NLU Podcast, Episode 315: Rob Collins


beater right club today. Yes that's better than most about. It is better than most than ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the no laying up podcast Today's interview I am so so excited to play it for you. We caught up with Rob Collins the designer and golf course architect of course for Sweden's cove we talk a lot about Sweden's co we talk about land man. We talk about the buck club. It's pretty encompassing. We've gotten bits and pieces of the sweetens. Cove story From rob on the podcast over the years and videos but we needed the whole thing in one place and that's what we got today and it got emotional at certain times he kind of teed up a little bit. I couldn't help tear up. You're talking about the story and I'm a sucker for a perseverance story of course. And Gosh he he tells it and you can see the effect that it's hat on their some shocking revelations about about that story so even if you're not familiar with Sweden's Cope. I think this that story is gonNA mean a lot to for people to hear so I wanNA give a shout out to our partner. Charles Schwab the Rob AND HIS PARTNER. Tad King are the subject of the late one of the latest study videos the Challenger series that they do you go to Schwab Golf Dot Com. You will see a series of the whole the whole lineup. For Season Two. For their challengers people that challenge the status quo imbues awesome films that episode four develops for them one of the subjects. You might recognize five of the subjects. You might recognize on that Web page but as well you'll see Robin Tad story on. They were going to tweet the link to that as well. Along with a link to this podcast. But they're the ones that kind of helped set up this this this network for the Challenger series of these podcasts. Were going to do. We did thing last year. Brought you might Kaiser and bill core and all kinds of Casey Martin. All kinds of great context Schwab's really doing some awesome stuff in the game of Golf Schwab. Golf Dot Com is where you can find all those and check out the kids video. We got a pretty sweet with. They came to kill House and made a nice little video on the five of us and turned out great. We're very humbled by that. One last shout out again to our friends at callaway of callaway golf dot com slash. The match they are. You can sign up to subscribe to the email for a chance to win a callaway. Seth staff bag signed by Phil. And there's some other signatures on that. I may say that you might recognize and you can also sign to win. A custom fit set of Calloway. Maverick clubs so keep an eye on their social channels throughout the week as they give you details on how you can win those you might even notice. They won the driver count at At the match of course is gaming. The Maverick but if you look closely in the bag of One of the quarterback. I'll just say the quarterback that was able to keep the ball on the planet. You might have seen a maverick driver in his bag and Also Chuck Charles. Barkley had had a maverick did he. I think he kinda threw under the bus. We're going to assume jokingly as he went to go tried at least make bogere better on the eighteenth hole kind the below bonus thing that they filmed early in the day. But Yeah if you look closely at the match. There was a lot of Calloway in the bag. And yes go to callaway GOLF DOT COM SLASH. The match the match has passed. But don't don't let this content go two ways there's good stuff on there fills podcast episode with. Calloway's up there and it It's it's classic. It's exactly what you'd expect from Phil but it's definitely worth your time so again. Go TO SCHWAB GOLF DOT COM. Go to callaway golf dot com slash the match without any further delay. Here is the man Rob Collins a while. I'll start this by saying you've been before you roam zach after the ringer a about a year and a half ago if we covered a couple things twice. I'm not worried about it. We're happy to welcome back. Mr Rob Collins. We are in the Sweden's house. Sweden's out the picture. A world that this something like this would exist. It people are buying real estate around one of your crazy. In fact Colton shed. Today he looked at me goes rob. This is just one of those days. Could you imagine this and it was when you know? Kisner was out there playing drew. Welcome and no couldn't have imagined this and here you guys are got kill. House north over here. The birdhouse believer got Sweden's wall to it. We we've been decorating. We built. You helped us built tells the front yard. What's in the Front Yard? We've got an awesome. The House next to the first green at Sweden's cove with with some friends of ours and we'll be renting it out to people over the of the years. It's the one that overlooks the first Basically the first of all the par-five so tell us what's in the front yard so the the guys had an idea forest to to help them build a little t in the front yard and one of our good friends Jesse Smith. A good friend of the program Got Him some sweet ASTROTURF. Got An excavator out here and got him a little flat spot. And then Justin Hill came out and dialed in a flat flat concrete pad and laid down the grass. So now the tenth attempt to is going the routing instead routing a good angle. Well it's funny. The the we were at the ringer I forget what it was about a year ago. I guess around this time and we're doing an alternate shot match and I won't through my partner under the bus but my partner hooks one. What would be on one? But it's everything's lateral here and it goes in this yard right next to a for sale sign and I had to hit it out of this yard and hit a hit onto the green as a wild shot and I came back and we like everyone's gotTa Buy House now and I walked in and to the clubhouse and I was like guys that House next number music art. Were already on it already. We already got the phone number. Down WE WANT WANNA buy. That's amazing out here. A couple of months ago with somebody and they were like I can't believe knowing that house. I knew I should have bought that house. So you had some you had some competitors and and I'm glad you guys swooped in nailed it. Well I WANNA talk a lot of Sweden's and we've done that before but I think people also have to know a couple of different projects you are involved in in in different parts of the process. Let's start with Landman for if someone is listening to this and has no idea what landman is What what is it? Where is it and what? What's the current Status Landman? Golf Club is a going to be a new eighteen hole course in homer. Nebraska which is about an hour and a half north of Omaha and is really on a wild piece of terrain sitting on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River and the analogy that I gave was like if sandhills and Shinnecock hills had a baby but instead of giving the baby straight milk they put some LSD MILK. This decide site that that's what they're baby would look like. It is insane like there's one tree on the whole site. It's just crazy rolling terrain. We got contacted by guiding Willy Anderson. His family owns a farm out there. And it's really