France now has 609 18-hole courses, averaging 5800 meters and each representing about 50 hectares. Golfers’ courses can sometimes appear as plain and completely integrated into the surrounding nature, but they nonetheless require essential steps to be taken to successfully build them and ensure their sustainability, both financially and environmentally.
Hire a professional architect
The first step is to find a professional in the discipline, an experienced and talented architect to guide the various stages of construction. Although there is no actual architecture degree, the most common training will be landscape architect training, which will include knowledge of civil engineering, land use planning, environmental studies, and building courses. It would also be desirable as a golfer to put yourself in the shoes of good players and beginners.
In keeping with the nature of the project and the objectives of the owner or promoter who has previously conducted an in-depth study of the market, the architect will facilitate each stage of construction while controlling budgets and respecting deadlines.
American architect Tom Doak, while suffering from a handicap of 8, knows how to perfectly adapt his courses to all types of golfers.
Site selection and masterplan development
The second essential step, is to choose a site whose legal, environmental and safety restrictions must be thoroughly understood. The total available space should be sufficient for the architect to be able to freely express his talent without particularly real estate restrictions. The terrain should not be too solid to guarantee enjoyment of the game, nor should it be so monotonous that you do not have to move large amounts of cubic meters of land to move the scene. The quality of the subsoil, ideally sandy, will allow it to drain whatever the weather and provide a consistent and uniform roll all year round.
Diverse vegetation adapted to the requirements of the golf course (types with trailing roots, brittle branches, etc.) will enrich the game strategy and visual experience. Any water reserve would be an undeniable asset. Thus, a competent architect will be able to improve the site without distorting it, in particular to make water from any streams converging towards natural or artificial lakes.
The development of a masterplan that will integrate the course and all of its facilities (club, tracks, bridges, access points, etc.) will be the next step to provide a global and long-term vision for the project strategy.
The masterplan (here from Roissy) provides a global view of the project. credit / Roissy
Actual construction of the course: the engineering and architecture of golf
The actual design of the course requires real on-site involvement from the architect and lasts an average of two years. Famous American Architect Tom Doakwho built six golf courses among the 100 best golf courses in the world, reveals that the best lesson learned from him house dye (TPC Sawgrass engineer in Florida among others) is an absolute necessity to spend time in the field to suck it up. He himself spent more than 15 days on the Grand Saint Emilionnais golf course site when he first came, drawing inspiration from the site and personally identifying the trees of the 102-hectare property.
It should be noted that the progress in construction machinery over the past 50 years has opened up new possibilities. In terms of design, the architect will first remove and throw trees and shrubs. Then it will look for the locations of the greens and the best “natural” holes. He will then make sure to design a path (or series of holes) that is fluid and in harmony with his environment. The distances will be adapted to amateurs and not to a potential professional tournament. Obstacles and in particular bunkers, placed strategically, will not need to be very many, which will significantly reduce construction and maintenance costs. In consultation with an agronomist, the choice of lawn will correspond to the soil, climate and available resources to ensure its good health. It will also prevent the presence of pests, diseases and hairiness; A waste of time for field teams and a blocker, they will be able to deliver a homogeneous surface quickly.
At the level of work, it is a tangle of tasks to be accomplished. Hire local contractors to take care of the pruning or even watering. However, it is still better for the architect to provide specialized “shapers” to form the shapes of the cycle. The upstream green ranger can be chosen in order to adopt the philosophy of the course, to know how to interpret it but also to act as a foreman to know the land as much as possible, perhaps taking care of the work of excavation, drainage and seeding all by being able to anticipate certain problems. Thus, maintenance will be linked to the price of the green fee and the expected return on investment.
The 16th hole of Albatros National Golf Course and its water body during construction work. credit / GN
Stick to the schedule
Adherence to the calendar remains crucial and will be based on the ideal period of sowing and fermentation. When computed retrospectively, the work will take into account the nature of the subsoil and the vagaries of the weather. A two-stage hole, in nine-hole increments for example, could allow for some adjustments knowing the income would not be the same and the golf experience somewhat polluted.
Building the courses, meticulously executed and integrated into their environment, remains a massive space enhancement and a high value-added investment in the long run. However, the end goal will always be to achieve a well-crafted natural, strategic and recreational course for all types of golfers while controlling costs and environmental impact. A qualified and talented architect will be able to fulfill this mission by suggesting that his work is the work of Mother Nature and that she is always there.
The Saint-Germain golf course, perfectly integrated into its environment, seems to have always existed. Credit / Saint-Germain
Kristel Morge Dalg, who is she?
Christel Morge-Dalge, the former European golfer who joined after winning the AUC Champion, is now co-owner of the Grand Saint-Émilionnais Golf Club and advisor to Golf+.