The information below is general in nature and is only meant as a guideline for the development or renovation of a golf course. Each project, site, region, market is different and should be evaluated independently by a qualified golf course architect in order to determine if these guidelines apply in whole or in part to your project situation. HGD is not responsible for the use or misuse of this information by third parties in their development process.
- Who uses a Golf Course Architect?
- Why you should use a Golf Course Architect?
- How to choose a golf course architect?
- How long does it take to build a golf course?
- How much does it cost to build a new 18 hole golf course?
- How much land does it take to build an 18 hole golf course?
- How much does it cost to build a new golf green?
- How much does it cost to build a new golf tee?
- What are the most common mistakes golf clubs make while carrying out renovations?
- What are some of the most critical factors to building a great golf course?
How many self-designed and built golf courses do we see in the marketplace struggling to breakeven at the lowest end of the price scale because they weren’t designed by a qualified golf course architect? These courses are usually narrow, unsafe, uninspiring to play and often have poor drainage, poor soils, poor quality turfgrass for all but perhaps 1 or 2 months a year.
These courses have limited options if they don’t renovate.
Don’t be one of these courses.
Typically a golf course architect is used by anyone that needs to design and/or build in whole or in part a golf course or renovate an existing golf course; such as, Golf clubs, owners, developers, engineers, architects, golf superintendents, golf professionals, municipalities, governments, private residences etc…
- In order to get professionally designed high quality plans and experienced site implementation to ensure a superior final result that will likely be used for more than 30 or 40 years.
- In order to bring credibility and a marquee brand to a club or development.
- In order to get the best product on time at the best price/quality ratio.
- In order to ensure a visually powerful final product that is challenging but enjoyable to play.
- In order to ensure proper construction methods that will promote high quality turf grass (soils, drainage, irrigation, grassing etc..).
- In order to bring credibility to a project to help promote the development and attract financing.
- In order to improve the profile of a club to attract new members.
- In order to ensure that proper safety margins are maintained to reduce the likelihood of court action against a club or developer.
- In order to insulate employees; such as, superintendents, professionals, managers, greens chairmans from blame due to an unsuccessful renovation, by following professional advice.
- Review their body of work, by playing/seeing/walking their courses. Don’t be impressed by only the quality of the grass; that is important, it shows good construction practices but there is so much more to a great course. The design, visual appeal, shot values, challenge, fairness, enjoyability, maintainability and profitability.
- Review the number of years of experience an architectural firm has. Golf design is not an easy field in which to become accomplished. It takes approximately 10-15 years in the industry as a designer to gain the necessary experience to be able to deliver a high quality golf course. As in most artistic fields, many never master the skills, have the judgment or possess the natural ability to become a top rated designer. An architect’s body of work and his personal references are essential in choosing the right architect for you.
- Talk to the architect’s previous clients, word of mouth is important.
- Don’t be drawn in by name alone, many accomplished golfers use their notoriety to embark on a golf design career. Some partner up with an accomplished designer until they gain the experience to try their hand in it. Many don’t, they simply get work from their name and then struggle to deliver even an average product.
Typically it takes approximately 2 years to build a golf course.
Usually the longest part in the development process happens before construction begins. Land acquisition, zoning, permitting, financing can delay the beginning of construction by 3 months to several years.
The fastest completion in our portfolio ( first tree cut to grassed) lasted 9 months.
(Very sophisticated client, land and permitting in place, sandy site)
The longest lasted 10 years, mostly due to inadequate financing and slow permitting approvals.
In the present market conditions in North America it can typically cost approximately from $3 million to $15 Million for the construction costs only (not including land, permitting, buildings or equipment).
We have designed courses that have costed from the lowest end of the spectrum up to approximately $60 Million, but an average course will usually fall within the $5-$8 Million range for construction only.
These figures are approximate and can vary substantially from site to site and from region to region. Even particularly poor weather can affect the final cost significantly depending on the construction set up.
Typically there are 5 types of golf courses; Championship, Standard, Executive, Par 3 or a Pitch & Putt course.
A Championship caliber golf course (7,000 + yds, par 72) typically will use between 160 to 200+ acres.
A Standard golf course (6,500 yds, par 70-72) typically will use between 140-200 acres.
An Executive golf course (less than 6,000 yds, par 69 or less) will use approximately 80-120 acres.
When determining whether a property is large enough to accommodate a golf course, many factors must be taken into account. The shape of the piece of land, undulations on the land, unusable portions (ie: wetlands etc..) and tree quality are all factors that must be evaluated when determining the suitability of a site for golf development.
When following U.S.G.A standards or a modified California style it can cost between approximately $40,000 and $60,000+ for an average 6,000 sq.ft. green.
When following U.S.G.A standards or a modified soil/drainage method it can cost between $5,000 for a 1,000 sq.ft. tee up to approximately $25,000+ for a multiple tee complex.
- Not hiring a qualified golf course architect that will ensure a high quality design and implementation. Some courses try to use their superintendent, manager or club professional to carry out the conception, design and implementation for potential renovation work. This usually leads to a poor end result and often with no cost savings whatsoever, due to lack of experience and planning. Some more experienced superintendents can achieve good results but that is rarer than it is common. Simply building a feature is achievable, but it is in the details that a lack of design experience is often evident (sightlines, feature placement, depths, playability, water management, quality control, maintenance etc..)
- Using an employee to plan and carry out the renovations. Most employees are not qualified or experienced enough to be put in charge of the success or failure of a renovation project. Many superintendents have lost their jobs because they were blamed for a poor renovation outcome.
- Not properly evaluating the true costs of the work. Without proper guidance most courses do not properly estimate the cost of the work or allow for a contingency, they are more concerned about coming in on budget than doing a good job (these renovations will in all likelihood be in play for 30-40 years or more)(ie: No one will remember if a bunker complex was $1,000 over budget in 10 years, but they will remember a bunker that is always full of water, or is not visible or is in the wrong location).
- Trying to use unqualified busy maintenance staff to carry out the work. The maintenance staff is usually quite busy maintaining the golf course; they often don’t have time to carry out renovations, especially in the fall during their aeration/topdressing/leaf pick up period. The recommended method is to bring in a qualified contractor and have some of your staff work with them in order to gain experience that may be used for future projects.
- Choosing a qualified golf course architect to plan and supervise your development.
- Choosing the best possible site for your golf course.
- Setting an appropriate budget, including contingencies to realize the overall development that has been planned.
- Hiring a qualified contractor or project manager and qualified team to carry out the construction of the golf course.
- Ensuring that qualified experienced golf course shapers are used during the construction of your golf course.
- Allow for a realistic construction schedule to be followed.
- Building a great golf course is much more than just the technical details of the construction, it is a piece of art that should flow with the land, look as natural as possible as though it has been there for hundreds of years. The course should be challenging with many shot/strategic options but should be enjoyable for players of all levels. The course should have good balance and the holes and features should be visually dramatic and memorable.