Sunday, April 24, 2011

The design and architecture of golf courses

Golf courses can be of different shapes and sizes. Golf course designers have plenty of tools they can use to enhance golf courses and holes, while golf course landscapes can also vary from forested woodlands to desert plains, and even mountainous landscapes. However, despite such variety course design and architecture has a few regulations, and all courses share many of the same features.

Let us first begin by stating that it is a standard that golf courses be 18 holes. 18 holes is a very strict number that is never eclipsed by golf course designers. The only exception is for smaller golf courses, which are called nine hole golf courses. If there is not enough acres for an 18 hole golf course, then a smaller nine-hole golf course is the alternative.

In terms of size large golf courses typically expand up to 7,000 yards. Smaller 18 hole golf courses may be more like 6,000 yards or possibly even less. Much depends on the overall length of the holes included on the golf course which can be either par 3, par 4, or par 5 holes. Par 3 are shorter golf holes, par 4 holes are mid distance typically between 300 to 450 yards, while par 5 holes can go up to 600 yards for the longest. Golf courses tend to have a mixture of these holes.

Aside from the distance considerations the golf holes themselves will all share a few features. The tee box and greens can be strategically placed by the designer, either at higher or lower elevation. Then, most longer holes will include fairways to aim for which can be either narrow or wide. These fairways are more like a pathway towards the green, and are then surrounded by longer grass which is called the rough.

In addition to this, almost every hole will include pit-falls of some sort. The most frequently used by golf course designers are those of bunkers, which are effectively sand traps. There are two types of bunker, either green-side or fairway bunkers. The fairway bunkers tend to be larger, and are found along the fairway. Then, the green-side bunkers are placed around the green. Overall, bunkers can vary in size and depth, some can be deep and others shallow. Usually, there are at least a few bunkers on each hole.

Bunkers aside, course designers can also make use of other pit-falls. These can include trees and bushes, whereby holes are built through and round them. With trees around the hole, wayward tee shots can be lost. Then, there are watery lakes and streams which can run alongside holes, or alternatively even around greens. When a ball lands in a lake there is not a chance of finding it!

Today, golf designers such as Trent Jones are designing particularly innovative golf courses. Making use of the natural landscape and features, such as cliff-sides and ocean (such as the Ocean Course), as well as course elevation changes, their golf courses can be great to play on. As such, the design and architecture of modern golf courses is not entirely the same as the older more traditional courses.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Great countries to play golf

Which are the best countries to play golf at? Overall, most countries have at least a few golf courses, and some have lots. These are a few of the great countries and destinations to play golf.

United States:

Well, this cannot be considered much of a surprise as the United States probably has more golf courses than any other country, and hosts three Major championships. When you consider that a number of these are also some of the finest golf courses in any country, the United States is hard to beat for golf. On the Pacific Coast there are great courses like Pebble Beach in California, while next to the Atlantic there are courses such as the Ocean Course. Golf resorts such as Kiawah Island and Pinehurst are also great for golf vacations.

United Kingdom:

The United Kingdom also has some great and famous golf courses. St Andrews is probably the most notable of these, but other great golf courses in the UK include Sunningdale and Wentworth. Admittedly, the climate in Scotland is not always ideal for golf, but at any rate golf courses in the south of England have warmer average climates more comparable with those southern European hot spots.


Spain has some of the finest golf courses in Europe, particularly in the south of Spain. Mediterranean resorts, such as at the Costa Del Sol, have an excellent variety of golf courses. Spain also has some of Europe's most famous golf courses such as Valderrama. Aside from golf, Spanish coastal resorts, such as the Spanish Riviera, are also among the top vacation resorts in Europe.


Portugal is another of Europe's top venues for golf. Lisbon has a great variety of golf courses and golf resorts. Golf courses in the Algarve, such as Mon Reid and Quints de Ra are among some of Europe's top golf courses.

