Brian Huntley is president of Uniontown, Ohio-based Brian Huntley Golf Sense, Inc. He earned his BSLA from The Ohio State University and began his design career with Arthur Hills and Associates before forming his own firm. Huntley has created Ohio courses such as Deer Creek in Bellville, Kennsington Golf Club in Canfield, Eagle Creek Golf Club in Norwalk, and the Quarry Golf Club in East Canton.
Several years ago, while working for Arthur Hills and Associates, I had the opportunity to work on Bighorn Country Club for Westinghouse, a project that required numerous site visits to California. It was not unusual to get a phone call on a Monday requiring a site visit the next day. Typically, I would clear these emergency site visits with Art to get his approval. However, after one urgent phone call, in particular, I felt it was critical that a member of our firm be there. I was unable to contact Art in time to discuss the issues, so I made a judgment call and moved forward with the travel arrangements to Palm Springs.
The next afternoon, I was in Palm Springs working with their engineers to solve some lot and golf corridor issues. We worked well into the night solving most of the owners’ concerns.
The next day, I had to inform the owners about some of the necessary changes to the course. Mainly, the fifth and sixth holes needed to get pushed up into some significantly steep, but interesting, terrain. The best way to quickly convey these changes was to go to the physical site itself, so the owners and I crawled by hand and foot to the new tee and green sites.
It was quite a feat to get up to the site, let alone tell the owners that it would cost them $200,000 to $300,000 more to implement these changes and continue to build the course. To ease this blow, I quickly explained how the new holes would work with the lots and how, in fact, several more million-dollar lots, with spectacular views, were created. Needless to say, upon hearing this angle, the clients were relieved and, in fact, quite pleased!
I quickly said my goodbyes and hurried down the mountain toward my rental car. I was doing pretty well, dodging rocks and negotiating around swales, but my momentum was picking up! About halfway down, I tripped on a loose rock and went down hard. I tumbled down the rest of the mountain, and it seemed to take forever before I landed in a heap at the bottom.
I did a quick check and it seemed nothing was broken. So I returned to my quest to catch my flight. No one could have been more surprised than me that I actually made the flight! The plane doors were closed behind me and as I made my way to my seat, I noticed other passengers staring at me. It wasn’t until I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror that I knew why. I was cut up, bruised, and dirty, and had a ripped shirt. I looked as if I had been on the losing end of a fight. I cleaned up, settled back in my seat and reflected on how stressful but rewarding my visit had been.
A couple of years later the Skins game was played at Bighorn. I watched it on TV. The announcers were discussing the spectacular view from the tee of Hole six, a par four, 505-yard hole with a hundred-foot drop from tee to landing area. They even had a “hang time” stop watch on the tee shots! I just watched and laughed to myself, remembering my first “trip” to that tee site.