is more about bringing people together. Golf humanizes our life. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need places and communities that promote a sense of connection to one another in our lives. Golf courses and the game of golf are very unique in that they give us that. Beyond being able to connect people through the game, I feel very fortunate that we have been able to work alongside so many people within this great industry on meaningful and fulfilling projects.

Do you find redesign and renovation more challenging than new construction, and if so, how?

They are so different. Redesign and renovation projects can have more constraints due to land limitations and multiple stakeholders that may have input on the project. New courses are different by nature in that we are dealing with a developer and or a smaller group of decision-makers. Regardless, we strive to communicate constantly, listen, and be transparent to make sure that we achieve our client’s goals.

Find out more about Beau, his team and their amazing designs at https://beauwellingdesign.com/.

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