SANDWICH — Lindsay White grew up as a self-described “military brat,” spending his youth all over the map, living at places for just a few years at a time. He began his adult life in Maine as a heavy equipment operator, and answered an advertisement at a country club in Parsonfield. That decision set him on the path that would lead him to create a golf course construction company that his family operates from their home in Sandwich, but which builds courses both nearby and as far away as the Caribbean.
White Construction is beginning work on a course in St. Lucia this month, the company’s second course on that island. White is also building a course on a private island in the Exuma chain of the Bahamas. And he has a recently feathered cap, after one of his projects finished in second place for the “Renovation of the Year” contest run by Golf Inc Magazine.
Building a golf course, he said, is more rewarding than constructing a strip mall or big box store.
“It’s art,” said White. “You can fly over it at 38,000 feet and see it.”
White’s honor in Golf Inc was for a renovation of Fox Hill Country Club of Exeter, Pennsylvania, on an early 20th Century course by renown designer A.W. Tillinghast. White worked on the renovation with Mungeam Cornish Golf Design.
Golf courses are living, changing things. Over the years, as a result of play and the weather, grass lines can move, sand traps can grow or shrink and slopes can change their pitch. The two companies used historic photographs to see Tillinghast’s original design, then got to work. The article describing the project said that fairways were widened, trees were removed and greens were expanded, making the course more playable and more recognizable as the work of Tillinghast.
Taking on such a project is akin to restoring a painting by a master artist, White said. Tillinghast, who died in 1942 at the age of 66, was one of the sports most influential designers and is in the Golf Hall of Fame.
“For me, I’ve been doing this since ‘86, for Golf Inc to notice a project of ours and vote it number two in the world is a pretty big feather in our cap,” he said.
The renovation side of the business has been critical for White Construction. When the economy depressed in the late 2000s, many private courses were trying to avoid bankruptcy, so no one was looking to build a new course. Renovations, however, were seen as a way for struggling courses to attract new members.
White’s company constructed Ridgewood Country Club in Moultonborough, and was involved in New Hampshire renovation projects such as Rochester Country Club, Abenaqui Country Club and Wentworth By The Sea.
The new construction market is reviving, though. It first returned in the Caribbean, which is where White Construction has been most active in recent years, though he said he would like to do more work nearby.
“I want to finish up in St. Lucia and the Bahamas, the industry is starting to come back here. I want to do a mix,” said White.
He is joined in the business by his wife, Patricia, and son Brandon, their youngest of five children.
Brandon was so drawn to the business that he switched to home schooling so he could start working at age 14. There’s one side effect, though. It’s ruined his golf game.
“I don’t really like to play golf,” he confessed. It’s something that he would only have time for on his day off, but all he can think of while he’s on the course is what could be improved. “Something doesn’t look right and you want to fix it.”