Victoria Martz is vice president and senior golf course architect for the Arnold Palmer Design Company and serves as director of environmental design, responsible for assisting in preparing environmental site assessments including wetland management, permitting, native grass, plant selection, and evaluation of wildlife habitat. Martz is also a member of the Urban Land Institute and serves the American Society of Golf Course Architects Board of Governors. Her projects include the Victoria Clube de Golfe in Portugal, which hosted the World Cup in 2005, and the Classic Club in Palm Desert, host of the PGA Tour’s annual Bob Hope Chrysler Invitational.
In the late 1990’s I became the project architect for a Tournament Players Club course in Blaine, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities. At that point in my career I had been lead architect for about a half-dozen courses for the Palmer Course Design Company. I had worked for the company for about fifteen years and my bosses, Ed Seay and Arnold Palmer, had been my mentors and advocates in bringing me from the design boards into the field. Mr. Seay cautioned me, though.
“It might be difficult for you, as a woman, to give direction to construction crews,” he warned. “Construction crews are tough and not necessarily ‘gender blind.'”
The construction for the TPC course was very complicated due to the fact that the site sat on a deep layer of peat. This layer had to be removed and thus the grades had to be reviewed and approved two feet below final grade. Once approved, irrigation would go in and two-feet of sand would plate the grade work. All of the crew understood the difficulty of this method and together we shared ideas for this complicated process.
I was reviewing the project with the construction superintendent, the shaper, and representatives from the PGA Tour. As we walked one of the more complicated holes, a grizzled, older bulldozer operator, who I was told was a Vietnam veteran, watched me from his bulldozer. I then saw him climb down from his bulldozer and approached me.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be a member of a team that cares about my opinions. Thank you very much for including me,” he said.
This macho construction worker then presented me with a gift he’d selected for me: a beautiful golf pin. I knew then that it was okay to bring a “softer” side to this business and that being a woman in the midst of construction crews would not be a problem.
Everyone wants to be treated with respect and have his or her opinions count. That pin is one of my favorite possessions and is a great reminder that we can do anything if we remember to do it with consideration of others.