important. Part of their family history has grandad used to own it and he's really good. Golfer loves golf and he contacted us out of the blue last summer and we went out there and saw in. Tatton our just like Holy Shit. Look at this place. I mean we've been fighting for five years to get that big break and we knew it right then when we saw it and it's funny because it's the opposite problem we had it Sweden's cove which was if you haven't played it. It's a dead flat piece of ground flat as tabletop and we had to pump everything up to make it interesting. We've moved two hundred and fifty. Three hundred thousand cubic yards of dirt in we you know built these features up to kind of create interest and contour. There were toning everything down and is it a site that would scare other potential architects. Is it that dramatic? It is that dramatic. I mean in fact there were Scare might not be the right word. I think it it it. It turned there was a few that were looked at it. There was one other guy who wanted to do a project there and fortunately we got it but there's another rather famous architect who looked at it and he felt like it would cost too much money to build a golf course there and he wanted to do a golf course down on a piece of property they have on some sandown by the Missouri River but when Tad and I looked at that site we felt like it was an interesting site but it had water table issues and we were doing and as it turns out. They had historic flooding in that area. This year in there was water all over that golf course. What would have been that golf course so we? We definitely made the right decision. And a site. Like landmines just really tailor made for us where we can turn gusts loose and let them do their thing and You know the end result. The end goal is to have everything tied down and look like we didn't move any dirt in have big broad. Tian's to do that and that's what we're GONNA do but in reality to build seven or eight holes seven or eight of the holes out. There require some pretty heavy moving just to make it work just to make in that like you said that softening. Its we're saw making your softening more dramatic the I wanNA make you repeat it because what you told me when I saw you last was describing. Forget I don't know what whole number it is but the sit walgreen you're designing landman the description of what that green at the the actual height in the elevations change within that green. Stunned me and I still struggling to understand. So what can you tell us about that? So if you don't know there's a famous green that Alister Mackenzie built at a place called Sitwell Park. And he received a lot of you know. Got A lot of FLACK FOR IT. But some people loved it but ended up getting getting demolished. But there's a picture you can Google Google sit. Well Park Alister Mackenzie. In this picture will come up. And there's seven or eight guy standing on different levels of this green and it's green. That's climbing this hill in. It's just insane green with all these different pockets and huge contours and Tad always wanted to do is sit well partnering. We've always look for place to do it. And we found this piece of land out there going to be the seventeenth hole and the end result is the green probably climbs twenty-five thirty feet from the very bottom to the top. And it's like it's GONNA probably end up being about thirty thousand square feet and it sounds insane but it I promise you it's actually going to work. I mean it's so big and so broad and it's a short par for so it works to a three hundred yard par four in you know if you get in the right spot you know you can make earlier eagle but it can punish you too so but it's just a different take on an old thing. We use the phrase their big break in. That was kind of something I wanted to talk about as well. What did it take longer than you thought it would have for a big break considering the success of Sweden's cove and especially It's it's a weird time. I WANNA do the time line here. But it was a long time before Sweden's cove got recognized by anyone but even once it started to be recognized it felt like kind of like he's got to be getting a big job at some point in. This feels like that big break to you. This is definitely our big break. There's no doubt about it and we you know we. We only do two jobs a year. Maximum this is our first great project on a great site for a great client and I was thinking about it last night. And it's like not only. Is this our first big job? We're like we've really got to hit a home run. So there's were trying really hard for that reason. But also for the Anderson family. I mean they gave us our break and we want to hit the biggest homerun ever for them. And so there's that side of it and then it's also just kind of reality that these types of jobs don't come along very often in we're just out there really buckling down. We're fortunate to have a lot of really talented people working with us. And I couldn't be happier about what I'm seeing so far. Yeah that's exciting. Well I don't we do some some sweeten stuff now because I've I've keep referring back to the lying four blog post by Wilbad while they did a great interview with you. And I'm not asking you to read to regurgitate everything word for word from it. But you mentioned we as in Your Group. I like you kind of describe. Your your firm is and who your company is and how that came to came to fruition and what your background in architecture is and how you ended up where you are today sure in in two thousand five two thousand six I was working for Gary Player is a what's called a design coordinator. It's basically like onsite architect carrying out the vision of of the senior designer from player and Tad Metal no project in Florida tacking. Tat-king my partner owner on a project in Florida called the area at Twenty Eagles which it's actually no longer in existence and Steve smyers ended up coming in redoing it but any long and short of it was and I were on that project and we noticed that there were real inefficiencies between the way things work between a contractor in the architect. I was having a hard time getting the contractor to do what do player group wanted. And every time you tried to make a little adjustment there was a change order and it was expensive and had looked at each other. We hit it off and got to be buddies and said look. Let's let's form a business. We'll call it King Collins and we'll be design build firm and we cut out all the BS in the middle and we'll have total artistic control and everything take take the whole project in the You know the the recession in two thousand eight really forced our hand and I moved home. Didn't have a job. I ended up having to do some landscape architecture work which was like pulling teeth for me not going to fast. Pass that you're in the middle of of constructing a golf course. That's right. I was exactly. We were doing a project up in wild stone. Cranberry British Columbia. Which I believe you you guys have played. I know tron splayed Neal's played it. It's a really neat golf course. We were right in the middle