The Bahamas:

The Bahamas is a destination of the PGA Tour with its tropical climate making the Bahamas a great destination for a golf vacation. Whatever the season, you can play golf in the Bahamas. As such, the Bahamas has some top golf courses such as the Trent Jones designed Reef Golf Course, or the the Lucayan Course.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Golf vacation resorts in the United States

If you are planning on a US golf vacation, then there are a few potential destinations worth considering. American golf resorts have plenty to offer, be it on or off the golf course. So, here are a few suggestions for an American golf vacation.

Pebble Beach:

Pebble Beach is considered to be one of America's best golf courses and resorts. The course is based beside the Pacific Ocean, with its prevailing winds, and fine coastal setting. Overall, Pebble Beach golf course hugs the Pacific coastline, with cliff-side fairways and sloping greens. Pebble Beach has some fine holes, such as the 7thwhich has a number of bunkers around the green beside the Pacific coast. Certainly, it is a golf course of championship calibre but it also remains a public venue.

Equally, the resort is not just about the Pebble Beach golf course. The Links at Pebble Bay, and Spy Glass Hill golf course are also both commendable courses. In addition to this, the Pebble Beach resort has spa, fitness and a variety of catering options. For further details, the Pebble Beach website is worth noting.

Pinehurst Resort:

Pinehurst resort, in North Carolina, is a golf resort which boasts up to eight golf courses. Prominent golf course architects such as Rees Jones, Ross, and Fazio have all played a hand in the design of the Pinehurst golf courses. As such, the resort certainly does not lack variety. The number two course is the championship golf course that has staged a few Majors. Other courses, such as the first course, are also more historic dating back to 1898, and have more classic designs.

You can take your pick from the variety of golf courses, but in addition to this Pinehurst also provides alternative recreation. Pinehurst is not just about golf, with tennis courts, lawn sports, wine festivals, and the Pinehurst Beach club which is a 200 acre private freshwater lake. Spa and fitness suite are also available, along with dining options such as the 1895 Grille. As such, Pinehurst has a variety of packages including golf, spa, and other recreational options linked with its accommodation options.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort:

On the south coast of Carolina lies South Carolina's golf resort on Kiawah Island. Like Pinehurst, it offers some diversity of golf courses with up to five championship calibre courses designed by the likes of Nicklaus, Player, Dye, and Fazio. The Ocean Course has staged great golf championships such as the Ryder Cup, and World Cups. This course runs close to the Atlantic, and few golf courses are impacted by prevailing winds like the Ocean Course is. The Ocean Course also has a number of sea-side holes which provide views of the Atlantic Ocean. Overall, it is regarded as one of the best public golf courses.

So, these are three suggestions for golf vacations. The resorts of Pebble Beach, Kiawah Island, and Pinehurst are all recommended American golf resorts with some great golf courses, and other recreational options.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Golf at the Movies

There have been a number of golf films over the decades. Some of these have been good films, featuring plenty of great golfing action. Here are a few of the best golf films.

Tin Cup:

Tin Cup starred Costner as Tin Cup, a great golf pro who is inspired to resurrect his golfing career by Molly Griswold. Tin Cup qualifies for the US Open, and is among the leaders going into the closing holes. Only an ambitious shot over the water onto the green prevents Tin Cup from US Open glory, which lands in the water a number of times before going in the hole. And here is that great final shot, on video:


Caddyshack is another great golf film, starring Chase and Rodney Dangerfield. The film set a benchmark for comedy sport films with some hilarious golf scenes. It was also followed by the sequel Caddyshack 2. As such, it's also the only golf film with a sequel. This classic film even had its own TV ad released over a decade later when Woods starred as Spackler in the American Express Caddyshack commercial.

The Greatest Game Ever Played:

This golf film is one that covers the history of the sport in greater detail. The film is based on the true story of Ouitment's victory at the 1913 US Open, with the screenplay adapted from the book The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf. Ouitment was the first amateur to win the US Open, finishing ahead of Vardon. As such, it's an interesting film and one of few that covers historically significant golf championships.

These are a few of the best golf films. Tin Cup, the Caddyshack films, and The Greatest Game Ever Played are four of the best golf films available on DVD.