Alumni Profile: Tony Cashmore
Tony Cashmore is widely regarded as one of the best designers of championship golf courses around the world. The 63-year-old alumnus fell into the job he’s been doing for more than 30 years while working as an architect in France. Tony is now involved in the redesign of several holes on the East course at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, unquestionably Australia’s premier golf course. He’s also working on design projects in other parts of Australia, Asia and Europe.
While playing golf in France in the early 1970s, Tony beat the then French Amateur champion on two occasions. That prompted the French Golf Association to ask if he’d design a number of golf and residential projects near Paris. Tony accepted and his career in golf design began.
He did his first two projects between 1972 and 1974 before returning to Melbourne in 1975. His first course in Australia was Goonawarra in Sunbury. He then designed courses at Melton, Bright, Yarrambat Park and Kingston Links.
His big break came in 1992 when he was given the task of redesigning the former Limestone Valley Golf Club, which subsequently became The Dunes Golf Links Course. The Dunes is arguably his most notable design.
Tony has enjoyed a remarkable career that has taken him around the world and to many stunning locations. His passion for golf course design is intense but his interests do stretch beyond the fairways. He was a concert pianist at 15 and is an accomplished artist who paints in his spare time.
What does your current work as a golf course designer involve?
It involves looking at diverse sites and imaging how convincing golf courses can be created in the terrain. Very often I’m serving other built developments, such as residential components. We get involved in the planning of clubhouse precincts and clubhouses themselves. Most architects have little idea how these facilities need to work. There are a lot of golf related issues to work through. We work with various people to ensure a clear vision for the development is achieved.
What are some of the international golf courses you have designed and what challenges have you faced in their planning?
Once in France, we had to design the course so it didn’t impact on the gardens of a castle. The castle was going to act as the clubhouse. It was a challenge. There were also forests that couldn’t be touched. I’ve designed golf courses on rock and in sensitive sand dunes where stabilisation of the dunes was imperative as well as hilly sites in China.
What’s the most difficult decision you have had to make in your career?
To concentrate on golf course architecture instead of building architecture.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job?
The utter freedom to create something that is going to last for say one or two thousands years. A building might last only 100 years.
What inspires you about your job and life in general?
The people associated with this wonderful game of golf. It’s the greatest religion of them all and you meet wonderful people who are trying to pursue that religion to the best end.
When you were working overseas, what led you down the path of golf course design?
It was an accident. I was working as an architect and I was given the opportunity to do a golf and residential estate. That’s what started it all off.
How long have you been learning the piano?
I started at the age of three. By the time I was six I was doing six hours a day. When I was nine I was doing nine hours a day including lots of sport. When I was 12 it was full-time. I gave it away because I knew I wasn’t going to be at the top level. It’s the sort of career you only want to follow if you know you’re going to be at the top level.
What are your strongest memories of life at uni while you were studying architecture at Melbourne?
Some of the tutors who were terrific and some of the students who were mad and wonderful. I remember cramming for exams. That was fun. It was the best time of my life and I’d urge everyone to do it.
What do you like to do in your spare time – hobbies etc?
Golf, painting, literature and cooking.
Do you have any advice about life/career after study to pass on to current University of Melbourne students?
Keep your friends from university. They are people you should take with you on your journey through life.