Shane Witcombe is a design associate with Greg Norman Golf Course Design. First established in 1987, Greg Norman Golf Course Design is headquartered in Jupiter, Florida, with sister facilities and personnel in Sydney, and has opened sixty-one courses worldwide with an additional sixty projects in various stages of development. Witcombe has designed Surprise, Arizona courses Desert Springs Golf Club and the north and south courses at Granite Falls. He’s also created the White Wing Golf Club in Georgetown, Texas, and the Lincoln Hills Club in Lincoln, California.

I was able to let golf foster a new friendship a few years ago in Phoenix while working for fellow ASGCA Member, Greg Nash. Greg had an opportunity to co-design a golf course in the Philippines with Japanese Golf Designer Shiro Tashiro. Mr. Tashiro was excited to learn about our target-style golf courses of the desert Southwest, so he booked a trip to Phoenix with his translator.

The first day of his trip was spent in our office going over the new project. Shiro was excited to look through our plans.  Although he spoke almost no English he would inquisitively ask, “Green?” or “Trap?” followed by, “Oooooh!” and the snap of his camera.

He soon proudly displayed a set of his grading plans, which gave us a chance to learn more of his ornamental style of design. Most of the meeting, however, was spent with the interpreter relating how badly Shiro wanted to play golf!

The day after our meeting, Shiro and I took off for Los Caballeros Golf Club in Wickenburg. I anticipated a rather quiet trip to the golf course considering our language barrier; I was wrong.  Shiro laughed and giggled and snapped photos the entire way, even after we started our round.

At the sixteenth hole we had to pause briefly to let a dozen horseback riders play through, because the golf course is part of a resort and ranch where the guests, wearing cowboy hats, bandanas, and chaps, ride the desert trails adjacent to and through the golf course. Shiro couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Cowboys?! Cowboys?!” he yelled, raising his hands with mock six-shooters firing air bullets into the sky. He grabbed his camera and took off down the hill to take photos.

That was by far one of my most enlightening days on the golf course. The game of golf certainly shatters the language barrier. We were able to communicate through our passion for the game and our thirst for discovery. I truly treasure the friendship that was formed that day on the course.