Thomson Perrett celebrate 50 years in business

The recent Open Championship at St Andrews marked the 50th year in golf course architecture for Melbourne based firm Thomson Perrett.

Peter Thomson was a special guest of the R&A as he celebrated the 60th Anniversary of his 1955 win at the home of golf. Peter’s great mate, the late Kel Nagle, was also honoured with a tribute to him behind the 18th green acknowledging his passing and recalling his Centenary Open win at St Andrews in 1965. Other members of the Thomson Perrett team who attended The Open includedRoss and Helen Perrett, Tim Lobb, Warren Duncan, Bernie Hogan, Chen Wei Hua and Stuart Rennie.

In 1965 after his fifth Open victory Peter Thomson commenced his career in Golf Course Design when he joined with two Englishmen, Commander John Harris—a golf course architect—and Michael Wolveridge, a recently-retired golf professional. Initially the firm was called South Pacific Golf Pty Ltd, but soon became Harris Thomson and Wolveridge. Early projects included The Wairekei Golf Course in New Zealand, Royal Hong Kong Golf Club in Hong Kong, Bali Handara in Indonesia, Fujioka Country Club in Japan and the renovation of both The Delhi Golf Club and The Royal Calcutta Golf Clubs in India – the latter being the first course built in Asia (1829). In the 1960s and 1970s Thomson was pioneering the Asian Tour by playing across the Asia Pacific which helped the company expand. Wolveridge set up the Melbourne office whilst Harris concentrated on the European market from a London office.

In 1981 Wolveridge met a young Architect, Ross Perrett, who was completing a Mastersthesis on Golf Architecture at Melbourne University. But it wasn’t until 1987 that Perrett started consulting to Thomson Wolveridge. After a hectic few years servicing the Asian Golf boom, Perrett had earned his stripes and was invited to join the business, thus in 1990 the company named changed to Thomson Wolveridge and Perrett. When Wolveridge retired in 2004 the company became Thomson Perrett.

In 2005 Thomson Perrett and Lobb was established to service the European, Middle Eastern and African markets. Tim Lobb is a Melbourne-born golf course architect who has been working in Europe for 20 years. Thomson Perrett currently has offices in Melbourne, London, Shanghai and Hanoi. The company has achieved much over the journey, having completed over 250 projects in over 30 countries. Apart from Australia, the company has been a major contributor to the development of golf in the Asia Pacific Region, particularly in Japan, Indonesia, India, Thailand and China. The focus in recent years has shifted to the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and Vietnam.

When asked to name some career highlights, Perrett was typically enthusiastic, noting such accomplishments as: 1990s: designing and building the Dukes course in St Andrews, Scotland and the opportunity to live in St Andrews and to learn from The Old Course. Other highlights include completing courses in Indonesia including his favourite Mt Merapi (on the world’s most active volcano) built entirely by Indonesian village workers under the direction of Balinese golf legend Wayan Tunas; Designing The Capital Golf Club in Melbourne and Ayodya Links in Bangkok – both ultra-exclusive private courses; and completing over 20 courses in China on all types of sites including abandoned fish farms, rubbish tips and sites reclaimed from the sea. In the 2000s, Perrett’s highlights include working on courses like The National, Moonah Links and Sandhurst ; The Hamilton Island Golf Club – the first golf course ever built in a World Heritage Marine Park; and in 2012 – making the final of the RIO2016 Golf Design Competition.

Thomson Perrett show no signs of slowing down and enthusiastically embrace new markets and challenging sites. With new courses currently under construction in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, India, Nigeria and the UK, the team at Thomson Perrett look forward to a bright future.

(This article was published in the August 2015 edition of Inside Golf magazine)