Don Placek joined the company in 1997 to run the day-to-day operations in the office but soon was making valuable contributions in the field as a lead associate. The most talented graphic artist in the group, Don is still primarily responsible for drawing the plans for our new designs while keeping track of Tom and the rest of the company. He is the first contact most clients have with us and as a result is involved in the planning phases on many of our projects.
What has been your favorite learning experience in golf?
"My time as a caddie really shaped how I view the game because I learned how varied people's personalities and golf swings can be. The best caddies learn to navigate players around the golf course in a manner that best suits each player’s abilities. The best golf designers do the same. Dr. Alistair Mackenzie wrote of creating opportunities for “pleasurable excitement” during a round. These moments - striking a confidant drive over a bunker, watching a running shot scurry toward the hole or making a long, breaking putt – leave a positive mark on a golfer and keep him coming back for more.
I have always felt that successful caddies and golf architects, at the core, should have a fundamental element in common, that their highest priority is making golf FUN!."
What is an aspect of design most people don’t consider?
"How much the cost of building new courses has affected the accessibility of the game. Regardless of whether a course is public, private or somewhere in between, unnecessary earth-moving and the cost of repairing the disturbance significantly increases the construction budget. Ultimately this debt is serviced by golfers - members, vacationers or daily fee players . When designers spend more time in the beginning, configuring the holes so they adhere naturally to a property, more resources remain for artistic elements while huge savings are realized on line items like drainage, irrigation, and landscaping. Unnecessary earthwork, drainage and irrigation costs golfers more in green fees, dues and assessments over the lifetime of their playing days than they will ever know."