Golf architect Andy Staples is set to launch his first ‘Community Links’ concept in the city of Hobbs, New Mexico. Named Ocotillo Park Community Links, Staples says the project aims to invigorate the city’s golf course by implementing design practices that reinforce the link to the surrounding community.
The primary focus of the plan is to attract young people and beginners to golf by redesigning the existing eighteen hole course to incorporate family tees, expand the practice area and add a nine hole executive course with a Starting New at Golf (SNAG) facility. Other elements such as walking trails, trail heads with rest areas and other outdoor spaces within the property have been included to increase use by non-golfers. A complete rebranding is also planned.
“This course is not unlike many older municipally owned courses across the country,” said city manager JJ Murphy. “The course is deteriorating before our eyes, and, people are just not playing golf like they did in years past. This concept provides a complete paradigm shift as to how the city’s course will be viewed within the community and how it will be used by its residents.”
City authorities knew something had to be done, but had little support from around the community since the facility continued to lose money. “When we heard the vision that Andy had for how our golf course could be transformed into something other than your regular ol’ local municipal golf course, we immediately became intrigued,” Murphy said. “Now we’ve had a chance to see the vision begin to come to life, there’s an excitement for this course I have not seen before. I love how this golf course will begin to bring our community together around golf.”
Staples was hired by the city to explore ways to improve the facility which included a full analysis of the course and its infrastructure. After a full inventory of the course was completed, he presented the City with series of proposals that supported the need for improvements. Among his ideas was the concept of using the golf course as a focal point for community development.
“Many courses are looking for reasons to upgrade their facility, but for a variety of reasons, aren’t able to garner the support to do it,” said Staples. “The concept of a Community Links gives a municipality a verifiable reason to invest in their facility. If it improves the life in a particular city and increases use in a deteriorating asset, why wouldn’t they do it?”
Set to begin construction by the end of 2013, the plan keeps overall turf acreage to a minimum, integrates a minimal irrigation delivery system, created by irrigation designer Don Mahaffey, that uses the city’s effluent water system.
“My focus is to create an interesting, fun golf course that feels dramatically different than other courses in the area,” Staples said. “And, by fully integrating the community aspect into the plan, it only gives the project a better chance to succeed. I firmly believe golf should be shared by more people in the country, and we plan to make as large an impact as possible for the city of Hobbs. When we pull it off, it’ll be pretty cool.”