Golf course design common questions answered
Golf course construction, design and consultancy, here are some frequently asked questions.
How much does it cost to build an 18 hole golf course?
This can range greatly depending on the location of the course, the soil types, specification, and the amount of drainage and irrigation required, but in northern Europe it would range from around £2-£5 million (or €3-€7 million) and in southern Europe, where irrigation and grass establishment will be more expensive, from €5-€8 million.
How long does it take to design a golf course?
It normally takes at least a year to complete the full design of a golf course but there are a number of stages involved as follows:
a) Initial layout design/masterplanning – the initial layout design is normally completed in a week or two but may need to be refined following consultation with the client, the local planning authority and other consultants over a period of a few months.
b) Once the layout design has been finalised the next stage are the drawings required for the planning permits and licences which will take several months to develop in tandem with the design of other elements of the project. These will include Site Clearance, Earthworks, Drainage and Water Management plans, Tree Planting Plans, Cross Sections, Computer Simulations, and Details Drawings for constructed elements such as paths, lakes, bridges, walls and other features.
c) Once the plans are submitted it will take at least 6 months to receive planning permission and in some countries several years to achieve.
d) Once planning permission has been obtained there Detailed Drawings, Specification, Bills of Quantities and Contract documents can be drawn up and these normally take 3-6 months to complete depending on the complexity of the project and how much detail is provided with the planning drawings.
e) After a 4 week tender period, where contractors are invited to price the work, the successful golf course contractor is appointed and work can start on site a month or two after that. Normally a golf course will take 6-12 months to build and 12-18 months for the grass to establish before it can be opened for play.
What land area do you need to build a 18 hole golf course?
An 18-hole golf course will need around 120-180 acres (or 50-75 hectares) to build depending on the length of course and practice facilities that are required and how much of the land is usable.
The great thing about golf as a sport is the fact that some kind of golf facility can be accommodated on almost any size of site, from a fun Putting Course for families to enjoy, which can be built on just 0.5 acre (0.2 hectare), to a Driving Range or 9-hole Pitch & Putt Course on 12 acres of land (5 hectares), and a 9-hole Executive Course (mainly par 3’s and 4’s) requiring around 40-50 acres (16-20 hectares).
Why do golf courses change hole locations?
Golf courses change the hole locations on the greens both to spread wear from golfers’ feet and to offer a different challenge on each day. Tougher pin positions, with holes cut closer to the edge of the green and adjacent hazards, such as bunkers and ponds, can be used for tournament play and more central pins for general play.
Greens are best designed to offer a large range of varied pin positions, sometimes on more than one level, so that the golfer is faced with a different challenge almost every time he/she plays the course. The pin positions should be arranged so that there is a good mix of difficulty with ideally 6 easy, 6 medium and 6 tough pin positions. A green which is angled slightly in relation to the normal line of play will offer a reward to a golfer who can find a certain line of the tee, often guarded by bunkers, which adds an interesting playing strategy to the hole.
How much does it cost to make a golf green?
A golf green, including the surrounding banks and bunkers, will cost in the region of £30-60K (or €40-€80K) depending on the specification used and the size of the green. The USGA Green Section Recommendations for Putting Green Construction is normally followed unless the site is on sandy soils.
How do you maintain a golf green?
The green requires intensive maintenance including:
- Regular mowing – normally at least 3 times a week and often daily in the growing season – using either hand mowers or ride-on triplex mowers.
- Verticutting to remove thatch and stimulate deep root development
- Regular topdressing with sand to maintain smooth levels, help with thatch decomposition and improve the firmness of the green surface
- Hollow-tining and spiking when necessary to relieve compaction and improve aeration and rooting
- Fertiliser applications as required
- Limited and careful use of fungicides and pesticides when required to treat pests and diseases
Golf course design standards and what’s required.
There are a few accepted industry standards for the design of golf courses including:
Safety – EIGCA Indicative Working Design Criteria for the Laying Out of Golf Courses (only available for EIGCA members to use) and Golf Course Design Safety Guidelines – July 2008 published by PGA Design Consulting Ltd
Green Construction – USGA Green Section Recommendations for Putting Green Construction
Bunker Sand – Preferred Particle Size Distribution for Bunker Sand produced by Sports Turf Research Institute.
What is EIGCA “European Institute of Golf Course Architects” ?
As the EIGCA website states: “The European Institute of Golf Course Architects represents Europe’s most qualified golf course architects. Members of the EIGCA have shown through their skill, experience and training that they are able to design and oversee the construction of golf courses to the highest standards.”
Ken Moodie, Director of CGD, is a Member and Past President of this organisation and has served on the Board and numerous committees over the years. He also helped to set up and run the Institute’s education programme for many years in a part-time capacity and received the President’s Award for Services to the EIGCA as a result.