With twenty years of experience in golf course design, Florida-based John Sanford has completed more than sixty new design and renovation projects. John has traveled the globe working in Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and throughout the United States. Designing courses on sites with diverse opportunities and constraints has given him unique experience and perspective. He designed The Links at Pointe West in Vero Beach, Juliette Falls Golf Club in Ocala, and The Links at Madison Green in Royal Palm Beach, Florida; Quarry Hills Golf Club in Quincy, Massachusetts; Jolie Ville Golf Resort in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt; and Cagual Real Golf Resort in Caguas, Puerto Rico.
We were walking the beachside site of Sahl Hasheesh, which is Arabic for “easy grass,” with the planner and engineers. It was a beautiful location on the Red Sea just south of Hurghada, Egypt, but it was 125 degrees and very dusty. One of the Egyptian engineers was telling us about the history of the property. Since there was a lagoon area with a fairly flat beach, the Israelis had often used amphibious vehicles to come ashore. In response, the Egyptians had scattered mines along the beach.
As we were walking along and learning this, I made the mistake of asking the planner an obvious question.
“Surely you’ve swept the mines from the beach, right?”
There was an uncomfortable pause followed by an even more uncomfortable answer: “No.’ The planner then explained that removing the mines would be the first phase of site work!
My instincts kicked in and I starting running toward the site vehicle about a half-mile down the beach! I don’t know what made me think running would help me, but it was just an expression of my naturally fearful reaction.
The rest of the team was laughing at me when they got back to the truck. They calmed me down by taking me for some tea.
“There is no reason for you to be frightened,” the engineer told me. “Your destiny is in the hands of Allah.”
That, as you can imagine, was of little comfort to me.