Peter Thomson OA, CBE, the five times Open Champion, has opened a new London branch of his golf course design business to target the growing European market. The practice (Thomson Perrett), which is one of the most prolific and highly regarded in Australia, Japan, Indonesia and China – and is best known in the UK for the Dukes Course at St Andrews (1994) – has also taken on a new partner, 34-year-old golf course architect Tim Lobb.
Lobb, originally from Melbourne, was previously employed by European Golf Design (an IMG/European Tour company) and worked alongside Mark O‘Meara on the layout of the acclaimed O‘Meara Course at Carton House, Ireland. He will now manage Thomson, Perrett & Lobb’s European business, as well as projects in the Middle East and Africa.
Thomson Perrett & Lobb offer a comprehensive range of consultant services to the golf course development industry including project feasibilities, master planning of integrated resorts and residential communities, golf course design, landscape architecture and clubhouse design.
Peter Thomson, who will be in St Andrews in July 2005 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his Open Championship victory there, said, “While we are a fairly sizeable golf course firm and remain extremely busy in the Pacific Rim countries, we haven‘t been able to service Europe and the Middle East in the way that we would have liked. But with Tim, who has an outstanding professional reputation and detailed knowledge of the European golf market, we will be in a strong position to win new projects in the region.”
As well as targeting the growing markets in Scandinavia, France and Germany, the company is also looking to break new ground in the developing golf nations of Eastern Europe.
Ross Perrett, who is also president of the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects, explained, “We recognise that there is an emerging market in Eastern Europe and, with so many people from countries such as Croatia, Romania and Turkey having settled in Australia over the years, we are keen to do business there.
“In the same way Peter pioneered golf in Japan and Indonesia in the 1960s and 1970s, and more recently in China, we relish the opportunity to help new golfing countries set themselves up. In Indonesia we trained a number of people who are now more than capable of building quality golf courses. It would be a valuable legacy if we could achieve this in Eastern Europe, too.”
The company is already in discussion regarding one proposed project in Romania, with others in the pipeline.
Thomson and Perrett has designed and remodelled more than 200 courses in 30 countries. Its most highly regarded work is the Moonah Links Open Course in Victoria, purpose built for the Australian Open and destined to become the Home of Australian Golf.
But the company has also won international acclaim for a variety of developments including Finna Golf & Country Club, which tip toes through rice paddies in Eastern Java, and Tenjo City, a 3,500ha development on the outskirts of Jakarta, incorporating a city centre, recreational and community facilities, plus housing and three golf courses.
Peter Thomson added, “Although most of our work has been in Asia – and we have six projects underway at the moment in various countries including China – we are not Australian intruders coming into new territory. I have been visiting Europe every year for the past 55 years and feel very much at home.
“I believe I am the only Open Champion who has a house in St Andrews, which is amazing because it is such a marvellous place to live and play golf. Spending time there is a great education for any course designer.”
Tim Lobb, whose most recent work is the stunning Vanajan Linna Golf and Country Club near Helsinki, Finland (for European Golf Design) – due to open in summer 2005 and tipped to host a European Tour event in the future – is excited to be joining his fellow Australians as a partner in the business.
“Peter is one of the few great champions who is also a genuinely outstanding, hands on golf course designer,” he said. “I have long admired his distinctive style, so often inspired by the links course principle of playing the ball along the ground, combined with Ross‘ sympathetic working of the landscape and environment to create wonderfully natural looking courses.
“But what also sets the company apart is its strong reputation for working closely with clients, its integrity in business and delivering cost-effective projects. We look forward to creating some very special courses and golf developments across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”
Thomson Perrett & Lobb www.tpl.eu.com