Today we’d like to introduce you to Andy Staples.
Andy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was brought to the game of golf around the age of seven by my dad. As a kid, my family vacationed at a lake cottage in northern Wisconsin, and it was there I began practicing my bunker shots in and around the sandy beach, initially playing to a stick in the ground. This target evolved into a flat “green” on a sand ledge, then the green expanded to include 9 teeing grounds that could be played twice. It even includes an “island” tee from the boat dock. Seeing my creative dedication, my dad asked if he knew that people designed golf courses for a living. I immediately know what I wanted to do when I grew up!
I studied Landscape Architecture at the University of Arkansas (I also tried to walk on the golf team, of which I knew right away I had a better chance of drawing pictures of golf holes for a living), then went to work for a large golf construction company named Wadsworth Golf Construction. After a time working in the field, I was able to break into a design office, apprenticing for some sizable firms around the country.
It was in 2000 that I met two guys from Nebraska, one a golf course superintendent, the other a clubhouse manager. The three of us formed a company focused on golf course management with an eye towards efficiency. The Golf Resource Group, as it was called at the time, performed maintenance of golf courses, as well as some design. In 2004, we secured our first major development project called Sand Hollow Resort, in southern Utah. Since then, my company has been an industry leader in sustainable golf course design and management, focusing on making golf more water and energy efficient while doing our best to show the value of a golf course within a community.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My biggest struggle has been being able to build a golf design business by carving out a niche in the world of water and energy efficiency but maintaining a creative differentiator that developer wants to hire. As designers, our responsibility is to bring value to our clients and build projects that will stay relevant for years to come. Integrating our own core values into the design is also valuable, and finding this type of client has been challenging.
As most have probably heard or read, the game of golf has been on a bit of a downswing since the early 2000’s. For me, the Great Recession had a major impact on my business going from about 100 mph to zero in a matter of months. Interestingly, this downturn has been a positive for me in the end, as I am now one of the last men standing so to speak, and have been able to keep growing my business to positive levels.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am known in the golf industry as one of the thought leaders in sustainable golf course architecture. My elevator pitch is that I blend the art and science of golf course development. I was the first to build an energy efficiency program designed specifically for golf courses. I have trademarked a management process called Community Links where we promote the value of the game of golf by increasing the levels of inclusivity to 100% of a community, not just the 10% that play golf. And, I have brought a high level of understanding within the design community of the importance of sustainable maintenance including water-efficient irrigation programs.
I am most proud to know that after years of going where not many other golf architects have gone, it has brought a certain level of respect from my peers. I believe my work has left the golf industry in a better condition then when I found it, and that’s pretty cool. But, I have a tremendous amount of work left to do.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I remember being a bit of an introvert. I was very active in all kinds of sports including golf, baseball, and football. I do remember that I liked to draw, and I was always outside building something. Also, I’m from Wisconsin, so I love the Packers, and liked to hunt.
- Address: Staples Golf
4300 N Miller Rd #124
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
- Website: www.staplesgolfdesign.com
- Phone: 602-845-9074
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Twitter: @buildsmartrgolf
Brian Walters, Tony Roberts