Golf Course Architecture - Issue 65, July 2021

15 MA I L BOX Dear Editor One of the most obvious effects of the slowdown in golf development that started before the 2007/08 global recession, but was accelerated by it, is the almost total demise of mixed-use golf and housing estates. For several decades, the golf and housing model was the dominant form of course development, with many hundreds of such estates being constructed across the US. But a combination of oversupply, and the economic tsunami, brought such development to a grinding halt, and hasn’t really recovered. I think the golf architecture and construction business, along with its clients in the homebuilding industry, needs to find ways to reinvent the model. The traditional ‘Florida-style’ development, with either houses or ponds dug to provide fill for construction on either side of each hole, has rightly been criticised for producing boring, samey golf. But there is no fundamental reason why a golf course that has housing intermingled with it should be so formulaic and dull. Harry Colt’s St. George’s Hill in England, accepted as the first masterplanned golf and housing development, is anything but dull, and over the 110 years since it was built, there have been plenty of others that are almost as good. I think the biggest problem with housing development golf is the belief that it is frontage onto the course that makes houses sell. This means that houses, like golf holes, will inevitably end up strung out in a linear fashion. Rather, future developments should seek to build the houses in clumps, so that the golf course can have more of a self-contained, core feel to it, and the residents of the housing can build more of a community feel. It seems to me that this is a clear win-win. The changes wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic can’t be ignored. If, as seems likely, we are going to see a continuation of the working from home trend once the pandemic is past, then new housing needs to be built with this in mind – with the provision of home office space likely to acquire increasing importance. Additionally, golf estates have traditionally, in the US, been perceived as the haunt of retirees, with younger families needing to remain closer to places of work. If remote working is on the up, this may well change, and golf estates will need facilities designed to cater more for a younger audience. Finally, we cannot ignore the developing world. In many countries, there are millions and millions of relatively recently emerged middle classes, who are looking for both recreation and decent living quarters for their families. Surely golf estates can offer both things? Jason Bedford Westchester, New York We are delighted to receive letters from readers, and the best in each issue will be rewarded with a golf shirt. Send to 6 Friar Lane, Leicester, LE1 5RA, UK, or email us at April’s Gopher Watch proved quite difficult, as we received less correct entries than we have for quite some time. Surprising, perhaps, as Nairn Golf Club (where Sandy was to be found) has been in the news a lot recently, as the host for this year’s Amateur championship. And that makes this issue a bit historic, as we have our first ever repeat winner. Congratulations to Richard Penley-Martin, secretary of Denham Golf Club, north of London – though he was at Ganton when he won previously! Sandy is obviously in a news-driven frame of mind, this time he’s at a course originally designed by Old Tom Morris and was recently saved by the efforts of its regular players. Think you know where it is? Answers, as usual, to . GOPHER WATCH