Harmonylinksgolf's Blog


The Value of Design in Any Golf Facility

A proper and well thought out design of any golf complex, whether it be an 18 hole championship course or a simple practice facility is very critical in the financial success of any project. After all, it comes down to the conceived value that the ultimate customer receives as to whether he or she will enjoy the experience and spread the word.

With a degree in landscape architecture and having practiced that discipline, along with master planning and golf course architecture, and having been involved with the planning and construction of many great golf projects, both large and small, over the years, the one element that I have learned and remains a constant is that a well thought out design process is critical to the success of any project. One of the key elements to the success of any project is that it fits into its surrounding environment. The balance of great design and aesthetic appeal goes hand in hand. Only the best facilities have both.

I would like to discuss two particular projects of many that I have been involved with over the years, one large scale and one small scale, and discuss the importance of the design process.

I was fortunate enough to be involved with the design and management of a project called Black Diamond Ranch in West Central Florida. I was given the task by the owner of the property to convert over 1,200 acres of rolling shrub oak and sand hills that contain a pair of active limestone quarries into a high end, low density residential golf and country club community. Once topographic information was obtained we developed a master plan and put a great thought into recreating those harsh quarries into one of the key features of the site. The ultimate design decision was to create golf holes around the quarry. In master planning the property I worked closely with the Fazio Organization to achieve a balance of great golf and aesthetic appeal for the property. Every facet in the design process was explored. Large corridors were granted for the golf holes so that the golf experience would not be compromised. The layout of the entrance to the community was designed to take in the view of the now spectacular quarries along with the design of a beautiful streetscape, a hilltop clubhouse with magnificent views and the planting of thousands of Oaks, Magnolias and Azaleas. The property was quickly recognized as one of the top residential communities in the country and it’s Quarry Course in the top 100 courses. Thus success and value was achieved with great design and aesthetic appeal.

The same philosophy holds true on a smaller scale with the design of the “Marsh Course” a synthetic turf Par 3 course at the Hartson residence located on the Gulf of Mexico. Mr. Hartson had three of his 5 lots that were unusable for building homes and thus he decided to build a short game complex to enjoy and improve his golf game as well as increase the value of his property. The design approach to the layout of the complex was to make sure first that the design quality of the greens and synthetic materials used would reflect as closely as possible the experience of a real grass green to ultimate help him improve his short game; secondly, that the setting would be aesthetically appealing and fit into the sensitive environment that surrounds his property; and thirdly that the greens would be properly built to stand up to the tidal and storm surges that are a regular occurrence.

Thus a Par 3 course was planned and laid out with two greens that have multi-able pin locations and a variety of teeing locations to give a range of shots from 15 to 93 yards.

Let’s discuss the design approach, and walk though the thought process of how the course design evolved. Mr. Hartson had already had an Environmental Engineer survey the site to determine the areas (uplands) where the greens could be placed. It was determined that there were two locations that could be used and it was decided that these two locations would be where the greens would fit best. The next decision was to locate the teeing area. His entrance drive and garden area provide numerous opportunities for these locations. Once the tee locations where determined the next step was to get into the detail of designing the greens and the placement of bunker. The greens needed to be elevated and protected to preserve them from storm surge conditions, so concrete retaining walls were built to support the greens. This element turned into a spectacular aesthetic feature because it made the greens appear that they are floating in the sea of sawgrass from the view entering his property.

The next element of the design was to insure the green when laid out to receive the shots from the various tee locations and bunkers. Contouring of an artificial green is very much like a regular golf green only at a much reduced scale. The greens were designed to maintain a one to one and a half percentage slope for good putting surfaces. Slopes, backdrops and soft berming areas were also calculated to insure good reception of wedge shots from the various teeing ground and chipping locations. The various pin placements were then assigned to create an array of putts and wedge shot alternatives. The final touch to the property was the recreation of the marshland area that had been slightly disturbed (with permission from DEP and county) during the construction. When said and done the new greens fit into the already beautiful aesthetic setting that surrounded Mr. Hartson’s home.

The goal that he set out to accomplish was to create a great short game area that he and his friends could enjoy and progress in pursuit of perfecting their short game. The fact that the complex was well thought out and designed properly has added tremendous value to his properties.

I have witnessed a number of artificial putting green installations over the years and am amazed on how little thought is put into the design and functionality of the area. If someone is going to invest thousands of dollars in the installation of a green the very least one should expect is that it will provide a good practice experience, be aesthetically appealing, and help increase the value of one’s property and home setting. Additionally, being part of the design process and knowing what will be delivered is essential.

So if you have a portion of your property that is under utilized and you are looking to improve your golf game, a short course or practice facility could be the answer to help increase the value of your property.

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