Golf Course Development

How much space do you need for an 18-hole golf course?

A good quality 18-hole golf course generally needs about 70-90 hectares but it may be possible to proceed on smaller sites – depends on whether other facilities are proposed, for example – residential units, hotel/spa wellness etc.

How long does it take to build a course from scratch, and then be ready for play?

From experience, we know that a course which is built on a difficult site in the UK, such as landfill, mineral waste deposits and reclaimed land, always takes longer to establish; sometimes up to 30 to 36 months from starting construction. On good agricultural land in Northern Europe, it is possible to open a course for play 18 to 24 months after starting construction. In Southern Europe, North Africa, Latin America, and in other arid climates on a reasonable site, it is possible to establish a course within 18 to 24 months from the start of construction to the opening for play, depending on the scope of the construction works.

Design Techniques

How much CAD do you use and how much is done by hand?

CAD is an integral part of our design process. We use PCs for illustration purposes, photo-manipulation, photo-montage, quantity calculation and presentation drawings. We always prepare initial design concepts by hand because, in our opinion, it allows greater flexibility for flair and creativity in relation to existing site characteristics.

Prospective Golf Course Architects

How do I become a golf course architect?

Golf course architecture is a difficult profession to enter. The labour market for golf course architects is unregulated, uncertain and small in comparison to other professions. Nonetheless, for those who succeed, golf course architecture can provide an occupation, which is both intellectually and economically rewarding. Routes of entry into golf course architecture include landscape architecture, greenkeeping and professional golf. Cornish and Whitten in their 1998 book, "Golf Course Design", note that a 1991 study of the academic background of all members of the American Society of Golf Course Architects found that the largest proportion (53%) of members had landscape architecture degrees.

Jonathan Gaunt is a formally qualified landscape architect. For anybody considering a career in golf course architecture, we offer the following advice:

  1. Obtain a degree in a relevant academic field such as landscape architecture or civil engineering.
  2. Obtain a relevant post-graduate qualification in golf course architecture, through EIGCA.
  3. Get relevant work experience in golf course construction; continue to update your detailed knowledge of golf, its history, the great courses and key architects; maintain an ability to play golf to a reasonable standard; develop a particular speciality, which will set you apart from others in the golf design labour market. Ultimately, the successful golf course architect must have a broad range of knowledge in both science and arts disciplines and important core skills such as computer literacy, financial management and presentation techniques.

Contact the European Institute of Golf Course Architects for details on its Professional Diploma course (tel: +44 (0)1483 891831), or email Julia Green on: julia@eigca.org

I am a student of golf course architecture. Please can you advise me on the techniques that you use to design golf courses?

We receive numerous requests for information from students of golf course architecture, greenkeeping and related subjects. We are keen to encourage students but it is increasingly difficult for us to answer individual requests. We hope that the following information will help by signposting you to relevant subject areas, publications and websites. This information presents an indicative list; in no way should it be considered as definitive.


R Graves & G Cornish - Golf Course Design
ISBN 0-471-13784-7

M Hurdzan The Golf Course – Planning, Design, Construction and Maintenance
ISBN 0-419-12250

Agronomy, Greenkeeping and Greens Construction:
J Perris & R Evans (eds) - The Care of the Golf Course
ISBN 1-873431-19-8

J Arthur – Practical Greenkeeping
ISBN 0-90-7583040

J Beard – Turfgrass Science & Culture
ISBN 0-13-933002-X

Given the importance of the USGA Green Section recommendations on greens construction, see also:  



G Cornish & R Whitten – The Architects of Golf
ISBN 0-06-270082-0 (ed)

Aspects of Golf Course Architecture 1889-1924 – F Hawtree
ISBN 0-907186-27-0

F Hawtree - Colt & Co
ISBN 0-9517793-0-3

The Spirit of St Andrews – A MacKenzie
ISBN 1-886947-00-7

Golf Has Never Failed Me – D Ross
ISBN 1-886947-10-4

The Course Beautiful – A Tillinghast
ISBN 0-9651818-0-4

The Golden Age of Golf Design – G Shackelford
ISBN 1-886947-31-7