Even when your audience is already familiar with you, first impressions matter when you take on a new position. Forrest Richardson, the newest president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), is well aware of that fact. His new, year-long role comes more than 30 years into a career designing and renovating dozens of golf courses in the United States and Mexico.
Golf insiders tend to perceive the ASGCA as a bit traditional, more rooted in the past than hungry to shape the future. Their official regalia is a blazer in the (Donald) Ross family tartan, after all. But Richardson's eyes, wisely, are fixed ahead. His 14-minute presidential debut video reads more like a forward-looking manifesto than a traditional inaugural address. He's comfortable in this medium - his father invented 3-D film technology, he says at one point - and leverages plenty of still photography and drone video to blend philosophy with aspiration. Central to Richardson's message is a conviction that golf courses - and their architects - need to be flexible and unafraid of scaling down to fit contemporary demands on time and space. "The open spaces of golf courses literally serve as the lungs of society," he says early on. But he also calls for his fellow architects to "keep looking at new formats for courses" and "think of new ways we can play and enjoy the game."
Even before ascending to the ASGCA presidency, Richardson has practiced what he preaches out of his Phoenix, Ariz. office. One notable project has been at Mountain Shadows, a midcentury-modern resort with a 21st century approach to golf. Richardson renovated the original course by his mentor, Jack Snyder. Now, the fun, popular par-3 layout helps the resort attract a steady stream of visitors in spite of its modest footprint.