of that the day that was at Lehman Brothers collapsed and we were grasping the third very way now. I walked up to this guy named Ryan Kalinka who was grass in the hall and I just said Dude we're fucked. We're totally fucked. This is over and sure enough. You know month and a half later. We having a young family back to Chattanooga to live in my mom's house which is not the greatest feeling in the world is a point thirty three year old and so hey I did it when I was. I mean you know. I'm lucky we had a place to land but it was. That was a low point. You know I didn't this career that I was after was up in smoke and I didn't know when the next time I'd be able to do it was about a year later. Tad kept staying in touch and I said man. Let's just do it? You know let's go for it. And so in two thousand and ten we formed King Collins and right around that time we got real lucky and had this nine holder in the squashy valley pollen our laps. I mean he was A. It's a dream site for golf. There's already a great golf course right when you say population great market for Golf. So when you when I'm looking at this great picture of Terry D and it was a lot like the golf course is already there. Just we just push it around a little bit exactly so what? Gosh I don't even know where to start with it but what was here. What was here. And how did you end up convincing something someone this non existent for literally at zero work to its name correct to this point so hey let us design a golf course here? We got a really good recommendation from a local Chattanooga Golfing legend. A guy named Kingdom His family has a long history in golf in Tennessee. And he recommended me to the client. Who was the Thomas Stanley? The on a local concrete manufacturing company and they own the golf course which was the old squashy valley golf and Country Club in two kings always confused very confusing exactly. And so the Thomas is ended up hiring us to to rebuild this very decrepit nine hole golf course which at one time had been a really important part of the community here but had fallen on tough times gone through a couple owners and this is an important part of their family history and they wanted us to improve it. We set about doing that. We built a golf course in two thousand eleven. Two thousand twelve. It took us about a year to finish it. It's pretty clear early on that we had done. Something did had far outstripped the local market which we had been very transparent going into it. That was our intention. We I told reese I said look. Our goal is to build the best nine hole golf course in the world. If that's what you hire us if you don't want that hire somebody else. That's what we're that's what we want to do. And so they hired US and they had some difficulty on their end kind of knowing what to do with it and there are some differences of opinion about what to do with it and the golf course actually ended up getting abandoned in two thousand thirteen having never been open which the analogize give. When I tell the stories like that scene from Temple of doom when the guys Ritz heart out of people's just I mean I just remember that day. It was August thirteen. I just could not believe that. This golf course was finished minus some sand. Bunkers was not going to get open. And what how? How long had you been working on at that point? Well we We've grasped it out in two thousand summer of two thousand twelve in it was being maintained and I mean this little bit of a sidetrack here but the seed that we put out on the bunkers. If you've ever been to Sweden's cove there's like miles of bunker edge. It didn't germinate it was stored in a hot. This is trailer the framing around the frame around. The bunkers germinated in. So we were like well. I mean we've got a replant. It and I actually worked for free in all from like January to August of two thousand thirteen like redoing all the bunkers and helping the maintenance crew with other projects. Just just to get the golf course. Open we regressed all the bunkers and everything. And that's when that's when they pulled the plug but From It would have been. It was totally playable minus sand in the bunkers for the majority of two thousand thirteen. But that was at a time when it was. They just didn't know what to do with it so they were just kind of maintaining now is helping them maintain and helping them get the bunkers ready and everything and well. Let's let's backtrack a bit into. What is the golf course? What what became of the golf course. How what your inspiration was for it and how you came up with and how you would actually describe the philosophy of the golf course. It's unlike anything I've played before. But why is that well? It was really clear to me early on. I think there are a couple of factors outside of our control. That really helped drive the philosophy on it one of which is a nine hole. Golf course number two. It's in the middle of nowhere. And I told reese I was like look man. We've got to do something different. You know. We can't just come out here and do like something. That looks like nine holes at the honors. Course good as that may be we. We gotta do something different. We gotta be outside the box and one of my biggest architectural. Inspirations were heroes is strands and there's a lot of tobacco road out here. A huge fan of Pinehurst number to worship at the altar of Pienaar's number two. There's a lot of Pinehurst out here. There's a little bit of Pine Valley. There's I the original version of Augusta national was a big inspiration. Big Wide Corridors wild grains short grass everywhere. Tiny little windows where you really want to be in order to get the best angle you know you might have one hundred yard wide fairway but there might be a fifteen yard wide alleyway where you really. WanNa be and so. Those kinds of things were what we were thinking about. Which all that course handed down from the old course and Tad I wanted to basically mix it all up like if you put all these ideas in a blender and spit it out you might see something you'd say like Gosh. That kind of reminds me of Pine Valley or that kind of reminds me a her. I'm not quite sure. So everything in its. Physical representation is a little bit of a play on some of these things you've seen elsewhere and I think that's why it may feel familiar but different at the same time I don't like using the word easy with it but it is nothing. I don't WanNa say nothing intimidating about it because some of the slopes where you get the ball running away from you like hurt but I. I consider that the most enjoyable punishment in Golf. I hate hitting it. Ob I hate looking for balls. I hate hitting in the water. I I can't. I don't know anyone who loves going through multiple Gulf balls and around but you still want to be stimulated and challenged exactly at the same time. There's no shot. Almost no shots are. There's always a way to get to the holes here probably using some kind of slope. That's not right in front of you. That's right the first hole hits you right off the bat with? Hey like a big par-five you can come in with a five and you come with