Golf Course Architecture: Issue 57 - July 2019

46 G olfers have largely embraced the importance of the short game’s role in scoring. Stats confirm the most important real estate is the last 100 yards of any golf hole; approximately two-thirds of one’s overall strokes occur within this zone. It’s no wonder that the popularity of short game practice areas is on the rise, catapulting from afterthought to must- have amenity. While it’s hard to quantify the financial returns of a dedicated space for short game improvement, it’s increasingly challenging to compete in the golf industry without one. I’ve seen first-hand how the addition of a proper short game facility can be leveraged as a recruitment tool for collegiate golf programmes and club managers competing for new members. These ‘alternative’ golf offerings are attractive to our time-strapped culture and provide a casual setting to learn the game’s finer points. While the demand is undoubtedly there, not all short game areas are created equal. If your course is debating the addition of such a facility, there are more than a few important things to consider before putting a shovel in the ground. As a golf course architect, here are my eight essentials for a successful short game area. 1. Safety – It doesn’t matter how great your practice area is if someone working on using their wedge’s bounce gets beaned by an errant shot. Ample space should be provided to allow a margin of error for less-than-perfect shots from less-than-perfect golfers. THAD LAYTON The art of practice Thad Layton outlines his eight essentials for a short game area INS IGHT