Since joining the Laguna Beach, California-based family firm in 1991, Ted Robinson Jr. has been principally involved with the design of such golf courses as Rancamaya Golf Club in Bogor, Indonesia; Pinx Golf Club on Cheju Island, Korea; The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona; Pelican Lakes in Windsor, Colorado; Tahquitz Creek Golf Course in Palm Springs, California; and, in collaboration with his father, Robinson Ranch, a thirty-six-hole facility in Santa Clara named in honor of Ted Sr. In addition, Robinson designed the Marriott Los Suenos Resort in Bahia Herradura, Costa Rica; Arrowood Golf Club in Oceanside, California; and Tuscany Hills Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prior to joining his father, Ted spent fourteen years in real estate construction financing, the last six as senior vice president and regional manager for Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles.
On my first visit to Costa Rica, in the 1990s, my guide stopped briefly at a bridge leading to the project so that I might view the crocodiles sunning on the banks of the river below. There were no guardrails. With a very real risk of vertigo, maintaining one’s balance was the only sure way to avoid becoming lunch. Modern golf was new to the country and the untamed natural beauty of the rainforest area was equally new to me. And so were local business practices.
My contacts were good-natured and well educated individuals whose company I thoroughly enjoyed. The design and initial clearing of the site proceeded normally until Hurricane Mitch dropped five feet of water on the site in less than forty-eight hours. After re-examining and upsizing the drainage system, I arrived one afternoon to see huge trenches dug to accommodate even larger concrete pipe instead of the PVC specified. When I noted the change, the project manager good-naturedly shook his finger and said, “You American’s, always choosing the most expensive way. I was able to buy bigger pipe from my cousin that was ten cents a foot cheaper.” Alas, the problem with using thirty-inch concrete pipe are the junction boxes and the man holes required to service them; not a significant concern in areas out of play, but tough to hide in the middle of landing areas!
Importing a high quality bunker sand from Nicaragua was included as part of the original budget, but when a cousin’s crushed white marble proved cheaper, we ended up with brilliantly white sand traps…as hard as concrete!
The most interesting experience, however, involved the grass chosen for the greens. At the time, the only in-country choice was 328 Bermuda grass. We had gained approval to import higher quality TifEagle, but when fifty crates of it arrived at the airport, paperwork held its release until it had rotted. And, yes, you guessed it: another cousin came to the rescue with 328!
Ah, you Americans.