This is the main target of any design. To build a course that will suit both commercial golf and high level competition. It is necessary to specify what is understood by each concept.
For amateur players
Such design is intended to allow amateurs to enjoy the game. Being the most frequent handicappers between 15 and 24 in the case of men and 18 and 30 in case of ladies it will make the most of their visit to the Club.
What should be done to make the most enjoyable golf day for these players?
Some features are very important but remain beyond the designer’s competence. We refer to the weather. A day in the open air, in good weather is a pleasure for anyone. Otherwise, it can be referred to as a punishment.
Landscape takes its role in the outcome. A part of it depends on the location of the site. Anyone can imagine idyllic landscapes to locate a golf course either because one has admired them, seen them on TV or simply imagined them. An unattractive golf course is also easily to imagine (industrial surrounds, condominion both side holes, etc.) From either of the situations mentioned the designer has to fulfill its duties and will be liable for increasing the potential of the land or turning it into a welcoming place.
Now, it is the time to comment some other aspects of the design which are the sole and complete responsibility of the designer in the quest of the intended purpose.
Thus, for example, variety. It is about creating a collection of holes different among them as much as possible either for their location within the scenery, their orientation, their difficulty or their particularities: bunkers, water hazards, slopes, vegetation, etc. When the course is unattractive it will produce boredom on the player with the feeling that not even a birdie would change his opinion about the lack of excitement.
Difficulty is obviously a very important aspect. Nevertheless, we need to clarify on this point. If this is not done then we would conclude that the aim is to create a hole that would be easier than the last one to avail “enjoyment” to the player. The final result need not be graded.
On the opposite, we can speak about versatility. The aim is to achieve a collection of holes which would meet the following description: easy, standard and difficult. The beginner does not need to beat up his best score nor reduce his handicap when he plays a course for the first time. The player is happy enough to score a birdie and some pars take benefit of his handicap on some particular holes. From experience, the player knows that double and triple bogeys are much more frequent than desired. Due to this reason most of them don´t prefer play the medal play format. In other words: they like stableford, syndicate, best ball, etc.
The designer uses the recourse of creating different tees in each hole. Whereas making a hole of tremendous difficulty for a professional or making a suitable hole for an inexperienced player. Let’s take for example a par 3 of approx. 200 m. from the pros tee with a well defended green by any type of hazard though with a free entry with no front hazards from about 125 m. far from the ladies commercial tee. From this point any shot even a so-called “topped” ball would fly across the distance to land on the green. Two putts later and taking into account his advantage shot the player will score a birdie on his card.
We use to design 6 par 3 three together with 6 par four and 6 par five. The situation described can easily arise.
Concerning the above we find the role of the designer essential at the time of the hazard placement. The difficulty of a hole is not only measured by its length but because other factors intervene. Before delivering our designs there are 100 factors per hole we analyze. Herein, we are going to describe the role of the hazards.
It is frequent to find holes for example full of bunkers to give a touch of color. Imagine at 100 m. from the amateur tee we find a bunker with a respectable depth. What does it mean? Simply that after a disastrous start, the player will have a pleasant surprise to watch his ball at a point from which two or three shots are needed to place the ball out of the hazard. Thereon, he will try the relatively short par 4 green. After giving it a try with a simple 7 iron he clearly misses the shot and remains 20 meters from green. When playing his fifth shot he is surprised to find out that the designer has placed a beautiful lake. In other words, in a place where the worst mistake to a good player would never land the second shot because missing the green would just be by 4 or 5 m. at the most. Thus, the designer feels his obligation to offer us some artistic creativity. Hence, our high handicap would sign a 10 score at one of the easiest holes of the course.
Something similar will happened with the treatment given by the designers to the shaping of the course. There is much talk about natural courses but only those who meet the standards of naturalism and minimalism produce courses perfectly integrated into the environment. Others, those fond of the creativity excesses get lost in the dunes, moldings that look like pyramids and other type of aberrations that are far from being samples of golf architecture but instead “architortures”. Indeed the game on the course suffers increasingly the loss of balls, play time and maintenance cost of the course.
Nevertheless it is interesting to note that a significant number of beginners who either due to a real lack of knowledge of the game or due to snobbery are quite impressed and gladly pay a green fee which is higher than the standard price of other courses.
This is finally another factor which is important in achieving the customer’s satisfaction, and the ratio quality / price. A good design not only creates a quality golf course which meets all the aspects aforementioned but also guarantees a feasible maintenance consistent with a fitted construction budget which will make possible the subsequent operating income with an attractive price policy to new comers.
These are some aspects a golf course must present in order to be considered as truly commercial. One should note that to reach said standard we should not limit ourselves to the label of “easy but enjoyable course” and many other similar ones which are widely used.
HIGH COMPETITION GOLF
Quality and selectivity
The same type of course as describe above and labeled as commercial can host tournaments of the highest level.
The reason is easily understood and it meets the main requirements of quality. It is about presenting a player with a variety of challenges. It is intended that those who play better will have more chances of winning.
By playing better it is understood that we will have a complete game: short game, power, strategy, recovery capacity, handling of the ball, self-assertion, variety of recourses, etc.
The opposite can be clarifying. A course where it would be irrelevant to play the driver, the 3 wood or an iron to hit the starting shot because the difference when hitting the second shot would only depend on the distance, meaning more than an 8 iron for the shortest shot from the tee or a blaster in the opposite case. In the end, all is limited to a putt contest. The most skillful player with the putt will win but should not have the monopoly in any case. In other words, the final scores in that “pitch and putt courses” where professional competitions take place, are over 20 under par. Hence to remedy such shameful situation the organizers can only protect the course with a lot of rough in any place other than the fairway thus the opportunity of offering an exciting show is completely eliminated.
This is a sad situation which arises when a high – level professional plays one of these “enjoyable” courses. Arguably it might happen once every many years if in fact it does occur, it´s not enough. Nowadays the trend is to demand, with even greater intensity, competitiveness. Hence in the battle to attract potential customers, only those courses versatile enough to house commercial and competitive golf, will succeed.
To accomplish these requirements above mentionated should be the main target of the certification services companieshaving been recently implemented in the world of golf striving to become a niche. Whereas, this is essential for a golf course to be credited as such.