Golf Course Architecture - Issue 62: October 2020

48 G olf and housing go together like… well, like what? Love and marriage? Or oil and water? Although thousands of developments all over the world have integrated golf and homes over the last century, there remains a niggling doubt, especially among ‘purist’ golf lovers, that such courses are ‘real golf’. And since the crash of 2007-8, there have been precious few new such developments taken on, especially in the United States, the traditional hotbed of the golf and housing model. So the question must be asked: is the model broken for good? Or is there a better way to do golf and housing that will still allow the real estate component to be successful, while rendering the golf better and more sustainable – and perhaps even more ‘real’? When asked ‘What is the best way of building a mixed golf and housing development?’ some industry experts take the question head on and propose ways in which a development could be structured to give both components the best chance of success. But several gave a very simple and straightforward answer: don’t do it. ‘Don’t do it’ at least has the virtue of being easy to comprehend. On the other hand, though, for much of the last half century, if most golf architects had turned down housing projects, they would not have had much work. So, perhaps, we need to find a more nuanced response. Architect Colton Craig explains the problem: “The vast majority of golf development prior to 2008 was artificially propped up by the real- estate market and urban sprawl. Pre- recession, we saw the greatest increase in golf course development in the history of the game. However, housing- lot location and roadway drainage took priority over the golf course, and many of these courses lacked interesting design. Golf architecture enthusiasts label this period as the Dark Ages of design. But, does a real-estate golf course automatically mean it is of lower quality? Golf courses being connected to a community is as old as the game. The Old course is a prime example of how a community can become one with its golf course. The town of St Andrews is not a real-estate “One of the most fundamental aspects of golf design is that the site is key” Photo: Jacob Sjöman