What Are the Characteristics of a Good Golf Course?

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What Are the Characteristics of a Good Golf Course?

Type "golf course near me" into a search engine, and you'll probably get back no shortage of results. For most people, there are several courses within easy driving distance. How can you determine which course is the best?

As you probably already know, not all golf courses are of the same quality. The following seven characteristics of a good golf course will help you determine which is the best facility near you.

Intelligent Planning

When you think of architects, you may think of them designing skyscrapers or shopping malls. Quality golf courses, too, require the insight and planning of an expert architect.

A golf course should not be haphazardly thrown together. An intelligent, experienced course architect knows how to plan a course in which each hole serves as a valuable part of the whole. This lends a sense of cohesiveness to the game.

Although a course of any age may provide this sense of unity among holes, courses that have been around for about a century are often the best examples. Jonathan Tucker of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects explains, "Good design is timeless with many of our classic courses formed during the ‘Golden Age’ of golf architecture in the 1920s."

Varied Holes

Boredom quickly turns a golf game from pleasant to tiresome. A mixture of hole styles keeps the game from feeling redundant.

Variety factors into a golf course in several ways:

  • Hole Style: Rather than snaking your way back and forth across the course with one straight-shot hole after another, you should be treated to a mix of designs, including some doglegs and, perhaps, a few blind shots.

  • Length: It seems simple that some holes should occupy more space than others, but adhering to this basic principle can add much to the enjoyment of a course.

  • Par: Not only should every hole should look different, but each should also play differently. Some should be doable with minimal shots, but others should require four or more.

  • Obstacles: Each hole should have its own unique challenges, such as bunkers, water obstacles, false fronts, and slopes toward or away from the green.

The right amount of variety gives a course a compelling personality that draws you to it again and again.

Reasonable Challenge

The average golfer isn't an expert at the game. Most golfers don't come in under par every time that they play, and they certainly don't play on the pro tour. Therefore, a playable golf course shouldn't be so difficult that only a championship player can handle its trials, twists and turns.

That's not to say that a golf course should be simple. A course with no challenge presents little motivation to improve your game.

The best courses balance difficulty with playability. They stretch you to try new shots and put forth your best effort. However, they are not so discouraging that you no longer want to play the game. Instead of leaving you feeling defeated, they stretch you to take your game to the next level.

Natural Beauty

Renowned architect Alister Mackenzie is famous for claiming, "The course should have beautiful surroundings and all the artificial features should have so natural an appearance that a stranger is unable to distinguish them from nature itself."

Many courses built during the early 20th century's Golden Age are still lauded for their grasp of this ideal. Architects of the time knew to start by selecting attractive locales for their courses. They would then incorporate the features of the landscape into their designs.

A golf course with a natural design works with the lay of the land, not against it. It uses obstacles and bunkers that mesh with the local flora and terrain. A course that is designed in this way is bestowed with a sense of belonging in its surroundings.

Learn more about the art of designing a golf course that fits into the natural landscape in the video below:

Impeccable Maintenance

Yes, some of the best courses were built around 1920. However, they did not stay the best by being halfhearted about maintenance. The only way that a golf course stays in top shape is by receiving regular, thorough maintenance work.

Maintenance is a daily affair. A good golf course is staffed by a professional greens team that knows how to keep the grounds healthy and the playing surface smooth. They mow, roll, rake and irrigate on a regular basis.

The maintenance team considers the off-season one of the most valuable times of the year because it provides a chance to do jobs that are critical to the longevity of the course. At a quality golf facility, the greens professionals are just as busy during the off-season as they are during the on-season.

To get a feel for how much work goes into carefully maintaining a golf course, watch the video below:

Approachable Scheduling

Regular play is a necessity if you want to improve your golf game. Therefore, a good golf course is one where scheduling a tee time shouldn't be a monumental challenge.

Yes, it is exciting to play a once-in-a-lifetime round on one of the world's top-ranked courses. However, you wouldn't want to fight for a tee time there every time that you were in the mood for golf.

For your home course, it is important to select a place where you can snag a tee time just about whenever you'd like. You may want to consider joining a private golf club where you will receive priority scheduling and may have the option for walk-on play.

Comfortable Elegance

Golf is a refined game. There is a standard of etiquette that elevates this sport above many others--or at least, there should be one. The management of a good course sets etiquette standards for those who play there and holds players to those standards. This maintains the classiness of the game and the playing environment.

Classy need not mean stuffy, however. A golf course can be comfortable without sacrificing its standards. The best golf courses are the ones that know how to balance long-held traditions with a modern sense of casual comfort.

Which golf course in your area meets all or nearly all of these characteristics? A good golf course is well-designed, accessible and welcoming. Once you find the best course in your area, you'll be glad to visit it again and again.
Posted: 4/3/2018 12:57:08 PM by Brain Curtin | with 0 comments

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