a three. Would you can come in with a nine hundred. Whatever you come in with but there are just eight different mounds around that Green Dunkin us to get to the whole hundred percent right and that. That's a lot of the philosophy behind it. And you know you. Lookit whole like number four. Which is a part three that semi-blind with the Twenty Thousand Square foot? Serpentine Green with all these mounds and falloffs and everything on its face. It looks crazy but what I was thinking about and what tad now. We're both thinking about during construction was like you know there's going to be easy. Pins on this. And there's going to be hard Ben's on this it's all about variety but also we were thinking. Okay let's say you have one hundred and seventy yard just standard par-three with a bunker on the right and it's angle bit in a bunker. Behind your average fifteen handicap is going. They play that whole Tin Times is going to have an average score of what maybe four or four and a half something like that and I mean they're going to. They're going to be a bogey Golfer on it in. I feel like that's basically the same thing that happens to you on number four at Sweden's cove even completely different. Awful like a fifteen handicap is probably gonNA average a for a little bit higher but one day they might just get absolutely ejected eaten alive in make like a six and then the next day they might have a little tap in Birdie. But it's like there's so many different options and so many different ways the game can play out on that that canvas that it's just it's more interesting and you know first time around you might look. This IS MICKEY MOUSE FOR. This is stupid this is this is too much but after you start to realize that you know. There's a lot of thought that went into it and it it asks things of you that maybe you're not accustomed to were you afforded a gosh. I was getting ready to say afforded luxury but I. That's just the wrong word to use in this whole entire time period but were you afforded the luxury of during this weird time period. Shortly after the financial crisis. There wasn't a lot of jobs to be had so that you had the possibility the time to basically extend your timeframe that you worked on this into making it a masterpiece under tight timeframe in doing this. Does that sound right? That's that's basically correct. I mean we did have a budget and we did have a timeframe within which we wanted to finish the golf course in do it under a certain budget but at the same time it was a home game for me and then Tad move down here for the last four months or so of it so we were able to dedicate ourselves one hundred percent of this thing in. That's a rare thing in in golf architecture. I think at the time there was maybe five or six golf courses being constructed domestically in the United States and the weird thing is to two of them were nine hole golf courses in eastern Tennessee. The other being the SALONA Golf Course. Right near where. I went to college just thirty minutes up the road from here and so that was kind of a weird quirky thing but we you know it was everything to us. I mean the thing that kept resonating in my mind was like if we screw this up there is no number two. We will never get another. I'm GonNA end up doing something I hate for the rest of my life. We cannot mess up and actually carried around this Carrying around two pictures my wallet. I got this golf holiday calendar for Christmas the year before and there was a golf course somewhere. I can't remember where in the northeast by I won't say the name of the architect in it was the most bland bunkering just total closure is no artistic input whatsoever just is a big waste bunker like the kinds of ones we're building out. Sweden's but it was just lifeless dead behind the eyes and I had a picture of I can't toured the golf course. The Fourteenth Boston Golf Club were the thirteen. Th You know that hold swoops down that really cool what the big artistic bunker gallon. Jim Did the punk in the middle of the centerline bunker and they took it out. That's Tugwell by IT'S A. I think it's a par five but it's got this amazingly artistic bunker along the left hand in I knew is obvious how much they tried. How much effort they put into that. I said this is. This is what we got. You know not necessarily on exactly copy that look but we're copying were or were deriving inspiration from that effort In construction to really build something special and so for me personally. One of my main responsibilities on the project had finished all the Greens and tees and fairways. I did most of the bunkering we had a assist from a core crenshaw shaper named Dan proctor who was awesome to work with to but when it all came down to it at the finish it was just me and Tadic in some local guys and every square inch of bunker out. There was ended up being hand edged by me and it was like I didn't care if it was like the back of of bunker island on the side of number three that you're literally never gonNA see unless you like duck hookup ball in their if it's like in front of number nine green everybody's GonNa see like all of it mattered to me. The exact same and that that was just the constant push was like just the more put into it. The more I wanted the more I wanted it the more I put into it and it was just became the snowball and it just it became part of me and I couldn't let it go. I could not let it go in. It just consume me. Yeah that's why I just felt like I owed it to myself like fucking work my ass off here you know. I got A. You can't stop now okay. That bunker doesn't look right. We'll get back out there and make it look right. Yeah even when I didn't want to or it was harder I wasn't you know I was working for free. Explain that you're working for free. I mean we had the client. Had you know completed their obligation to King Collins. They were they were great client. I mean I credit reese Thomas Our main contact with the he has as much responsibility for the existence of Sweden's cove. Is anyone I mean. He turned US loose. And let us go. And I'm just remarkably ca grateful for for that you know we we were done in two thousand twelve and it was declined at that point to get the golf course open. But as I told you the story about the bunkers and everything you know they were on a budget and there wasn't a budget to pay me but I was like well if I want it done right. I gotTa do it myself and so you know. I've had a few just like random landscape architecture jobs that I could do on the side to help pay the bills but basically all of my working time in two thousand thirteen was coming out to Sweden's and I was not getting compensated. How's that work within your family as well come days you know. She trusted me. A lot with this is really supported me. I mean it's not been easy for her. That's what I think. People can kind of tease people. That are part of the sweetens. It's a cult. I think at this totally recall but the story behind it is what makes it what it is. I mean and that's just that's one punch you got what are some other examples of just punches. You received along the way because