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Ochoa/Hills Golf Design Firm Formed for Mexican Projects
Alejandro Ochoa and the partners at Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates have formed a collaborative course architecture firm, Ochoa/Hills Golf Design, which will design golf projects primarily in Mexico beginning immediately.
Ochoa, the elder brother of world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, is a principal in the Guadalajara-based Ochoa Group (www.osports.com.mx), one of the country’s leading player representation, golf academy and event management firms. As a partner in Ochoa/Hills Golf Design, he will serve as chief business development officer, working with Gary Hart, director of Pacific and Western U.S. regions for Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates (AHSF). Ochoa will also dive headfirst into course design itself, a developing passion of the 31-year-old MBA, mountain-climber and sports executive.
"The Mexican market is booming and Arthur Hills has one of the most respected bodies of work in all of course architecture. Naturally, we see great potential for Ochoa/Hills Golf Design here in Mexico," Ochoa said. "While the Mexican market is ripe for first-class design services, I want to do more than secure development deals for our partnership. I want to learn course architecture from a master - in the way one learns a craft or fine art, so that we might create great golf courses, together. Arthur Hills and Steve Forrest have afforded me this opportunity, in a partnership that also brings to bear my knowledge of the Mexican resort development market."
Toledo, Ohio-based AHSF (www.arthurhills.com) is one of the most active course-design firms in golf, with a portfolio including some 200 original designs and 130 renovations on four continents. In addition to projects in the U.S., AHSF has flourished abroad with design projects underway in Sweden, Portugal, Norway, Morocco, Russia, Belize, Costa Rica, Canada, the Caribbean and, of course, Mexico, where the firm already has three projects in various stages of development.
"The synergies involved in this partnership are quite extraordinary. Each party already brings so much to the table - in Mexico specifically - that our formal collaboration struck each of us as an ideal fit," said Hills, partner and principal in Toledo, Ohio-based AHSF. "Mexico is one of golf's bonafide development hot spots. Our firm already has two projects there on the Baja Peninsula - Paraiso del Mar in La Paz, Punta Lobos in Todos Santos - and a third we're poised to announce. The formation of this new company with Alejandro will surely build upon this formidable foundation, while leveraging the Ochoa brand in Mexico."
Ochoa brings a singular skill set to Ochoa/Hills Golf Design, which was formally incorporated, in Mexico, in early June. He graduated with a degree in vertical architecture from Guadalajara's ITESO University, then spent two years working for the firm of Gomez Vasquez Aldana and Associates. He would subsequently earn his MBA from IPADE Business School in Mexico City, one of the world's top business schools, before forming The Ochoa Group, which includes:
• Ochoa Golf Academies, with sites in Guadalajara, Morelia, Chapala and new facilities opening this year in Acapulco, Los Cabos, San Luis Potosí and Monterrey.
• Ochoa Sports Management, operating two LPGA events in Mexico - the LPGA Corona Championship and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by Banamex and Corona - in addition to more than 15 corporate tournaments.
• Ochoa Sports, representing world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa, future Mexican star Sophia Sheridan, and Rafael Alarcón, former PGA player and noted swing coach.
In addition to his business activities, Alejandro has also found time to develop world-class mountain- and rock-climbing skills, scaling several of the world's highest peaks before he turned 30. Indeed, the day he reached the summit of Mt. Everest, sister Lorena won her first LPGA event - a serendipity he calls "a nice coincidence."
Ochoa also cites as valuable experience the year he spent caddying for his sister on Tour, alongside the design and construction of his first solo design, the nine-hole real estate course at Ayamonte - scheduled to open in Guadalajara this summer.
"It was very useful to me, the caddie experience, because while I had played a lot of golf, this experience introduced me to a range of different golf courses all over the world," he explained. "Scouting a course in advance, navigating the course during tournament play - you get know every corner of the layout. This gave me a unique understanding of how a golf course is structured. This helped me at Ayamonte, of course, and it will help me going forward. However, I am realistic. Hills/Forrest has so much experience and I am just starting. They have such a great reputation in golf course design. Ochoa is a very big name in Mexican golf. This is why our partnership makes a good combination, a very interesting mix of talents."
The partnership of Alejandro Ochoa with Arthur Hills/Steve Forrest and Associates is indicative of more than AHSF's international approach. It reemphasizes the firm's brand, whereby each partner brings his own design sensibility to a project, along with those of founder Arthur Hills.
Partner Brian Yoder has spearheaded the firm's three Mexican projects, in addition to highly ranked, well known North American designs like Bay Harbor GC in northern Michigan, Longaberger GC in Ohio, and El Conquistador in Puerto Rico.
"Our team approach has served our clients well," Hills explained. "The sharing of design responsibility has diversified and invigorated our work, our brand, if you will. The addition of Alejandro to this team is consistent with this approach. It will further enhance our designs, to the benefit of our clients."