As a teenager, golf course architect Mike Gorman was already captivated by the unique qualities he noticed in fairways and greens on golf courses located in different regions of the US. Wherever the Gorman family traveled on vacation— whether close to their home in Sacramento, Calif., or across the country— a side trip to see a famous golf course was nearly always included in the itinerary.
“I tried to drag my parents to golf courses everywhere, from Pebble Beach to Pinehurst,” recalls Gorman, who joined Robert Trent Jones II (RTJ II) in 2001. “As soon as I found out where we were going, I would see how many golf courses I could visit.”
Gorman’s passion for the game started even earlier, as a youngster tagging along with his father to the golf course. He picked up the sport quickly, and by age 10 was a competitive junior golfer. One of the public courses he played regularly was Haggin Oaks, an Alister MacKenzie design known for its classic styling.
Possessing a talent for drawing, Gorman was able to take the images he saw on various golf courses and interpret them in his own sketches. “I would think about it on the golf course and as soon as I was finished playing, I would sit down and sketch things out,” Gorman says. “I didn’t know at first exactly what I was going to do with it, but I always knew my goal was to be involved with golf.”
His path became clearer after high school, where he was a solid player on the golf team. Gorman headed to Arizona State University to explore its Landscape Architecture program. He flirted with playing for the Sun Devils in college as a walk on, but was unable to make the cut. He did, however, ace his chosen field, earning a degree in 1998.
After two years of handling large-scale master planning for a landscape architecture firm in San Diego, Gorman decided to pursue his goal of working in the golf industry, and was fortunate to find an opening at RTJ II. “I already had some golf sketches in my portfolio, which showed how passionate I was about the game,” he relates.
Fueled by that passion, he now works on golf course projects for RTJ II around the globe. "It's great to meet people from all walks of life and contribute to their environment," Gorman says. He currently lives in Mountain View, California. When not on the golf course, he can be found in RTJ II’s Palo Alto headquarters, drawing.