that's not the only one. Well HERE'S A. Here's a humorous Poncho. We got probably in like June or July of the thirteen year. I came out in the morning. And if anybody's been spending any time around the Patrick Boyd friend former. Gm calls me the most hydrated man in America. I drink like two gallons of ice to you. I don't know why but I do and I came out in the morning and I had to pee really bad in I pull up. And there's a mobile drug lab that's GONNA test all these guys that are working for the concrete company. And why well? I don't know why but they were there. It was it was through the company in if those guys had gotten tested we had. We had a bunch of guys out there. At that point we had to like a pretty big crew going to help us get these bunkers right. I'm like if these guys get axed like. This isn't going to the WE'RE NOT GONNA finish. Yeah we need their help because you know every single one of them smoked weed or whatever and they were. They were going to fail. So I filled up the reason why the bunkers look so good exactly exactly so. I filled up a you know very own brand marion. County like twenty ounce mountain dew bottle with my own urine in took it down to the place where they were supposed to be in the cup. Every single one of them poured it in the cup in the past except for one guy who said Rob sprinkle a little bit of mine in there. And it's like why did you do that? He's anyway and I mean that's just one just one. That's just one example. I mean you know the biggest Gut Punch was the leaving them leaving the golf course and I actually got approach that day and they said Rob. Do you WANNA take over. I know you're the one who is most passionate about this and first reactions like well Hell No. I don't want to take it over. I want you guys to run it and thought about it for a day. I talked to I talked to Tad. I mean there's no precedent for that. No I mean I just I needed like one one millionth of a mile an hour wind behind my back to have I was going to jump off the cliff and so within twenty four hours. I decided I was going to in fact take it over. I needed a partner though in a look for a partner. Look for a partner in November of thirteen. I met architect nerve the founder as scratch golf in Patrick Boyd. Our Future GM. They came out to tour. The golf course of course has been abandoned for three months at that point in our he was like yes. Sure I'll do it and Mike sweet and so we got a break. We got real serious about the negotiations and then finally in May of fourteen. We took it over on our own. And and it was me and Ari and then and time we brought on some more people a huge kick in the teeth was we were chronically underfunded. We knew that we needed financial help. There was no way for me to do it ourselves and we had talked to a developer out Knoxville and that ended up falling through and we opened the golf course in October. Two thousand fourteen. I have some really funny pictures from that. Like Ron Whitten. The preeminent golf architecture journalists in the world and Adam Lawrence another one of the most minute golf architecture journalists in the world. He's from England. He was in the squad valley. For God's sakes to come to come to this opening in it was just the most cheapest opening you've ever seen in. My dogs are walking around. We had crackers. I mean was there. There's nothing you know. There's a blue porter let maybe in in case you're not familiar with Sweden's there's no. There's no food stand the clubhouse Yang shed. There's no bathrooms or any of that. So that does this House that the yeah exactly and so you know. We had these really important people in the world of golf architecture there just to see this opening and we ran out of money that day and I had to. You had to let the maintenance we had no more money in then so tatton. I maintain the golf course by ourselves. into like December Tad had to go home and go to another job ended up getting a job like in Jordan or some place in I continued to maintain the golf course for myself through the remainder of fourteen and then in early fifteen we raise some capital to kind of help us move on and we hired When you say maintain the golf course yourself. Are you mowing are you? Well it was. It was in the wintertime. And so there's a lot of bunker work the grass wasn't growing but it gets cold here in so you have to put tarps on the Greens and I'd have to pay out of my pocket to get three or four guys to help me put the tarps on the Greens. And it's an absolute beast trying to put tarps on these. Greens and and we did all that. Patrick and I have a funny story of Patrick's one of the most loyal guys ever in Patrick's like rob I believe in you. I believe in this place I wanna be the GM. I know you can't pay me now but just pay me my back pay. I'll sit up in the in the shed and so Patrick. We were open so patrick would sit in the shed not receiving any compensation on the hope that somebody would invest before April world around Because once the grass starts growing if you're not then you're then it's done if you're not getting play exactly and we weren't getting any play at the time and so even drum up play. Well we we were just scrambling so hard to get the word out but we would make a hundred and fifty dollars a day or something and all that money was going to the bank to keep the equipment package. We were way behind on our lease payments and they were threatening to take the equipment. They took the equipment we were done. Which was going to be compounded by me. Probably having to file personal bankruptcy and all this other stuff and so we just kept maintained. The golf course. We'd get some money and we raise some money in February. Would like right in time when we hired brand still our superintendent and as an awesome job out here and we open with you know very very limited maintenance crew and we got caught up on our lease payments and and then we just kinda just barely just one foot in front of the other for for a long time. But it's still I mean fourteen and then the you tell me the time line into fifteen where you know. You're getting play your your German on veterans money's not flowing in no not at all in fact we were hemorrhaging cash and we. We were losing losing losing money. All through fifteen lost money lost money in sixteen which we have this thing right now called this the summer. Sixteen that Sweden's where we've changed our way. We're running the business where we limit the number of people on the golf course on the weekends. We it's like the summer sixteen. Riyadh like this really well. Maintain Golf course but nobody was on it. It was like this magical time. I mean the only thing that sucked about it was we were constantly worried about going out of business but hopefully you've got some playing we you exactly got a little play in it was it was just a kind of a wild time to go out there on like a seventy degree day and it would be. There'd be like ten people on the golf course and the courses in perfect shape and it was very stressful and then fast forward to two thousand seventeen at the end of two thousand sixteen. I took