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.


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