How To Build A Sustainable Golf Course (in 20 "simple" steps)

Dr. Michael Hurdzan's well-known textbook Golf Course Architecture: Design, Construction & Restoration was first published more than 20 years ago, in 1996. Using that text as our inspiration, we will be updating and explaining in greater detail the steps required to build a new and sustainable golf course. Many of these steps would also apply to the remodeling of an existing golf course. 

Our primary goal is to explain the (mostly) sequential process of golf course construction over 20 installments in a comprehensive and easy to understand language. Our secondary goal is to draw attention to sustainable construction practices to help ensure that the final product is as economically and environmentally sustainable as possible. Small thoughtful steps today can have a huge impact over the lifetime of a facility. This series of articles is intended to serve as a general guide for any developer, golf course owner, or greens committee that is unsure how the process of building a new golf course or improving an existing golf course actually works.

The first step for any developer, golf course owner, or greens committee should be to contact a qualified Golf Course Architect to discuss goals, priorities, and expectations. It may be necessary to speak with several Architects before finding the right fit of personality, availability, and cost. We, at Q Golf Design, are all current or former members of The European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) and is a wealth of information concerning this topic can be found on the EIGCA's website.

Our series of articles, How to Build a Sustainable Golf Course (in 20 "Simple" Steps), begins after a qualified Golf Course Architect has been engaged and he or she has completed steps 1 through 3 of the golf course Design Phase. At this point, concepts and Master Plans have been prepared and agreed upon and all construction documents have been produced to near, but not full, completion. The next few steps (where we'll begin) explain how and why the Architect and Ownership should start assembling a team of experts to ensure that all contingencies have been considered. The completed plans and specifications will then be put out to bid, a Contractor will be selected, and then construction begins...

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Preamble: What is Sustainability in the Context of Golf Course Construction?

The word “sustainability” gets thrown around a lot these days but, what does it mean in the context of golf course design and construction? Why is true, common sense sustainability such a worthy goal and how can it benefit multiple stakeholders?

 
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Step 1: The Importance of a Consulting Agronomist

Decisions made about materials prior to the initiation of construction will greatly impact the long-term quality and maintainability of the golf course. Much of the process of materials selection should ideally be in the hands of a qualified Consulting Agronomist, who will recommend and source specific grass species (that meet the design brief of the Architect and the Client) and who will then test on-site and off-site sources of sand, gravel, water, and topsoil to form an economical and sustainable growing medium for those grasses. 

A good Consulting Agronomist will help the Golf Course Designer in many ways so, how do you select the right person for the job? When in the design process should the Consulting Agronomist be hired? What are the potential conflicts to consider?

 
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Step 2: The Role of an Irrigation Design Consultant

Water is the most vital input for a golf course. An Irrigation Design Consultant can help the Golf Course Architect locate and quantify a reliable and sustainable source for water. This will go a long way toward determining the look of the golf course, its playing characteristics, and how it will be maintained.

To learn more about the role of the Irrigation Design Consultant, read on...

 

Q Golf Design is a collaborative group of friends who also happen to be qualified Golf Course Architects. We are also qualified and experienced as Civil Engineers, Vertical Architects, and Project Managers. We have the breadth of experience and knowledge to offer a full suite of golf course design and construction services, from first concept to opening day on your new or remodeled golf course.

We have all immersed ourselves in the origins of golf, on the linksland of Scotland where we first met. We are diverse culturally and geographically, residing in western Mexico, the northeastern United States, eastern China, and southern Spain, but also having lived and worked all over the world. We come from a variety of backgrounds, which gives us the ability to better understand the unique needs and desires of our clientele.  

Finally, we are supported by an experienced worldwide network of trusted agronomists, irrigation designers, landscape designers, contractors, and shapers, allowing us to offer a truly turn-key golf course design service.