Golf Course Architecture - Issue 62: October 2020

56 RESI DENT I AL GOL F As an architect, I look at many things, and one is the developer’s perspective. How do we give them value, reduce their risk and create a course that is unique, exciting and enjoyable? Most developers still want frontage as they know it is easy to sell. Eighteen holes gives you the potential for the most frontage but also costs the most to build and operate. Sustainability is a combination of financial and environmental and the two can work together fairly well. Less land means less initial capital to build and lower annual maintenance: less labour, water, electricity, fuel, chemicals, fertilisers, etc. The numbers have to work for the developer, or it is a dead project. Depending on the site and programme, amount of land available for golf and housing, we consider a few approaches: Housing pod: pockets of high value housing to complement the golf course, this approach preserves a lot of open space. The site will dictate whether they are within, or on the edge, of the golf. This allows golf without the constant detraction of the housing, which will be fewer lots, but each of significantly higher value. Driven by environmental sensitivity this was the only way our Pezula course in South Africa could happen. Sea Ranch in northern California was an early example of this approach back in 1973. Core golf: uses less land and provides golf frontage only at the perimeter of the course. Our highly-rated new Chee Chan Golf Resort (pictured) in Pattaya, Thailand, is an example. The quality of the golf experience was as much a priority as the housing, and it is a unique and fun experience. Hybrid course: a combination of core golf with some corridor areas. Our under construction Binh Tien Golf Resort course just south of Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam is a perfect example. The front nine is core and the back nine has dual fairway corridors on four holes, as dictated by the site. This gives the developer a variety of products to market and the golf experience is intact. The key to the golf in this scenario is keeping the corridors wide so the golfer does not feel confined. Shorter courses: there is less potential for golf frontage so the challenge is how do we get enough added value for the developer? Being somewhat traditionalist, I lean towards nine holes with a three- or six-hole loop built in (as we have done in Tbilisi, Georgia). Standalone six or 12 hole course are harder sell, especially in the developing golf world. The exception is as an additional amenity to a resort with other golf options, like the Preserve at Bandon Dunes. The days of wall-to-wall turf are rightly over. It is a waste of many resources, mainly water. The bigger the course and more turf to maintain, the greater the cost to operate, and play or join. Cost will be a huge factor to sustainability and growth of golf. Families have more interests to cater to and less devoted to one main activity. There is room for a bit of everything and demographics, region and size of project will dictate the best approach, but the top of the pyramid will be the more golf-driven projects, while the bulk will be multi-amenity to cater to all. Above all, site selection – balancing quality and potential with convenience of location – will always be the greatest factor to success and sustainability. The right choice Kevin Ramsey of Golfplan outlines the four key approaches to a golf and housing project Photo: Mandarin Media