Designing a golf course is a job that requires plenty of expert knowledge of the sport and of architecture. You also need to have a flair for creativity to ensure that the finished course is one-of-a-kind and provides the right level of difficulty to the players.
The architect needs to consider the course as a whole, as well as breaking it down into the individual holes. There must be a flow to the way the holes follow on from each other, but no two holes should be the same or even too similar.
The Three Areas of a Playing Hole
This is the starting point for each hole. It’s a flat area with the grass cut short. Players will drive off the tee, meaning they need space around them, and they need to be able to see where they’re aiming for.
The fairway is the longest stretch of the hole. The straighter and flatter the fairway, the easier the hole is. Once you start adding in curves or hills, you start to make it harder to hit a hole in one.
The actual hole that the ball needs to end up in is on the green. The grass here is also kept short to allow for putting.
Obstacles and Hazards
To add interest and challenge to a golf course, the architect needs to include obstacles and hazards for the players to maneuver through and around.
This is the area that lies around the tee, fairway and green. The grass here is longer, making it far more difficult to hit the ball if it falls here.
Sand traps are often placed strategically around the green of a hole, as well as sometimes along the fairways for an extra challenge. These traps can be made even harder if they have deep edges or the green is sloped down to the trap.
Ponds and rivers are always part of a golf course. If the land has natural ones occurring, it’s good for the architect to use them to help inform the design and flow of the course.
Other Areas of Consideration for the Architect
A golf course isn’t just about the holes and the area of play. The grounds need to be considered and designed by the architect to ensure a great flow to the entire course.
The Walkways and Golf Cart Roads
Getting around the golf course needs to be a priority. You don’t want carts and pedestrians to be wandering through a fairway when people are playing.
If the course is going to be used for tournaments, the architect needs to consider the spectators. You wouldn’t expect something like US PGA betting to take place on a course if the spectators can’t see the action.
Bringing the Whole Golf Course Together Through Architecture
Designing a golf course is a great challenge for any architect. It’s about so much more than one building or grounds that look good.