A template for outstanding Daily Fee and municipal golf

Matt learned the game on daily fee and municipal golf courses and he feels that the future of the game depends upon the development of public access facilities that can attract and retain enthusiastic golfers of all skill levels.  We are advocates for well-designed public access golf courses that are SustainableAccessible, Affordable, designed and maintained for a brisk Pace of Play, and are still able to remain Strategically Interesting for more skilled and experienced golfers.

Sustainable Golf Courses meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future stakeholders to also have their needs met.  The desired results of a sustainable facility are economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity by considering the needs of all present and future stakeholders within the community.

Matt is currently enrolled and has completed Stage 3 of the Raising the Standard of Sustainable Golf Course Design (RSSGCD) program. This is the first and only continuing professional development course to promote sustainable golf design principals.

The program was developed in partnership between the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA) and the Golf Environment Organization (GEO).

Matt was recently able to share his thoughts about creating interesting, publicly accessible golf courses when he presented a lecture entitled, The Comeback of the Commons” to an international assembly of golf course architects in Adelaide, Australia.

Accessible Golf Courses welcome all skill levels, from beginners through experienced players, short hitters and long hitters, the young and the elderly.  For a course to be accessible, forced carries over sand, water, and native vegetation must be minimized to the greatest extent possible, allowing players the option to play along the ground toward the green.  There must be well thought-out and interesting contouring to further encourage the ground game and reward creativity in shot-making.  Fast and firm turf conditions, achieved by efficient surface and sub-surface drainage and proper maintenance practices, are also a necessity for this style of play.

Affordable Golf Courses should be the rule rather than the exception for public and municipal golf.  If the game is to grow and thrive, it needs to appeal to a new generation that has less disposable income and more entertainment options than previous generations. Golf course design that is focused on minimizing maintenance costs (including costly inputs such as water, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers) and encourages walking - with shorter layouts and shorter walks between holes - can go a long way toward making the game of golf more affordable while, at the same time, making it more environmentally and economically sustainable. 

Pace of Play can also be improved with thoughtful design choices.  These choices can include, but are not limited to: reducing or eliminating forced carries, clearing vegetation and trees away from the line of play to reduce the time spent searching for lost balls, emphasizing the visibility of all hazards, short walks from green to tee, and shorter golf courses.

Strategic Interest is all too often lacking in public and municipal facilities.  Operators do not need to settle for repetitive and unimaginative contouring and bunker placement as a trade-off for a golf course that is quicker to play and easier to maintain.  We believe that very interesting strategic golf can be achieved in conjunction with reduced maintenance costs and improved pace of play.  The following illustration provides some examples of strategic design elements that can be employed to that end:

  • Wider fairways and less rough will allow the weaker player the opportunity to advance the ball and greatly reduce the time spent searching for off-line shots.

  • Properly placed and shaped strategic land forms and hazards will give more skilled golfers the opportunity to hit to the small portion of the widened fairway that will give the most advantageous angle and distance into the green.

  • Tightly mown green surrounds are often more difficult for experienced golfers than beginners. Where a beginner will default to his putter to safely get the ball onto the putting surface, more highly skilled players, in the pursuit of par or better, can be paralyzed by the choice between a number of club and shot options.