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Is My Land Suitable for a Golf Course Development?

Posted by United Country on July 9, 2015
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Source:American Society of Golf Course Architects

Choosing a site for your golf course can make or break a project. The process of evaluation is multifaceted and there will often be a several options each with a different level of viability and appeal – both objective and subjective.

A standard 18-hole golf course site needs about 150 acres of usable land. Flat is better than too steep, but gently rolling is best. Fan or rectangular-shaped land nicely allows for returning nines.

Generally, a 20-acre contiguous piece of land is needed for the clubhouse site, 1st and 10th tees, 9th and 18th greens and the practice range. The site should allow for orientation away from the sun when starting, finishing and practicing.

Typically, architects and developers strive for a nice panoramic view from the clubhouse. Outstanding natural site features separate a great site from a good one. Simply put, the more and the bigger the better.

All sites possess their own positive and negative characteristics. Site analysis by a golf course architect will lead to the selection of a site best-suited for quality golf.

Site Selection Criteria

Economic Criteria – determined by a feasibility and market study. Criteria include:

  • Accessible location
  • Acceptable land costs
  • Manageable development costs
  • Ability to support all project components (i.e. – development, recreation, regulatory constraints, circulation and infrastructure)

Physiographical Criteria – includes study of the natural opportunities and/or constraints of the site. These include:

  • Topography
  • Soils
  • Water
  • Vegetation
  • Wildlife
  • Site drainage

Site Governance – the site must also be considered for its:

  • Regulatory restrictions
  • Property size and shape
  • Existing utilities and structures

Off-Site Issues – factor into an acceptable site as well. The project team must consider potential:

  • Air traffic
  • Noise
  • Views
  • Odors

The golf course architect plays an important role in selecting the construction site or evaluating alternative sites. The architect can quickly assess whether a prospective site has the necessary character for a golf course. Some of the most desirable features include rolling hills and interesting landscape, which minimizes earthmoving, thus resulting in reduced construction costs.

Also, environmental issues such as wetlands must be considered. The site must be suited to allow an environmentally responsible approach to the development of the new golf course. In addition, two more important natural factors in site selection are drainage and soil condition. Drainage and quality topsoil are essential to growth of the fine turf.

Other key components in site selection are the ease of utility connections and accessibility to the new project. Power and potable water must be available for the clubhouse and maintenance facility. Obviously, the proposed course must be well-situated to attract golfers of all skill levels. Accessibility to major population centers and thoroughfares is most desirable. A civil engineer, land planner, developer, contractor, golf course architect and/or golf course operator may also be needed for site selection to provide perspective to economic and physiographical criteria.