How best to design a golf course

Golfers prefer well-maintained courses charging reasonable green fees

Playing golf is a wonderful experience best understood by the fraternity of players who have enjoyed it for many years.

In the past, most of them would play an 18-hole course and scout for the best one in their area .

Times have changed. Today, people have less time; the layout of the courses have changed accordingly.

Moreover, there are ‘beginners’ who would like to play in a course convenient to them.

They have less time and money to devote to their new hobby and this defines their view of the type of courses they would like to play on.

Three goals

So how to design a golf course that suits the most in the community? Most golfers are interested in courses that are well maintained (specifically the greens), have reasonable green fees, and aren’t plagued by slow play.

That is a tall order to fill, but accomplishing the three goals can help a course attract most people in the community. Moreover, there are other things that need to be looked at to make any golf course attractive, not only to beginners but to regulars as well, and every type of golfer in between.

Complements nature

Every golf course should be designed to fit in with the site’s natural features. This can be the distinguishing feature separating it from other local courses.

The golf course with fewer holes that fits in well with the land, by preserving the natural features, may be more attractive than one that obliterates the land’s natural features while trying to meet the “rule” of 18 holes. Moreover, the trend is changing now; there are 6/9/12 hole executive golf courses that are cropping up all over the world.

What if the land is featureless? This is a delicate subject because a land deemed featureless has in fact been proven to have many wonderful and subtle features worth incorporating into the design of the course.

For the golfers, fewer holes means lesser time and less money to play the game.

These benefits can be attractive to many golfers. But in many communities, the most successful golf courses are those that are provided with interesting natural features.

One-for-all

Moreover, shorter courses help the better player fine-tune the game; shorter courses can be less intimidating to the beginner; and those with variety, like a hole or two that can play as a par 3 at one time and a par 4 the next time, and holes that captivate and challenge golfers can be the most attractive alternative in many communities. For the developers, fewer holes means lower construction and maintenance costs.

For communities, that means less of an impact on local natural resources.

Within reach

The position of the golf course within the community must also be factored in. It should be integrated within the boundaries of a community and within walking distance of many of its residents.

Less important are the number of holes and the length of the course; more important is a golf course that locals support and, in a sense, take ‘ownership’.

The writer is a golf course architect and founder of AV Golf International

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