Rick Robbins, credited with the redesign of Colonial Charters Golf Club, is based out of Cary, North Carolina. He is a rising star in the golf industry, with projects extending from the Carolinas to China. “Though new courses have been curtailed in the States, the sport is thriving in China and courses are sprouting up everywhere,” Robbins says.
Known for designing environmentally friendly golf courses, he has designed some 30 courses around the world under his own name, and dozens more while working with other firms. In 2013 he served as president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), joining a select list of architects who have led the organization, including Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones, and Pete Dye.
Robbins advocates design that leaves areas in their natural state as much as possible by fitting the course to the terrain. Environmentalists appreciate his efforts to limit the footprint of his courses and to work within the local eco-system.
He also believes in creating lower maintenance courses; he selects turf grasses that are best suited to the climate of each site and require the least amount of chemicals. Keeping courses affordable is also a value for Robbins. He complains about the “demand for courses that are too long, too difficult, and require high maintenance.”
A Boone, North Carolina native, Robbins comes by golf course designing naturally. His parents were in the resort development business in the North Carolina mountains, and during the 1960s, when he was a teenager in Southern Pines, N.C., his father, Spencer Robbins, managed one of the top golf courses in the world, the Donald Ross-designed Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club. Robbins was also on the scene when his father and two uncles, Grover and Harry, designed and built several courses.
Already hooked on golf design, Robbins graduated from North Carolina State University’s School of Design in 1973. For the next 13 years, he worked at the firm of Robert von Hagge and Bruce Devlin and gained much valuable experience. In 1986, he was recruited to work at Jack Nicklaus’s firm, Nicklaus/Sierra Development Corp. There he developed many golf course communities. Later, he became a senior design associate with Nicklaus’ Golden Bear Design, and served in the firm’s Hong Kong office.
In 1991, Robbins returned home to his roots and started Robbins and Associates International. He credits Jack Nicklaus with much of his success and has benefited from the contacts he made while working in the Far East.
Robbins loves his job, appreciates the challenge to his creativity – and loves hearing players say they enjoyed playing one of his courses.