The Challengers Christine Fraser
On screen text: Charles Schwab Presents
Christine Fraser: I’m not interested in designing top 100 golf courses. What I’m trying to do is invite people to the game through accessible architecture.
On screen text: The Challengers
A series about people who QUESTION. ENGAGE. SUCCEED
Christine Fraser: My name is Christine Fraser and I’m a golf course architect. How do I design for everybody? It’s so challenging. You’re trying to design for so many different people at once. You’re trying to design for the management, for the superintendent, for the person playing the forward tees.
So it’s a moving, shifting puzzle, where one piece affects the next. If golf doesn’t reflect the population of your demographics, if it doesn’t consider environmental justice, if it doesn’t become more inclusive and diverse, then golf might not be around in 50 years.
The single biggest question the game has to answer is: How do we become more diverse and more inclusive, to ensure the future of our game?
On screen text: How do we become more diverse and inclusive?
Christine Fraser: As a golf course architect, I consider myself a therapist. Being out on the golf course isn’t always about the game. It’s about human connection and being vulnerable and practicing your mental health. So it’s human development. It’s not just a game; it’s much more important than that.
I’d like to build a golf course that someone who feels like they’re on the margin can walk on the first tee and say, ”Wow, this was built for me.”
Today we’re at Camden Braes Golf and Country Club. This is where I grew up. This is my home. This was designed by Herb Wolfram and he’s my grandfather.
Margaret Wolfram: Christine has golf course architecture in her blood. My name is Margaret Wolfram and I’m Christine Fraser’s grandma.
When Herb and I were about 10 years married, we thought, ”We want our own business. We want a business that would involve the family.” And golf at that time was very popular. So Herb went off and looked for properties and we found the one at Camden Braes and that was it.
Christine Fraser: I learned a lot from my grandfather, even though he wasn’t a trained architect. My grandfather wasn’t a golfer, which makes this so interesting. He was a really practical person, and he was able to understand that if water is the most valuable resource that a golf club has, we can reallocate that resource by allowing the fairways to firm and brown. Then we create sustainability going forward—without giving up any fun.
Every day, I work to persuade people that there’s value in brown turf and there is value in a forward tee program.
Onscreen text: Every day, I work to persuade people there’s value in brown turf.
Christine Fraser: Firm and fast is a great equalizer because it allows the slower swing speeds to gain that extra yardage, but it also challenges the better players to consider their accuracy and their angles in the second shot, so it’s a win-win.
It’s right by the pin!
It’s really important to spend time at the golf course. And for me, the discovery and the fact-finding phase is on the golf course, but it’s also meeting people who experience the golf course and connecting with the membership and playing in ladies’ night, playing in women’s leagues, and playing in the men’s leagues, to understand how a cross-section of the membership experiences the golf course. But once we get to the design phase, it’s digital. It’s often difficult to show someone a 2D rendering of what your vision is. And so the development of 3D renderings, using the photos that we take, is such a helpful tool for people to understand where we’re headed.
Christine Fraser: If I had to define what a golf course architect is, for me, it’s someone who serves a community in some capacity. Golf has a race issue, golf has a gender issue, golf has a class issue. But for those issues, golf would be the most incredible game in the world. And I do respect the legacy and tradition and integrity that has been established over the last centuries. But if we don’t invite more people to the game, these clubs will not survive. And I want them to. I really do.
The dream is to design a modern-day St. Andrews, where the community comes and uses the golf course as the individual needs to, and it becomes a piece of the community that functions for people with disabilities and for beginners and people who have never believed in golf, and this changes their mind.
On screen text: Christine is currently creating a new master plan for one of the oldest golf courses in North America.
On screen text: ”Our profession needs more diversity to better serve the wide variety of people who play and love golf…. Christine Fraser is one of the bright lights of our craft, and we are excited to see the impact she will make.” —Gil Hanse
On screen text: ASK QUESTIONS. BE ENGAGED.
[Charles Schwab logo] Own your tomorrow
Christine Fraser: Am I happy sipping a Guinness out on the patio at men’s night? Yeah, sure, but am I happy out on the golf course on my own when it’s six o’clock in the morning and I’m the only one out there? That makes me happy.
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TORONTO HUNT CLUB
How do we become more diverse and inclusive?
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