Golf Course Architecture: Issue 57 - July 2019

47 Photo: credit One thing to avoid like the plague is shallow bunkers. A good rule of thumb is to build bunkers at least three feet deep to contain the dreaded but altogether common thinned or shanked ball. Another thing to avoid is bunkers facing each other on opposite sides of a green. I learned this lesson recently where I conceded to a last-minute request from the club to build an additional bunker to practice long irons toward the body of the range. I cringed on opening day when I witnessed what I can only describe as the golf equivalent of a food fight with golfers in each bunker blading shots towards one another. The bunker was quickly filled in – lesson learned! 2. Variety – All great golf courses have a variety of looks and shot requirements. Why should a short game area be any different? At a minimum, a practice complex should replicate shots one might expect to hit with regularity on the neighbouring course. If space and budget allow, add design features that cater to the needs of different types of players. For example, at Bay Hill we built an elevated ledge adjacent to one of the bunkers with our resident Tour players in mind. This exacting shot gives better players the unequivocal feedback they’re looking for – anything less than the perfect shot won’t hold the mercilessly narrow ledge. Alternatively, we made sure to include a few generous upslopes to hold shots and create confidence for new golfers. In total we built four greens and seven bunkers, every one of them unique in size, shape, and style. 3. Beauty – Form should follow function… to a point. While there are many technical aspects that can and probably should be incorporated into any short game area, don’t lose sight of the overall feel of the finished product. Features should all relate to one another and tie together a cohesive and believable landscape. A good architect will ensure the contours flow naturally through the entire frame to complete the composition. Additionally, if there are native trees within the envelope of the subject property, save them to anchor the short game area and give it the appearance of age. Golfers will appreciate that shade come summertime! 4. Maintenance – For consistency, the short game area should be maintained in the same condition as the rest of the golf course. Green speeds, turf firmness, sand types, and rough heights should all match the conditioning of the main course. Also, make sure to provide enough flat areas on the greens so holes can be At Balsam Mountain Preserve in North Carolina, the driving range doubles as a par-three course Photo: Arnold Palmer Design Company