Residential golf green design
Independent Golf Tips for the professional at Leisure
Building a residential golf course
When considering a home golf area, you first need to run the numbers to
understand the relative costs of an 18 hole, 9 hole, or single green practice
Over the years I’ve watched acquaintances and friends build
their own golf courses, and it’s a lot of work.
I know Neil Hirsch, and I vividly remember his tales of
horror about building his Eagle Vale golf course in Fairport NY, and I watched
as my good friend Mike Fisher built his own dream course in Henrietta New York.
First, you have to attend a turf management class at Cornell, and there is a
huge amount of work.
Land for your home course
A professional 18 hole course requires approximately 200 acres and a staff of
four full-time groomers (@ $20k/yr.) plus one green management expert (@
$50k/year), for a cost of about $130,000 per year. On the other end of the
spectrum, a single hole can be created with as little as an acre, with very
little maintenance (using artificial turf) for as little as $15,000. The
approximate costs per hole would be:
Fixed Costs per hole
||(@ $10k/acre) $10k-$100k
||(low cost is artificial turf)
||(mound, bench, marker)
||(assume 419 Bermuda)
Variable costs per hole/per year:
||(avg. $7k per year, per hole)
Real grass greens can easily cost $100,000 each, plus you need an expert green
manager to keep it trimmed and healthy. One alternative to natural greens
is artificial turf greens, which are far less expensive, but have several
limitations, most notably a 15-year life and the undesirable propensity for the
green to not accept balls like a natural green.
We decided to go with
Turf Advantage of Stony Point, North Carolina, and they offer a wide variety of artificial
residential putting greens.
See my notes on Residential Golf
fairway turf design
Ensuring success in your home golf course
Creating a residential golf course in a major challenge and it requires the
expert services of landscapers, turf experts and most of all, experienced golf
course designers. A home green is expensive, and fraught with peril.
Your only chance is to find a PGA pro who can design a residential golf green
according to your needs.
||We were lucky to find
Brad Clayton, a PGA master professional and golf book author who had
the connections that we needed to make our home pitch and putt work.
No residential golf will be adequate without expert design, and good
golf course designers are reluctant to work on home greens and pitching
areas. Brad Clayton is also the author of a
book on golf.
Brad is also a great fellow. He lost his own right arm, but he does not
let his handicap prevent him from being one of the best golf teachers I've ever
worked with. Brad also donates his time to teach veteran amputees, a
charitable service that has brought the joy of golf to worthy wounded servicemen
However, we were amazed to have Brad acquire the services of
Rick Robbins, a
world-class golf course designer, who travels the work with Jack Nicklaus in his
Learjet G3, designing some of the world best golf courses.
Talmidge Burgess, Brad Clayton and Rick Robbins
In 1990, Jack Nicklaus asked Rick to join Nicklaus Design
as Senior Design Associate in the Hong Kong office. Rick's responsibilities
included golf course design for his own projects as well as assisting other
design associates, as necessary, in the design and implementation of their
“Their most recent collaboration, Mill Creek Golf Club
in Mebane, North Carolina was named, "Best New Course" in North Carolina by
the golf panel of North Carolina magazine and was named the 6th Best New
Affordable Public Golf Course in the U.S. by Golf Digest Magazine.”
To be successful in your home golf area you must start with
a tabla rasa, and hire experts who know what they are doing. A home
golf putting area is too important to entrust to a beginner.
Start your home course with a blank slate
It's all about finding someone like Brad who has the connections in the golf
world. On your own, you could never convince a world-class golf course
designer to visit your home, as the truly great golf course designers are in
constant demand by the world's best luxury resorts.
Rick Robbins is a master golf course planner
We were extremely honored to have Rick Robbins visit our
ranch and provide expert guidance on all aspects of our custom design.
Rick was able to advise landscapers on the best turf (419 Bermuda in our case),
and the best artificial turf for the putting and chipping areas. Rick as
also able to advise us on the best sand for our traps. Sadly, Rick was
unable to advise us on how to keep the barn cats from using the sand trap as a
litter box, and one of our ranch hands will have to scoop it out every day.
This is my first foray into a residential golf course, and
I cannot recommend Brad Clayton enough. He knows the people who can get
the job done right, and he is worth his weight in gold.
The following section documents the development of our home
L to R: Travis
Carter, Rick Robbins, Brad Clayton,
Talmidge Burgess and Janet Burleson
Laying out the artificial turf green