A native of Carmel, Indiana, Lee Schmidt worked for Pete Dye for seven years as design associate on projects such as Kingsmill Country Club in Virginia and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic. Schmidt served as vice president of Landmark Land Company for twelve years heading the design and construction division while prominent California courses such as PGA West, La Quinta Hotel and Resort and Mission Hills were built. Schmidt also spent seven years as senior design associate for Nicklaus Design. He is now a principal with Schmidt Curley Design and has thirty-five years of experience as superintendent, architect, and builder. His other works include Agile Country Club in Zhongshan City, China; Bali Hai and Siena Golf Club in Las Vegas; and, in Beaumont, California, PGA of Southern California Golf Club and Landmark Golf Club.
Early in my career I was working in the Dominican Republic for the famed architect Pete Dye as a site coordinator on the construction of the Links course at Casa de Campo in La Romana.
Some bulk grading and initial main drainage systems were being installed since the course was in the early stages of construction.
I had proposed to my girlfriend over the previous Christmas holidays and was making arrangements to travel back to Indiana at the end of May for ten days to get married. Pete volunteered to come to the Dominican while I was gone and run the construction of the course.
What a great idea!
I made detailed lists of the various tasks to be accomplished and who should do them during my absence for Pete, since he is known to not be the most organized person.
I departed the Dominican with full confidence in Pete and his abilities to keep us on schedule and on budget.
After getting married, and then spending a short honeymoon in Florida, I returned to the Dominican Republic anxious to see the progress on the course. Pete met me at the hotel upon my return.
“Everything could not have gone better,” Pete said. “What a great crew you have organized! The lists of tasks you left me were very detailed and helpful, too.”
I then asked Pete, “Were there many changes?”
“Only one,” he answered.
“Yes,” Pete said. “Only one; on the back nine. The more I walked the back nine while you were gone, the more I thought it would play better in reverse.”
Yes, Pete made the change and the course was finished with this new routing direction!
Now lay out routings of new courses and review other staff member’s routings, I continue to rely on Pete’s reversal as a reminder to look at all options, even routing the course in reverse, before deciding on a final routing. Thanks, Pete, for the great advice!
I was a design associate with Nicklaus Design in the 1990s. It was always tense when Jack would come for a course site visit. I always wanted the visit to go smoothly with no glitches.
One morning, in Canada, I met Jack for breakfast in his hotel room. Jack and I discussed what he would be seeing that day and I updated him on the construction progress of the course.
We left the room and took the hotel elevator to the lobby to meet the owners and the other staff members. The elevator stopped on the way down and an elderly lady walked in and began staring at Jack. You could just see her mind racing the more she studied him.
“I know who you are,” she finally said just as the elevator door opened. “You’re Arnold Palmer!”
The look on Jack’s face was priceless. He was very cordial, though, in correcting the lady.
“Ma’am, you have the right sport but wrong name,” he told her gently.
My compliments to Jack on how well he handled this awkward situation, as well as the many others he encounters with his celebrity status. It may have set the tone for the day; the site visit was perfect.