"You're just lucky," I heard the guy say next to me as I was lacing up my shoes in the locker room after finishing up 18 holes just before dark with a couple of friends. "I may have gotten lucky with that slope on the 8th hole," said an older man who took a seat next to me on the bench, "but that tricky dog-leg on the 4th hole gets me every time." They both started to laugh and then continued to carry on about every detail on the 4th hole. The way the waterfall sounds if you land in the sand pit by the lilies or the way the owl swept up some kind of snake in the tall grass by the rocks. They even talked about what degree slope the putting green has if you land up by the cypress in the south east corner of the green. It never ceases to amaze me how much attention each golfer pays to the intricacies of each hole, my local course is no exception. I am sure that inside busy clubhouses across the world enthusiastic golfers talk about the challenges at each hole and how they will play it different next time. They make plans to play again and then go on bragging about their game in the office.
For many of us golfers, we are only as good as our last game. However the experience we get from playing 18 holes goes far beyond how we actually played the game that day. The way a green will gently slope past a natural hazard on the 3rd whole, or the way the sun reflects of off the birch tree's on the 18th hole naturally draws us back to our favorite course whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Creating that mesmerizing experience for golfers takes place long before any of us ever will ever step up to the tee on the 1st whole.
When it comes to the design and the construction of a new golf course, or remodeling an existing layout, the process can be daunting. The building of a golf course encompasses many different operations. It takes a team of qualified experts that understand the market analysis, site selection, cost estimation, permitting, master planning, detailed design, landscape architecture, construction and grow-in.
It is important for golf course builders to work with an experienced golf course architect that has the specialized experience and the skills required to overcome the many obstacles that it takes to turn a concept into a reality. Each golf course architect should have vast knowledge of the game of golf, its history, players and design strategy. They should also have expertise in finance and permitting as well as familiarity with heavy construction projects, hydraulic engineering, geology and civil engineering. Having an understanding of landscape architecture is also very important for creating a golf course plan that will highlight and preserve the natural environment. Carefully carved hills into valleys incorporating streams, cascading waterfalls and rock-work as a natural hazard all help create and preserve a natural environment for golfers to enjoy.
It takes a team of highly skilled artisans and designers to create realistic environments with an accurate sense of the natural randomness of nature. With precise planning and attention to every ecological detail, realistic lakes, streams and waterfalls can create a sustainable environment for vegetation and wildlife for years to come. This combined with unique creativity, engineering skills and use of natural and artificial materials is what fascinates golfers and beckons them back again and again. Whether it is the award winning water features at the Naples Grand Country Club in Naples Florida or the 90ft wide by 45ft tall waterfall that creates a striking backdrop at Haesley Nine Bridges in Seoul Korea, each feature was brought to life with a qualified team of golf course designers, architects, engineers and builders. Creating the experience takes strategic planning, countless hours of design, sheet drawings, renderings and 3D scale models to visualize and stage the project long before the construction even starts. Coordination with the golf course architects, and working with varied terrain characteristics, as well as planning and executing the actual construction phases are all imperative to creating a natural environment.
Next time you see a deer run across the fairway on the 9th hole, or an alligator basking in the sun on the banks 50ft from where you chipped your last shot, take a minute to tip your hat to all the people who took the time to make it possible.