one last insane financial risk that was just I mean. If it didn't succeed I was really in big trouble personally. And the golf course was definitely done. And we were just blasting through money in two thousand seventeen even with a shed on top of the hill of minimal maintenance crew. We just could not make the dollars work in golf course business highlighting. How freaking hard? It's really hard why you don't WanNa manage it yourself really hard in so. I had gotten to be friends with this guy named Dylan to chair. Who Now writes for for Golf Magazine and Long Story Short? He calls me and says that was right. Wanted to write a story about Sweden's Govan. He was gonNA shoot for the stars and try to get it in the New York Times and it was like sleep. Go for it. Good luck with that. They'll probably end up in. You know who knows what publication but he called me and early August the two thousand seventeen and said that he had done it. The Times was GONNA pick it up and this was at a time when I was working on a project tad down in Florida and I was in full panic mode. I mean I was absolutely freaking out. It was we were done. I was convinced that we were done. And we had just a tiny little bit of money in the checking account. My last minute gambit had not worked at veiled we were failing in that thing went in the times and it just it saved it. What what we started cash flow and at that point. What was the uptick? After it was immediate. I mean we two straight months. We actually broke even or made a little bit of money and it was Patrick and our just in our other investors were just beside ourselves like Oh my God. This could actually work. You know like we just got this tiny little glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. We just Kinda kick the door down. Do I have this right and I guess as wills articles well to this day you've never drawn salary from Sweden's cove. I've never made a penny to this day. I still haven't made a penny made anything as insane. I understand that okay so all right so fast forwarding now twenty seventeen in near two thousand seventeen kind of when you start positive. Twenty eighteen is a good year when he was you know we. We did okay in Twenty Eighteen. But it wasn't you know we we were growing aren't quite connecting yet. But it was. It was like it wasn't to the point of losses. Where you were you know. I could put some money in from you. Know if King Collins had a project I could you know I could take some of the money I made from that and put it in prop it up for a month or two and that kind of thing but you are actively looking to be out of the man one hundred percent of data we were in that was the whole thing all along was like Rem Patrick and iron or other investors. Like we've got A. This is a great golf course. People love it storing to develop a following. We know that there's somebody out there we know it in. That was the whole intention. Was We gotta find that we talked? We had talked to so many people in Chattanooga so many people you know across the country and I mean I'd to develop a little bit of a chip on my shoulder about it with respect to the Chattanooga thing I'm just like I cannot believe that there's somebody in Chattanooga who doesn't want to get involved out here I mean I I can't understand it and the the more knows we heard the more pissed off. I got in the more at Doug Matt heels in the bunkers like the more up into the harder on stuck my feet in the ground which something. I've always noted with you. Is You have a tremendous pride in this place in a confidence in it you know it was not like Oh maybe it's not that good. Maybe it's not worth it. It's always like no no. This is my thing and it's great. It is great. I always admired people. That are it confident enough in what they've done to be proud of it in that way you wouldn't have risked everything. Yeah no absolutely I mean it was like this place is totally worked in it and it will work. I know it'll work in. I know we can make it work. We've just got to find the right person. In the fact that it took four years four or five years was just just a total head. Scratcher I but if you were to make a wish list of people that you would want to be a part of this ownership group in the state of Tennessee. What would that wishlist look like? Well I want you to tell the story in sequential order so your dream you will. Yes so Patrick. Are Dreaming in two thousand sixteen seventeen eighteen and we would sit on the porch and talk about people and like man if we could ever get paid manning in interested in this like he's a cool guy. He loves golf. Who knows I mean he would? He'd be the ultimate guy. I mean the list was Peyton manning at number one and then the number one hundred ninety nine summit somebody else I mean. It's just there's no way he was the one that we ultimately want more than anyone. So there's rumblings. When do you start hearing some rumblings that you have some interest in a potential and potential buyer or investor? Group went and kind of walk us through that time so I was sitting in the shed working checking people in September of two thousand eighteen. Kind of the season's kind of winding down and I got a phone call out of the blue from this guy named Mark Rivers. Who's a partner with another guy named? Skip Bronson they have a ton of real estate. Experience skips really into golf and marks talking to me about this project that he's interested in King Collins doing in New York and I thought well. That's that's cool. I'd love to meet this guy and mark comes out and we hit it off and I'm giving you mature around sweetens and he starts asking me questions and I'm like I don't think he's only interested in this project in New York. Just the way the things he was asking me and then very matter of factly at the end after he bought some merchandise. He looks at me goes. Yeah I think we'd be interested in getting involved here too and I was just like. Oh Yeah here. We go in We had just come off a very serious conversation with another golf developer. Well Known Golf Developer. Who had made a very serious offer to us to take. Sweden's off of our hands in. He just wasn't offering enough and we said no. We walked away from that point in time. We were like it has to be the right fit right at this point. We've we've kind of. We'RE NOT MAKING ANY MONEY. But we're not gonNA have any destitute either. We've got an asset. We've got to find the right person so we were. We knew we needed the right group in the conversation. In the tenor. The negotiations with mark in skip in Were completely different than anything I'd ever encountered the first three years it was always just total dismissal from people like oh they'll never work. You're basically an idiot for doing this and then it was like. Oh yeah this place is amazing. We WanNA steal it from you mark. Skip were like we want to be partners and we want to give you the rocket fuel that displaced needs to really take off and as it turned out we cut a deal with them and mark was really good friends with Andy. Roddick and Andy was part of the group and the in. Another guy named