In conversation with “Golf Course Industry” magazine, Kyle Phillips, ASGCA (Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design), recounts a career in golf course architecture that has taken him to more than 30 countries on five continents over 30+ years — among them Yas Links in Abu Dhabi, Valderrama Golf Club in Spain, Kingsbarn Golf Links in Scotland, and The Grove in England.

The Q & A includes:

As a world-renowned golf course architect, what are the key factors or principles you believe are essential to consider when designing a golf course to make it truly exceptional?

Well, the key factors if you are starting from square one: you must have water, or the accessibility to water, plus soils that you can grow in, and an owner who is committed to quality. Today, even in places where they must desalinize for drinking water, such as the Middle East or the Caribbean, it is often efficiently recycled and used for golf and other recreation. If you don’t have a water source, you don’t have viable project.

Also, it is always great when you have perfect contours for golf, but sometimes that is not the case. When folks understand what we are capable of doing and how we have transformed sites such as Kingsbarns, it inspires them and helps them imagine what could be possible on their land. The Grove is an example of good land. In terms of contours, there were some areas that were a little more dramatic than others. Most of the site has well-draining gravelly soils below. Even down by the river, there was good quality topsoil soil and overall well-draining soil.

The complete interview may be read here.