The Latest Design Accessory? An LPGA Star
By Conor Nagle under Architecture

Karrie Webb: the latest LPGA member to be courted by an Olympic design team.

A few weeks ago, in a boardroom far, far away, someone had the bright idea of attaching the name of Australian LPGA heroine Karrie Webb to Peter Thomson’s 2016 Olympic design proposal.

In opting for the endorsement-come-assistance of the seven-time major winner, Thomson Perrett became the third of the firms pursuing the IOC nomination to publicly announce its partnership with a superstar of the women’s game.

Eager to outflank any lingering suspicions the selection committee may have regarding golf’s institutional elitism and gender bias, the shortlisted firms run the risk of highlighting the box-checking cynicism with which they’re approaching the design process.

As Darius Oliver writes, there’s very little to suggest that the partnerships will yield a challenging or innovative design:

“Despite no evidence at all that a design company teaming with an LPGA superstar can/will produce a quality golf course, it has clearly become fashionable to champion gender equality by tacking a famous female onto your design bid…

“At first glance, it appears most of the shortlisted candidates were selected based on brand recognition or established ties to prominent golfing bodies.”

It’s easy to dismiss as a triumph of optics over architectural rigour– and to feel a touch frustrated about the ease with which Sorenstam, Ochoa and Webb have allowed their interests to be patronised and co-opted–  but could the burgeoning trend yet prove a blessing for the women’s game?

The positives for the eventual winner have the potential to far outweigh the aggregate humiliations of the selection process.

Conor Nagle