Golf Course Architecture - Issue 62: October 2020

76 INS IGHT PAUL CHESTER Designing for the short game Paul Chester of Huxley Golf offers an insight into how to boost income potential with a well-designed short course O ne hundred yards. That is all that stands between playing a round to be proud of or a mediocre one. Golfers know how critical mastering the short game is. Although incorporating all-weather areas has become relatively common as clubs realise the benefits of relieving natural grass in adverse weather, the provision of dedicated facilities for focused short game practice is still an opportunity overlooked by many. Accessible, versatile – and hugely addictive – short courses and short game areas give experienced players the opportunity to fit golf into their busy lifestyles as well as encouraging inclusivity by offering juniors and novices a foundation on which to build their skills. However, short game areas are inherently high wear, high risk areas for greenkeepers and course managers to deal with: perhaps this is why resource-strapped courses shy away from investing in them, but they needn’t do so if they consider using suitable artificial surfaces. Those forward-thinking golf venues that have dedicated focus and time on their short game offering have reaped rewards. When we are approached about creating a short game area, we work with customers to clearly define their objectives and conduct a full site survey before designing a bespoke solution. Commercial goals and the potential for return on investment are obviously important influences but so too are considerations such as club ethos, membership profile aspirations, and of course the existing course layout and natural landscape. Only by taking all of these into consideration can we deliver a solution that will deliver against all goals. It’s important to state that the beneficial impacts of a short course or short game area can be realised in numerous ways. Creating a new facility doesn’t have to mean compromising existing tees and greens; in most cases it means creatively using a variety of techniques and surfaces that work in harmony with their surroundings. It’s often beneficial to position a short game