European golf course architects focus on inclusivity

  • EIGCA meeting
    Mark Hawkins/Composed Images

    Zoe Thacker of Wales Golf described the development of a new short game facility designed for inclusivity

  • EIGCA meeting
    Mark Hawkins/Composed Images

    Cardiff local Richard Allen of EcoBunker provided an overview of the golf courses of Wales

  • EIGCA meeting
    Mark Hawkins/Composed Images

    EIGCA member Ben Stephens gave an insight into the experience of golf as a deaf person

  • EIGCA meeting
    Mark Hawkins/Composed Images

    Tim Lobb (right) and Caspar Grabaulle, respectively the new president and vice president of EIGCA

Toby Ingleton
By Toby Ingleton

‘Golf for all’ was the theme of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects’ latest annual meeting, held in Cardiff, Wales, in October.

The event gave EIGCA members and representatives from the wider golf industry the opportunity to consider how the sport can be made more inclusive, with a particular emphasis on how golf courses can be designed to encourage greater participation among groups that are currently under-represented, including women and people with disabilities.

Following an overview of the golf courses of Wales by Cardiff local Richard Allen, of EcoBunker, Zoe Thacker of Wales Golf provided an insight into the creation of a new short game academy at Parc Golf Club in Newport, built by Southwest Greens, that was created with accessibility and inclusivity in mind.

Wendy Cole and Jackie Davidson of The R&A respectively provided updates on the progress on the Golf Course 2030 initiative, which considers the impacts of climate change and resource constraints on course conditioning and playability, and the Women in Golf Charter, which aims to encourage women, girls and families to play golf and to open up more opportunities for women to work in the industry.

Golf course architect Ben Stephens, who was born profoundly deaf, described his experiences of playing golf and working in the industry, and Mark Perkins of Battle Back Golf described how golf was crucial for him, and other wounded military colleagues, as a form of rehabilitation.

The EIGCA is in progress with a project to promote the design of facilities so they appeal to a wider audience, with members Kari Haug, Ken Moodie and Ben Stephens coordinating the production of design guidelines for those involved in golf course projects.

The meeting also saw outgoing president Christoph Staedler reflect on what had been a challenging year as architects got to grips with new ways of working during the pandemic, while also expressing optimism about the resulting increase in the popularity of golf. Tim Lobb was elected as the new EIGCA president, and Caspar Grauballe, a former associate of Martin Hawtree and now principal of ByCaspar, as vice president.

Over the past year, Pierre Fulke, a former European Tour player, and Graeme Webster were welcomed as new members of the EIGCA, while ten people were upgraded to full membership and three were accepted as candidates for membership.

“I will use my term as EIGCA president, and the platform this provides, to drive ahead with the message that the design of a course is fundamental to safeguarding the future of golf,” said Lobb. “We need to stress how the design of courses helps promote the game of golf, for all.”