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“In addition to providing a beautiful

golf experience for residents and

guests, the course is a green space

buffer to environmental areas,

including wetlands and a very sensitive

black water stream. The ponds in the

development have been designed

to serve multiple purposes: strategic

features within the golf design,

stormwater management to the

community and an irrigation source for

the course,” he says. “The result was a

golf course integrated with residential

development areas to provide

enhancement value while maintaining

the best possible golf experience and

reasonable development costs.”

Among the community—which

is largely retirees—it’s not just

golfers who benefit. “Golf anchored

the project,” says Love. “But the

environment can be enjoyed by

all. The course has protected

topography and natural features

that lend character to the area, and

extended green space back into

the community. And the clubhouse

provides amenities such as a pool

and social activities that bring the

local population together.”

This role of a golf club as a focal point

for the community is also driving a

trend towards courses reopening.

“People want their golf courses

back,” says ASGCA Past President

Tom Clark, ASGCA, a principal of

Ault, Clark & Associates. “In addition

to restoring the premium on their

property prices, they recognize

that a golf course can tie the whole

development together.”

In addition to two projects for

new golf courses within residential

developments, Clark is currently

working on four projects to reopen golf

courses in established communities.

One of those is at the

Beacon Hill

development in Leesburg, Virginia, a

suburb of Washington, D.C. In 1999,

Clark created the original 27-hole

routing, before the developer handed

the project to a different group for

completion. A colorful history of

changes in ownership eventually saw

the golf course fall out of operation in

the mid-2000s, despite local efforts to

keep it maintained.

“When the course was here, there

was a better sense of community,” says

Terry Allen, one of the homeowners at

Beacon Hill. “We would have a Friday

afternoon couples’ match, and then

all drive our carts over to one of our

homes to socialize afterwards. There

was much more interaction among the

people here.”

Allen and a group of fellow

homeowners have been working to

find a way of getting the golf course

back. They have generated interest

from a variety of potential operators,

and are hopeful to have now identified

one that could see them reopen the

course within the next two years.

Clark has developed revised plans

that will give them a practical route

to getting 18 holes back to operation.

This will begin with clearing the

brush that has grown around the

perimeter of the course, then re-

seeding and sprigging. He’s also

recommending tweaks to the design

to broaden the appeal and give it a

better chance of long-term success.

“When I first visited the completed

course, I was amazed at how deep

they’d built the bunkers—they were

10-15 feet deep in places. They had

left all the streams open and created

what was a very difficult target golf


“While I personally like a difficult

golf course,” says Allen, “from a

business standpoint, I understand

the need for it to be softened. Making

Beacon Hill a more playable course is

best for everyone.”

Again, it’s not just the golfers within

the community who will benefit.

“The most attractive thing about

the course is that it is absolutely

beautiful,” says Allen. “It has streams

and ponds, elevation change, it’s

wooded and there are hawks and

deer everywhere.”

Clark’s new plan also provides the

homeowners with the option of using

some of the land for other activities.

“I picked a best 18 that will make

a really nice par-72 course. But it

leaves space for a short course to be

developed, as well as nature trails and

a ball field for the homeowners.”

Lessons of a difficult decade for the

housing market have been learnt,

and developers are adapting their

business plans to find a sensible

balance for their projects.

In Millsboro, Delaware, Lennar

Corporation felt that having a golf

element was crucial to the success of


Plantation Lakes

project, even in its

earliest stages. They wanted to market

a golf club membership to people who




By Design

ASGCA Past President Tom Clark has developed a plan that will help get the

golf course at Beacon Hill back into operation