Tom Nolan. Who is really well connected in? The golf industry used to run the golfs. Ralph Lauren Division and is very well connected. He's part of the ownership group. It was just a dream the dream scenario and that all came about right around the time of the the ringer in in believe it was in March of Nineteen We were kind of ceiling that deal up sealing the deal up and so you go out to dinner with with mark. I believe that's right now to settle it. Well we we actually mark and I. We had a deal in place and I was going to get to go meet. Tom Nolan for the first time. I'd never met Tom Marks. Let's go we're going to go out to dinner and Tom's coming in town and we're GONNA meeting. I'm like okay. Great that's awesome so we went to this. Ruth's Chris Steak House and I'm sitting at the bar with mark and my back's to the door and mark goes. Oh Hey they're here in a thought they that's kind of weird thought. We only meeting Tom and I turn around in walking towards. Is this guy. That's one guy that I assume. Was Tom Nolan. The other guy. That definitely wasn't Tom. Nolan was peyton manning in paid. Walk Up to me and goes peyton manning and I said Hey I'm Rob Collins and mark goes and he's your fifth partner and I'd just like Holy Shit come believable in walking through a crowded restaurant on a Thursday night and Chattanooga to a back room behind Peyton manning and looking at the looks on peoples faces covered seen I mean. He's you know people just like. Oh my meaning you know he had. He has a way in the states own for sure. But it's like how do you go from everything you're talking about from twenty thirteen to that moment so it was insane texted denise and? I said you'll never guess who the fifth partner is. She texted back and she goes peyton question. Mark in an senator this Gif of one Payton in one of those commercials where he's not in his head and and then I texted Brent Brenta huge Tennessee. Fantasy said you'll never guess who the fifth partner is and he goes. Oh Shit I'm going to Shit Peyton. That's like just wait till tomorrow. You'll see and I believe you relate the story of you call and Patrick. Give Patrick a call and say asked him. The question. Like who's WHO's the one I said Patrick who's the one guy we want. Peyton unbelievable it was. Just I mean every time I read wills piece. I get choked up in the restaurant thing. I mean it gets me every single time. I just can't believe that happened. We were so close to dying so many times in then to like hit a walk off. Grand Slam in the bottom of the ninth. The world series like out of the Stadium Bat Flip Insane. And now you're onto landman now now we're on the land man and you know. Sweden's is The analogy I give is it. It's like a fruit bearing tree and it took a long time for it to bear fruit but now it is in in now. We're getting those phone calls that we always wanted and I always used to get kind of triggered an ad spout off on twitter every now and again about you know. Oh you know so and so's doing a golf course in. Well they're gonNA look David McLay Kidd core crenshaw and in Tom Doak and now they might cowgill Hans to and it's like big fucking surprise. Really you know but you know sweetens just kept growing in everything that Tad have is. Thanks to Sweden's I mean the leads that we get. I just talked to a client today. You know looks like there's something that could happen to that was thought was shelved and that's thanks to Sweden's landmines. Thanks to Sweden's wills buddy. Cj knew all about Sweden's go will actually hadn't heard of it and so you will interviewed a few other architects and and everything and Jaysekulow colleagues guys did Sweden's Govan so we'll emailed me and I emailed him back and that's how it happened. You know. No Sweden's no nothing. Well what would you? Who have done if you. It's hard to say. Now you landing in such a great situation finally after so many years of perseverance. But what would you have done differently? Man Gosh I don't know I think the perseverance was an essential part of it but You know without that. It wouldn't happen but like maybe we could have been a little more proactive here and they're trying to talk to different investors but it was always a hard conversation but the funny thing about it is is like if I had done something differently. The history may be completely rewritten. And we wouldn't have gotten that grand saying we would have liked. Hit a double off the wall. Butterfly Effect is to. Yeah it's too. It's too much we didn't win did I? Don't remember this until recent years. When did the flu? We kinda hinted at the top. When did the flooding hit you? When it CA- where does explain to US WORSE? Weeden sits and what happens periodically up here in Ny Sweden's in a in a flood plain next to a creek call battle creek that spills into the Tennessee river and periodically. The Golf course floods. We had one flood during construction and it was rather harrowing that the first time he just can't believe that all this sand and all this shaping that you've put together like water and we all panicked and then it goes away. Goes down through the drainage system and it goes away and normally when you put the word flood and golf course in the same sentence. It's like this brings up these really bad images but traffic at a stop out of images like like the greenbrier where there's rocks all over the Greens and stuff. But that doesn't really happen here. Kind of just comes up slow and goes away and like this year was just the worst year we've ever had with letting it flooded eight or nine times in in and I feel so bad for Brenton guys. I mean they've got to go out there and put it all back together and I mean it's funny. You look at their certain parts of the golf course like over by number three and number five where the water comes across and it comes across it the exact same point every single time. It's been doing it for thousands of years and it just rips of Santa Right out of the right out of the bunker and they have to go and put the sand back in that same spot and nine times a year and you clean all the debris off in the fish out of the catch basins. And it's just a nightmare. But it's a resilient course to it survives me buying it today. It was in incredible shape. I I couldn't complement Brenton. Those guys enough. I mean for the condition that Sweden's in right now with all that water. They've done a remarkable job. It was fast and firm and degrees are incredible right now all right well. We're almost fifty minutes into this chat and we haven't talked about the buck club yet which has been we. We had you on the podcast a year and a half ago with Zach. We're someone talking about. We got to answer talking about the Book Club. The plans for it I think at that time Zach insinuated that the dodgers might would hopefully start in. May of twenty nine thousand nine. Yeah that did not happen job but the club is active in running so tell us about where things currently stand so zach has had his eye for a couple of years on piece of land in the sandy piece of land in the southeastern United States where he could potentially launch