Golf Course Construction Spotlight:
Each quarter, Ted Fist of Premier Sands, interviews top golf course experts from around the country to learn more about how their careers have evolved, get the scoop on their latest projects, and get industry insights. This quarter, he had the pleasure of talking with Doug Myslinski of Wadsworth Golf Construction Company and the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation in Plainfield, IL.
Interview with Doug Myslinski, ASGCA
Get to know Doug Myslinski, a well-established golf course industry contributor as a career in design, construction and philanthropy.
Doug, how did you get started in the golf construction business, and what has been your evolving career path?
As a youngster, I followed my father on the golf course and absolutely fell in love with the game. My dad lost his left arm in WWII and played the game of golf as well as most (carried a -10 handicap most of his life). He was an inspiration not only to play the game but to get involved in it as potentially a career. We played a 9-hole course in Steubenville, Ohio nearly daily, and we always talked about how it could be improved.
With aspirations of working in the golf industry in some fashion, I graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in Landscape Architecture, knowing that most golf course architects took that type of route. My intent after graduation was to learn as much as I could about building a golf course as I thought that would give good foundation for good design. I was fortunate enough to be hired by the Wadsworth Company that was building two courses not far from my hometown near Pittsburgh, PA. I spent three years building those two courses and followed that with nearly two years in El Paso, Texas building a course for the Army at Fort Bliss. I then was offered a position in Wadsworth’s home office to learn more about the other aspects of construction such as bidding, purchasing, and managing projects.
The home office for Wadsworth Golf is in Plainfield, IL, and in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the explosion of new golf courses being built had our office extremely busy. Learning from leaders in golf course construction such as Brent Wadsworth, John Cotter, and Paul Eldredge was a surreal experience all while familiarizing myself with plans and specifications from just about every golf course architect in the United States. I remained with the Wadsworth Company for about three more years in the office before venturing into design.
Rick Jacobson, ASGCA, was one of those busy designers and had recently left the Nicklaus Organization. He was looking for a design associate to help grow his new firm. I accepted the position with Rick and I was fortunate enough to learn from him for nineteen years designing both new and renovated golf projects in the US, China, and Japan while becoming a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects.
As the design world went through some challenging times after the economic turndown, an opportunity to return the Wadsworth Company presented itself. I actually had the opportunity to work on a project that I was very familiar with as Rick and I had been consulting with this club for 20 years. So now I have come full circle with the Wadsworth Company and share time doing business development and serving as director of the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation.
Wadsworth is one of the largest and most recognized golf construction companies in the country. Tell us a little bit about the company history:
Brent Wadsworth was the visionary for the company. After serving in the Air Force, Brent started in golf as a golf course architect working with Robert Bruce Harris and then partnering with Edward Packard. He eventually saw the need in the industry for a construction company that was dependable and operated with integrity and honor. He started the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company in 1958 with the motto of “Devotion to duty, proudness, and extraordinary satisfaction.”
Brent’s first employee was John Cotter, and John managed the day-to-day operations of the company. Having much success and developing great relationships with architects such as Dick Nugent, Arthur Hills, and Jack Nicklaus, the need for expansion came early and eventually led to additional offices in Arizona (Southwest Division), Florida (Southeast Division), Hawaii (Pacific Division) and Pennsylvania (Mid-Atlantic Division). One of the first projects in the state of Florida was in 1970, where Brent had an opportunity to be an initial investor. Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead continues to be a stop on the PGA Tour hosting the Valspar Championship.
How many courses has Wadsworth built, and how many countries have you worked in?
The company has now completed over 1,000 projects across the United States, working in 47 of the 50 states. International work was never the company’s focus but did complete work in the Virgin Islands, Sonora, Panama, Guam, and Mexico.
Wadsworth is a large company and is committed to giving back to the industry that has been so integral in its own growth. Tell us about Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation.
Brent was always a philanthropist and cared deeply about utilizing golf as a method to help people. In 1980, Brent and Jean Wadsworth established the Wadsworth Social Responsibility program, which led to their creation of the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation in 1997, in honor of the Company’s 40th year anniversary. The Foundation would provide grants to projects or programs that indeed utilize golf to help children, the underprivileged, veterans or rehabilitation.
Some examples of projects that have been supported by grants include the Learning Links (MN), Bobby Jones Golf Course (GA), Marion Military Institute (AL), Chicago District Golf Association’s Sunshine Course (IL), and The First Tee of Central Washington (WA), to name a few. Programs include Golf My Future My Game (DC), Maryville Academy (IL), National Alliance for Accessible Golf (USA), Golf Course Builders Association’s Sticks for Kids (USA), Caddie and Leadership Academy (WI and AZ), while rehabilitation programs such as the Turn (OH) and the Cleveland Clinic (OH), are a few of the many programs that are supported.
On the education side, the GCSAA has a new program called First Green where golf courses/superintendents are teaming up with local schools STEM programs to bring students out to their golf course and teach them about the ecological benefits of a golf course. The Foundation also supports Audubon International that recently had a Monarchs in the Rough butterfly program that provided golf courses the essential plant life to create native areas that promote the Monarch habitat. More than $10 million in contributions have been granted to a variety of projects and programs since the inception.
The Foundation is ultimately managed by a board that includes myself and Eric and Leslie Wadsworth, Brent’s children that serve as President and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively. Pat Karnick, president of the Wadsworth Golf Construction Company and John McNair also serve on the board. Brent and Jean’s vision will be carried on and continue to positively impact the lives of many children and people.
Where can our readers find more information about Wadsworth Golf Construction?
We have YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We are fairly active on social media in an effort to show our followers what fun and interesting projects we are working on. Recently, we completed one of the largest and most highly touted projects as the PGA moved its headquarters from Florida to Frisco, Texas. We constructed with West Course that was designed by Beau Welling. Fantastic bunker sand was used on that project by the way, and plenty of pictures can be seen on our social media outlets. Our website is www.wadsworthgolf.com and contains a complete list of all of our projects and all of the great architects we have worked with.
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