e-book The Golf Course: Planning, design, construction and management

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Sir Nick Faldo and his team have an immense appreciation of the natural environment. The golf projects we design form a significant part of their environment. However, to ensure their long-term success, a vital part of what we do is identifying a sustainable balance — commercially and socially, as well as environmentally. We spend many days creating multiple options to review with the client.

Knowing there is only one chance to build a course that should last a lifetime, we understand the importance of getting this part of the process correct. This is the heart of the remodeling design process. This Master Plan tool, if correctly created and utilized, will ensure that all investments made toward to the golf course asset will have the most value.

We will define a scope of work needed, and are able to work on an hourly basis. We would manage the necessary parties needed to complete the construction and visit the project site approximately once per week. I have tried to expand the subject into specific sections which may be of wider use to those thousands of golfers who every year, after peacefully and anonymously enjoying their golf in the rank and file of members, allow themselves to be elected to the Green Committee. There are not many guide books to help them find their way through these byways of golf although there are almost too many advising them how to play it.

In Scotland, their leader will be called Green Convener— a neater, more musical term than Chairman of the Green Committee. We have perhaps been backward in British greenkeeping in providing the intensive training, the degree courses and 2 THE GOLF COURSE research which have produced so many talented golf course superintendents in the United States and elsewhere; but there has been an immense fund of solid experience handed down from which the profession in the British Isles has moved steadily forward.

We cannot thank them enough. They are all welcome. The election of the Green Convener will reflect personal qualities, whether they be leadership,. Often it is a stepping stone to subsequent captaincy. Sometimes it derives from his principal occupation: a farmer will be expected to know about turf— an engineer, about machinery. I am not one who believes that the chairman of a specialist committee should necessarily be an expert on the subjects under review. An incisive, analytical mind will soon draw out, compare and balance the opinions of the experts assembled. But where the members of a committee are themselves equally new and unversed in the matters requiring decision, it seems to be desirable that its chairman should have some background knowledge to enable him to guide the discussion; and this will be still more fruitful if his committee has done some homework as well.

This book is intended to help them with those tasks, but it ranges wider than the immediate problems they will have to decide. There will be no discussion of golf greenkeeping except in so far as it is affected by architectural and constructional decisions. There are useful books and periodicals on maintenance see Bibliography and a great deal of research is in progress.

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Nevertheless, head greenkeepers may find this book of interest in broadening the horizons against which they measure their daily tasks and help them to prepare the ground for the fruits of that research. Similarly, the golf club professional, being generally the best player in the club, will often be the testing ground for new ideas about the golf course. The Professional Golfers Association runs instructional courses which very sensibly instruct young professionals in far more aspects of golf club activities than the bare essentials of golf shop, repairs and tuition.

Lastly, the man in the front line, the secretary or manager can never have enough bricks to build his defences against those with a modest taste for improvements or to throw at those with ideas more extravagant. For this reason, he will find quoted a variety of aphorisms from the past as well as the asseverations of the present, in case the latter fail to be convincing. I have tried, however, to avoid excursions into the history of the game as such, its development abroad, and the influence of Scots like Donald Ross, who translated the essence of Dornoch golf into so many North American layouts.

The history has been written many times before and there is little to add that is new. The threads of golf course architecture which run through it have been unravelled and lavishly rewoven by my friend, Geoffrey Cornish, and Ronald E. As in other fields, one is frequently puzzled by their abdication from the peace and freedom of ordinary membership.

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The principal headings in the text broadly describe the material grouped under them. But there are many interrelated factors where planning affects design, or design affects construction, or construction affects both of the others, and such combinations are taken as seems appropriate. If occasionally and one hopes it is only occasionally , the advice seems unduly portentous for the subject matter, let it always be remembered that, in the words of P. This was really in the 15th Century, but for some reason time travels faster than dates.

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Presumably, through that ability, they recognized what gave pleasure, interest, excitement, boredom, irritation, or fatigue and steered a way through the problems of building the course with an eye firmly fixed on the eventual golfer. He is still the final judge. But they were soon preaching the virtues of variety, avoidance of formality and the imitation of Nature, which had inspired landscape designers of more than a century before. What they wrote has been rewritten again and again in differing forms but we have not added much new. Construction techniques, however, especially earthmoving, have advanced to the point where, if necessary, sites formerly considered unsuitable, like rubbish tips, can be landscaped, planted, and transformed into things of beauty—at a cost.

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This one is standing in front of the Gleneagles Hotel. The horses normally wore leather boots to reduce surface damage.


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Courtesy of Ransomes Sims Jefferies plc. This approach was essential to all the earliest architects. Before horses and scoops were called in, all insisted that their first duty was to employ fully all the natural features of the site. There are still important issues which endanger that attitude, not the least alarming being that the extravagant transformation of sites, which is possible where related development will foot the bill can become the expected norm elsewhere.

Plans for new projects will then price themselves out of the market. We have to reverse fashion by getting back to the simplicity and subtlety of the site itself. There has indeed been a steady progress away from blind holes as they all correctly forecast, but two views about rough were current then and, theoretically, still are today. How short the short hole?

How long the par 5? Is a tree a fair hazard? Is a visible bunker fair even in the middle of the fairway at the end of a good drive?

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All these questions survive—thank goodness! We have reached a stage now where modern cultivated turf is thought inferior to the old natural cover being botanically less desirable and less hard-wearing. On the other hand, the degree of use in earlier times never really confirmed the durability of the natural cover or its ability to recover quickly.

Many links courses today are sadly worn even in the carry rough. The Green Committee must face up to this dilemma at local level in order to preserve the course and the peace. It is not a new one as a backward glance will show. The practice of golf course architecture might be thought to have begun in when the St Andrews golfers decided to reduce their course from 11 holes to 9, that is to say from 22 to 18, out and home.

The change may have been made for practical reasons or to produce two longer holes of yards more in line with the average length which was They must have been woefully short as opening and climax to the circuit. The number has a certain mysterious significance in many games, indoors and out.

The influence of the precedent course at Leith, however, continued well into the 19th Century and, when it was extended from five to seven holes in , Blackheath did the same Fig. The original five hole course avoided all the quarries on the heath because they were still being worked. On the new course every hole played over a quarry except no.

The engraving Medal Day at Blackheath shows quarry, traffic and passers-by beyond the well-dressed players standing on the tee. Oddly enough, this series of lengths breaks several of the rules which later planners consider should form the ideal pattern.

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More oddly still, it is often where the rules are broken that a golf course becomes notable. Perhaps those pioneers knew what amused the public better than their successors. At the start it was certainly rough. Now we may be in danger of it becoming too smooth. The second half of the 19th Century saw a mighty expansion in golf courses, but not in designers. To try to assess prevailing attitudes we can only turn to The Golfing Annual which started in with pages and grew to pages by , even with entries much condensed.

It would be convenient for the historian if the overriding emphasis on hazards in most early entries evaporated as the years went by. But mood and attitudes change slowly and at different rates in different circumstances. There were die-hards who scorned this weakness and revelled in descriptions of dreadful hazards. But I suspect that the worse the condition of the course, the more the virtues of its hazards were extolled. Indeed, from the beginning, some of the older Scottish courses are already talking about playing conditions rather than playing adventures, even when match-play was the rule.

The italics are mine; the dates are those of foundation.

The soil-is of a very light sandy nature, with the exception of some of the low lying holes.