the buck club and of course it was always considered a Utah project and that was the intention but as we got into trying to make the numbers work between a very expensive land purchase in a very expensive construction because that golf course on the upper one hundred side out in Morgan. Utah needed to be sand. Capped you needed drainage and it was double the amount that it's going to cost to build even more holes in the southeast on sand. It's not possible to just put sand down on US soil and had it be the way you WanNa play. It just takes a long time in cost money. I mean you have to bring that sand in Zach found sandy site which is the ideal you know soil for golf. Course it requires less drainage so it costs half as much as it would've cost to build it out in Utah and when you start talking about those kind of differences in numbers you get into a place where were economically. The but club starts to make sense in so Zach is secured. This really remarkable piece of Land Sandy. Four hundred seven acres rolling terrain. It's pretty funny. Zach Zach has one of the most creative minds of anyone I've ever met in. He's always tweaking around with the routing in the whole designs and stuff that he's putting together and he'll send me these these voice text messages and I was listening to one the other night and denise goes. Oh here we go again. He's got his voice. It's very distinctive. And he's okay. Here's what I'm thinking on number three so got fucking sick. Dogleg and this and that and those necessary. It's it's so fun to to go through that process with him and He's actually got a lot of founder commitments already. I just thing is happening. It's really happening. How many holes? Where is it disclosing? The Zach has a absolutely brilliant concept This was his idea. We were out there two weeks ago. Walking around originally we thought we were GONNA do thirty six and then it was going to be eighteen. We were trying to route the best eighteen holes in Zach looks at me and goes I think we ought to do like four different loops of of six also twenty four holes. The clubhouse is going to be cited kind of in the middle of the property so that lot of times the halls are kind of coming back to the middle of the to the clubhouse and his idea is to have a championship routing then off of that. There's like three or four different routings. Were you could play a like a sixty eight hundred yard. Par Sixty nine coarser a. You know six six courses. There's a short course. And there's all these different iterations of the routing in those twenty four halls and so what the concept is in the mornings. You'd play the quote unquote you know championship. Pbc course the you know kind of the big one and then in the afternoon on Monday. Let's say it's routing number be and then on the afternoon on Tuesday it's routing see on afternoon following dates routing de so you kind of get always getting a different different look and then the way the cabins are going to be set up. It's really cool. You can come out the back of your cabin and play quick. Three or four or five whole loop. It's just tons and tons of variety. Great piece of ground there in a square inch of that four hundred seven acres. You couldn't easily build a golf hold on. So he's got tons of potential. Everything's lined up with financing and Landon everything. It's you guys are way further along. We're a lot further along than we were in Utah. He's he's working on the financing side of it but he's he's raising that right now in. The land is is lockdown so he's not funding it just from selling hats correct. That's right yes exactly. We got real real exactly real serious founder commitments of a real dollar figure completely private so if I missed this can well My understanding at the moment is to have a private time of year and then also a public time of year. Okay so it's a little. It's a little bit of both okay. So so everybody would get a chance to play with Nicole the original routing of the BUCK CLUB IN UTAH. We have it hanging up in our in the. I want to know how much of that the ideas you guys came up with their. How much is bleeding over into the new routing? How many holes are similar notes completely? Different piece of land is completely scrap in separate or I would say I would say that the the holes are not necessarily transferable but the mindset in the design philosophy behind it is is the same know. The Club in Utah was all about you know multiple avenues to the whole width. And you know all kinds of different playing scenarios short grass everywhere. It's a similar concept but just more fit to this different site. That's exciting. It's GonNa be fun to follow. It is pumped about wrapping wrapping all this up in kind of summarizing your career in golf your life in Gulf. What's what's your overall message about it. How do you? How do you summarize tied together? Everything you've been through and where you currently are it's just. It's been a unbelievable ride. You know I get phone calls and emails and stuff from guys who in turn with this which I wanna do I wanNA pass. Pass the buck along to people who helped a in. I always say guys like you know you're going to hear and the word no ninety nine times for every time you hear the word yes and if you really WanNa do something in golf or golf architecture just focus keep working hard keep plugging in good things happen and I think I believe that's true. I think you focus and have own in goal and and don't give up you're GONNA get good results well in my head. I like to give us credit for how hard we work to like. Build our brand but in in comparison like we haven't really faced adversity. I don't I don't know if I can actually pretty confidently say. I don't know if I would have lasted as long as you did. As far as getting punched in the face as many times. And we all get to. That's what I kind of think I said this at the end of the video that we made at the ringer. Sweden's thank you for building. That brings a lot of. It does bring a lot of people together and it could have very easily very very easily not gone away well and I always say you know to you guys that Sweden's would not exist without knowing up period would not exist tron played it with Neil in two thousand fifteen and sixteen and we're in Patrick and our working out in the shed all those days. We always ask you. Where where did you guys hear about it? And I mean every single day even when it wasn't crowded. Oh we heard about it from from laying up or the fried egg and in you guys are a huge part of the reason that we're here in the fact that you guys have this House. Here is like the perfect. You know it's story okay. Awesome so we. We both equal contributions to Sweden's Co. We oughta go hit some shots and we should go play. We grab a couple beers. Have you got to do it? But thank you for finally sitting down and doing the whole story of guy you big hug at the end we do corona fake exactly welby eighty real hugs but thank you rob Collins and let's go right club today. That's better than most about that is better than most.

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