Like Perry Maxwell who began his career working with golf course designers such as Alister Mackenzie, Jim Urbina began his education in golf design working with legendary golf course designer Pete Dye. Jim did not have any preconceived notions of what a good golf course should look like nor did he have a golf game that formed a design philosophy that he must adhere to. He learned from the ground up. Walking with Pete listening to what was important to him, sometimes kneeling down in the dirt with Pete so he could shape with his hands what he wanted the feature to look like. Pete Dye would look on as Jim would shape a green or sometimes even climbing on a tractor to show Jim what he wanted. When Pete knew Jim didn’t understand a concept he would send him packing on a plane to look at a golf hole he was trying to emulate. Today, Jim is still spending considerable time looking at golf courses gathering ideas and formulating plans.
Jim went on to work for Pete and his son Perry on many of their designs in the Asian rim during the Japanese golf boom. He quickly was put to work assisting with the large grading maps for many of the golf courses being built in the late 80’s. Jim has a degree from University of Northern Colorado in Education. He taught high school drafting prior to golf; it’s that ability to visualize in three dimensions and his knowledge of topographical mapping that helped his learning process.
During the tenure with the Dye family he met Tom Doak. Jim would later leave the Dyes and for the next 17 years he would create and build golf courses with Tom Doak. Always in the same fashion he first learned with Pete Dye, using the model of design/build. Jim went on to build many golf courses using in-house crews, including Apache Stronghold, Pacific Dunes, Sebonack and Old Macdonald.
Now that Jim has been on his own for six years, he continues that close working relationship with many talented shapers and construction crews that he has worked with over many years. The foundation he first learned from Pete Dye has served Jim well in his many years in the golf business. "A talented team is the foundation for every great golf course built in the last 100 years." Studying great golf courses like St. Andrews, Cypress Point, Prairie Dunes, the National Golf Links and Pinehurst #2 helped build a foundation for the future. From the very first days in the field crafting and shaping ideas to co-designing Old Macdonald, the foundation has always stayed the same. Being on the ground "in the field willing to try new ideas"; he trys to use local labor crews when possible and recently created the new Punchbowl Green at the Bandon Dunes Resort relying on the Pacific Dunes maintenance crew to complete all of the construction work.