When a Client or Golf Club Committee are considering alterations to their course they should be protecting their interests by looking beyond the club pro, the club champion or an ex-pro golfer. There is no doubt that these individuals often have a considered opinion when it comes to golf course design and indeed may form a valuable part of the team. However, in order to get the best results on a project where you only get one chance to get it right, a qualified Golf Architect should be appointed to lead the process.
What is a Professionally Qualified Golf Course Architect?
The Royal and Ancient (governing body) have a definition of a professionally qualified Golf Course Architect:
“The golf course architect is probably the only person who can satisfactorily reconcile the difficult compromise between the needs of the site, the client, the cost, the season and the contractor. The professional golf course architect’s abilities must encompass:
Basic engineering. The architect must have knowledge of the use of modern earth moving equipment and of what can be done easily and what would be unduly expensive. They should also have detailed knowledge of drainage and irrigation systems and familiarity with surveying and the interpretation of aerial photographs and topographic maps.
Landscape and ecology. A well designed golf course should become part of and enhance the natural landscape and, to achieve this, the architect must have a full appreciation of these issues.
Construction techniques. Extensive experience of golf course construction is essential. The architect should be able to prepare estimates, control contracts, advise on construction problems or correct any mistakes which may arise, certify payments and agree final accounts.
Plans and Specifications. The flair to design a really good golf course layout is, obviously, essential but this must be supported by the ability to conceive and draw up detailed plans of greens and other items. Specifications are also needed covering all phases of tendering and subsequent construction.
The game of golf. The architect should have a thorough understanding of the game, its strategy, courses and tradition. Many golfers have this knowledge but, though essential, it is only a relatively small part of being a competent golf course architect.
Turf culture and greenkeeping. Experience and an understanding of all the problems connected with the establishment and maintenance of the turf on a golf course is highly desirable. Knowledge is needed on soils, cultivation, soil ameliorants and fertilisers, irrigation, modern developments in grass seeds, weed and pest control, etc, but the golf course architect should be aware of their technical shortcomings and arrange for specialist advice when it is needed.”