Roger Rulewich, as ASGCA past president, designed Ballyowen Golf Club in Hamburg, New Jersey; Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jackson, New Jersey; Fox Hopyard Golf Club in East Haddam, Connecticut; Grande Dunes Golf Course in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Saratoga National Golf Club in Saratoga Springs, New York. His notable remodeling work includes Yale Golf Club in New Haven, Connecticut; Half Moon Resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica; Tucker’s Point Club in Bermuda; and Palmetto Dunes, The Jones Course on Hilton Head Island.
The learning process on my way to becoming an architect had many highs and lows with my mentor, Robert Trent Jones. The most traumatic, and at the same time one of the most enlightening, happened when our firm was competing for the design of two courses in the Canadian Rockies for the Province of Alberta.
Several other architects responded to the “Request for Proposals,” a very comprehensive document requiring an exhaustive and detailed response to the concerns of the many government agencies. An area was already designated for the courses, but surprisingly, no layout or routing of holes was required for the proposals. This should have been a clue for me as to how the selection process would play out.
With Jones’ approval I went to work on our proposal. I visited the area in the dead of winter, alone and on rented snowshoes, which was almost a very serious mistake when darkness and exhaustion in the thin air caught up with me!
As a result of my due diligence and research, I thought we went well-armed into the interview process with all the information I had so laboriously put together, including our proposed fees for design. I was later told it was the most thorough of the many proposals offered.
But, just before the interview, Jones had a change of heart. Instead of using my proposal, he ignored our presentation, doubled his fees, insisted on using his own people for some of the work, and then told them that they were planning to build the courses in the wrong place!
I was distraught and convinced that we had blown it.
Upon leaving, we came as close to parting professional company as we ever had in thirty-four years of working together. Believe me, it was an uncomfortable ride home!
To my amazement, the selection committee allowed us to revise our proposal and even agreed to consider a new site. Eventually, we were awarded the contract. We overcame many physical obstacles to build two very beautiful and challenging courses by weaving them along and over the river. They have been a great success ever since and represent some of Jones’s best work.
For me, this experience was an unforgettable part of my learning process: Pride in one’s reputation; being unafraid to challenge convention and put forth new ideas; and properly charging for your services.
From the lows of the beginnings of this project to the highs of our success in the selection process, not to mention the ultimate high of creating great golf, this was a milestone in my education as a golf course architect.