Even the biggest and skilled golf fans will hate the game if the golf course they play on is badly designed. On the other hand, golfers keep coming back to the courses that have been created with the player in mind and which add a lot to the game of golf on their own. What makes a good golf course a great one?
The top things to have in a golf course
- Holes designed to be a challenge but not a nightmare
A good hole has its own character – well-planned bunkers and other potential hazards, requiring some strategy planning. Of course, it all has to make sense so that the players can feel the challenge and use their skills – but in the end, they have to be playable, and be thought of well after the game; and not be memorized as ‘the impossible ones’. They don’t have to be the most difficult golf courses in the world, but they do have to provide a challenge.
- A well thought-out target audience
In order to entice its members to stay and to entertain them, golf courses should value both professional players and amateurs. This can be done by either giving both skilled players and absolute beginners a course adjusted to different skill sets and game styles or by focusing solely on one of the groups, by creating either an easy or a very difficult course. Apart from that, special events and tournaments targeting the chosen audience will keep the social life around the club active and can increase the number of rounds played by each player.
- Scenery, history and overall course personality
Courses with a long history, those that either hosted historical events or are designed in a way that gives the feeling of the past can attract many professional players, looking for something different than their usual course. Same goes with the scenery and the way nature was preserved on the course; beautiful ponds, rivers, and trees can make for both a great hazard and an element of the course’s landscape. Of course, all the elements should fit well together, and create an unforgettable ‘personality’ of the course.
- Routing – continuity of experience.
The routing plan of the course should be well thought and easy to follow. Sometimes it’s hard to find the direction to hit the ball and this can be more frustrating than anything else during the game. Good courses are designed to lead the players through all of the best features of the course, telling ‘the story’ of the holes. This also means that inappropriate locations for bunkers or water can be very distracting for players and make the course an architect’s nightmare. Sometimes, bells and whistles are unwanted as the course’s natural landscape is so good it requires just a few modifications to fit most players.
- A little bit of variety in design
A good course should make the game on it interesting with the use of smart design – a mix of straight holes, long and short ones, with different distance between them and a variety of hazards which have players in mind; this is true especially for private course, membership at which should offer more because of the price. The designers should keep in mind the wind, the possible way players may want to hit the ball and to properly reward the risk they take with each hit. A well-thought out features can make the game on the course a very enjoyable challenge.
- The condition of the course
Even the best design has to be maintained. If the club owner can’t afford to keep the course in a good shape, its shine will fade and the players will simply leave. On the other hand, a course with a little fewer gimmicks but with the quality, well-maintained greens that preserve the proper ball rolling speed can keep the players coming back for a very long time.
- The green fees
The more expensive the greens the less appealing they will be for the masses but if the course quality is high, higher fees can add to its exclusivity and attract players with bigger budgets.
- The people you share the experience with
Even if you go to the best golf course, designed by the most famous and world-renowned architect, if you don’t like the company you play with, it won’t help. Even a mediocre public course can give you an amazing experience if you play with the group of positive, like-minded friends. Similarly, even the best private course with terrible people will still give you a terrible time.