Beau Welling is sitting at a large table covered with maps, plats, and drawings in his office in downtown Greenville when his phone vibrates. He picks it up and glares at the screen with obvious irritation. “I think this is the greatest thing ever and the worst thing ever,” Welling says, holding up his iPhone. “It allows us to be so efficient, and allows us to be busy and working all the time, but the connections are at a distance. They are not rich.”
Welling spends a lot of time thinking about connections, and why they are vital. As a golf course designer, Welling’s goal is to bring people together to connect with an experience that is both aesthetically pleasing and strategically challenging. As a member of Tom Fazio’s firm, Welling helped design and redesign some of the most remarkable golf courses in the world: Sage Valley, the Seaside course at Sea Island, the Canyon course at Barton Creek, Pinehurst #4, and many more.
Coursing Through // Having designed world- renowned golf courses with Tom Fazio and now via his own firm, Beau Welling is famous in the golf world. But with degrees in physics and international business, Welling has a diverse, and unusual, repertoire.
After a decade with the Fazio team, Welling had an itch to branch out on his own and diversify beyond golf. So, in 2006, he started his own firm, Beau Welling Design. He now has offices in Greenville and Asheville and works on projects all over the globe including Dubai, Portugal, and Tianjin, China, where Welling recently co-designed the 27 Club, a 27-hole course with each hole designed in collaboration with a major-championship winner. One of his most recent projects, Bluejack National in Houston, in which Welling worked alongside Tiger Woods, has been said to “evoke the look and feel of Augusta.”
But “golf course designer” is just one piece of Welling’s repertoire. He studied landscape architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design and Irish drama at Trinity College in Dublin. He has a degree in physics from Brown University and one in international business from the University of South Carolina. He’s been both an investment banker and a poet. And he’s currently an urban planner, a landscape designer, a strategic thinker, and somewhat of a Renaissance man. He estimates that he’s on the road three quarters of the year, and when he’s not laying out a new course or urban center, his attention is on his true obsession, curling. Welling is the U.S. representative to the World Curling Federation, which led to him spend four and a half weeks at the Sochi 2014 inter Olympics. To share his love of the sport, Welling created the Palmetto Curling Club in Greenville in 2010. The club now has about 70 members who can be found most Tuesday evenings sliding and sweeping across the ice of the Pavilion Recreation Complex in Taylors.
“Creating spaces and places that get people to slow down, have a cup of coffee, have a conversation, play a round of golf, whatever it is, that’s pretty exciting to me.”
Welling grew up in Greenville, and when he left for college he swore he was leaving for good, but now he can’t imagine calling any other place home. “I love living in Greenville, and I love seeing it continue to evolve and progress,” he says. Now Welling is helping shape that evolution, with his firm serving as the urban planner on the Camperdown project, the redevelopment of the Greenville News site that will include office space, a hotel, apartments, and a large public plaza where Welling hopes people will gather and connect. “To be involved in some projects downtown that are helping to shape and take Greenville to the next step is particularly rewarding,” he says. “Our firm is involved in very diverse things, but the thread that connects them all conceptually is this idea to bring people together and gather. Creating spaces and places that get people to slow down, have a cup of coffee, have a conversation, play a round of golf, whatever it is, that’s pretty exciting to me.”
THE 27 CLUB IN TIANJIN, CHINA, ONE OF BEAU WELLING’S CURRENT PROJECTS, FEATURES 27 GOLF HOLES CO-CREATED BY SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST PROFESSIONAL GOLFERS, INCLUDING FRED COUPLES, GREG NORMAN, LEE TREVINO, AND ANNIKA SÖRENSTAM.