Luke is an avid weekend-warrior golfer from the East Coast who plays golf more than he cares to admit.
Out getting an 18 round in and stop to wonder how are golf courses made? Let’s dive into how they’re built and cover the following basics:
Golf course creation 101:
- The golf course – how do you build one?
- How is a golf course layout designed?
- How are golf fields made?
- What is a golf course made of?
The Golf Course – How do you Build One?
Golf courses are created by no small feat. Here’s how you build a golf course:
To create a new golf field, you’ll need:
- Dirt – about 7 million cubic yards to be exact
- Clean sand – for putting greens
- Water – to keep greens and fairways green
A few key pieces – to create a course with 18 holes including:
- Greens – Golf course greens are among the hardest and most time-consuming parts of a course to build. Greens are seeded with bent-grass and take up the much of the acreage as there is 18 greens on an average course.
- Fairways – A fairway in golf is the area between the tee box and the green. Fairways are usually mowed shorter than roughs but longer than a green.
- Roughs – A Golf course’s brush or grass that is cut short and grown beyond fairway and greens, which makes it tougher to hit into (but not impossible).
- Water hazards – Typical water hazards on a golf course are ponds and lagoons.
- Sand traps – Sand traps on a golf course are are visually pleasing along the green of the fairways however they are bunkers and traps where sand is placed.
- Tee Markers – Standard tee markers on a golf course are 3-inch white rubber plates that are located on a tee box.
- Tees – Standard golf course tees are those white 3-inch rubber plates placed every few yards at the beginning of each hole.
- Putting Green – a golf course will have a putting green which is a practice area for golfers to warm up their short game on.
- Teeing Ground – this is a region where golfers can practice with their longer hitting golf clubs such as the driver or longer irons.
- Tee Box and Tee Boxes – these are places where the tee shot is taken as you play golf on each hole. This is the golf ball starting position.
- Penalty Area – A golf penalty area is the section of the course where a penalty is imposed if your ball lies there.
How is a golf course layout designed?
A golf course layout requires a significant amount of planning to ensure the course will be fun and challenging. It’s not something you can just slap together without knowing what you are doing or having the proper equipment.
To design a golf course, it calls for extensive knowledge in many different areas including:
- Golf course design
- Soil mechanics – so you know where to place bunkers and water hazards
- Sculpting the land – so you can create the best play-ability for your course
- Topography – to make sure its level and doesn’t have any hills, ditches or mountains on it
- Land use – to determine what types of trees and plants you’ll need for your course I n addition to all this, you’ll need to know how to control the environment created on your course.
Who makes new golf fields layouts?
Golf course designers create new golf course designs and refine existing ones. They follow sketches, blueprints or plans before they get to work.
To become a golf course designer, you’ll need at least an associates degree in design from a trade school or university program. Many courses prefer graduates of top golf course layout programs with internships under their belt.
What is the average salary for a golf course designer?
Golf course designers make an average salary of about $54,000 a year in the United States. Those lucky enough to work in private clubs will be able to use their knowledge and design skills for more than their 9-5 hours.
Famous golf course architects
If you’re a golfer then you may know some of these famous golf course architects:
Alister MacKenzie – He worked on the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia and is a co-designer of The Masters
Sentry Tournament of Champions Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw – They’ve designed courses for Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines and Bandon Dunes in Oregon.
How are golf fields made?
Golf fields are made by a group of people who work together to build these amazing layouts. We’ll go over what they do one by one:
Golf course designers – They take the plans and sketch out designs for new courses or review/refine existing ones.
Topography engineers – Their job is to ensure that all the courses, ponds and other features are level.
Landscaping specialists – They lay out trees, plants and other landscape features on the course so they look aesthetically pleasing.
Construction workers – These guys are the most visible of all the construction group as they’re responsible for actually building your new field! Here’s a list of their duties:
Excavating dirt from the site – this is done by large machines called excavators
Moving dirt to where it needs to be put – this is done with dump trucks and front loaders.
Putting down fertilizer and topsoil – to make sure the grass grows thick and strong
Planting grass – both fairways and greens are planted with grass that is cut very short which makes it easier to putt on
Installing sand – this is done for bunkers, water hazards as well as other spots on the course
Installing playing equipment – this includes tee & pin markers, flag sticks, cups, carts and more.
How are Golf Fields Made?
The process of making golf fields starts with a design on paper which is then given to the construction company to build.
Depending on how new or old your course is, that will determine what type of machinery they use to lay it out.
For new courses, heavy equipment operators are likely to be used while older courses may require hand tools and primitive technology. This includes things like sticks and ropes to mark out the course.
What is a golf course made of?
A golf course is usually made of three things:
Grass – If you’re not sure what type of grass is used, often times if you live in a colder region, it’s Fescue; if it’s warmer, they go for Bermuda grass.
Trees – Trees planted are usually native to the area the golf course is located in.
Water – This is used to add certain elements like ponds, streams and wetlands on the new layout.
Links Golf & Links Courses
Links Golf is a form of golf that is played on natural grass and over the coastal regions in Scotland. The reason it’s called links is because “links” refers to a plot of land which has been altered by human activity such as agriculture or settlements.
Links courses were born from the rules used by shepherds who would play with their sheepdogs to pass the time.
Famous Links Courses
The most famous links course is in St. Andrews in Scotland. They also have another one in the town of Carnoustie, with more than 7 courses within a 30 mile radius!
Bermuda Golf & Bermuda Courses
The Bermuda grass that is used to make most golf courses is resistant to drought, heat and cold which makes it ideal for warm weather regions like Florida.
Bermuda courses have a reputation for being more difficult because they don’t grow as long as the grass used on links courses.
Difference of Links and Bermuda Courses
Links golf usually has rolling hills which makes it harder to putt whereas Bermuda is flat so you get longer roll-offs.
In addition, links courses have heavy soil which means the greens are sloped more so it’s harder to putt whereas Bermuda courses have sandy soils so there is very little slope in the green.
Famous Modern Courses
The most popular modern courses in golf are Torrey Pines, Chambers Bay and Erin Hills.
Why are there so many Golf Courses?
Every golf course is different but one reason is to make the sport more exciting for people who play it. This includes making courses harder (i.e. links) or easier (i.e. Bermuda) depending on the region of the world.
Making courses harder makes it more fun, as well as appealing to new players who are looking for a challenge. This is why you see links-style courses in cooler climates and the more difficult Bermuda grasses used on warmer regions of the planet.
Inland Courses Vs Coastal Courses
Not sure which golf course design is easier to play on? Typically, inland courses (most courses) are easier to play on because they have more flat terrain, whereas coastal courses have mounds & hills which makes them harder.
An inland course would be similar to a typical “parkland” design while a coastal course is comparable to a links layout.
Nine Holes Golf Course Design
Golf course design for a nine hole course is different than a full 18 hole as it doesn’t have to accommodate the long parts of the course including traveling from one tee box to another.
Typically, nine hole golf consists a make up of three loops which are designed to play as three separate 18 hole courses. This makes it easier for players because if they can shoot under-par on loop #1, they don’t have to complete the other loops to consider it a good round.
In contrast, if they shoot under-par on loop #2, they have to go out and play the third loop in order to complete the 9 hole course.
This is one reason why an 18 hole course (by golf course design) is more difficult to play golf than a nine hole course because playing through three separate loops is more difficult than just completing all the holes one after another.