Mike Benkusky, ASGCA, recently wrote in his newsletter (available through www.mjbgolfdesign.com) on the “best time to be involved in golf design.” Benkusky claims that time is now, with the example of work he is doing with the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Park District.

Here is the complete text of Benkusky’s piece.

During our ASGCA meeting in May, I heard a speaker proclaim that this is, “The best time to be involved in golf design.” For a moment I thought, “What’s this guy smoking?” Then he explained his point and it became clear to me, as well.

The talked centered on how golf courses are, should, and will take advantage of a golf course architect in the near future. It just makes sense in the marketplace. You have virtually no new competition coming into an area because new golf development has all but stopped. Therefore, existing courses will need to upgrade soon to stay in touch with, or ahead of their current competitors.

This is especially true for a new client of mine, Arlington Lakes Golf Club. ALGC is owned and operated by the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Park District. The golf course is a short, 5,400 yard par 68 layout that was built in 1976. It is the only regulation course owned by the Park District, they also have a nine-hole par 3 course and a practice range.

Being in a Chicago suburb, the course has the advantage to draw from a large market. So this short course, which charges an 18-hole rate of $29 to its residents, gets over 39,000 rounds per year. That allows it to break even, or even have a surplus most years. The golf course could just stand on its merits, continue to make money, and serve the community. But they have chosen this opportunity to look over the golf course and see where we can make things better and more efficient.

As we go through the Master Plan process over the next couple months, we will begin by looking at the golf course operations and identify the potentials of where they can attract new golfers. At ALGC, the opportunities are endless. At 5,400 yards, it has the bones in place to become attractive to beginners, juniors, and women. It also has four greens that return to the clubhouse, so by looking at routing adjustments we can create the opportunity to play three-hole loops on one nine. Finally, we can also talk to the current golfers and find out what they like and dislike about the course, and make improvements to keep them happy and continuing to enjoy the course.

As with all renovation projects, this one will be exciting. With many opportunities, I’m hopeful we can create a golf course that could serve as a model for getting more people involved in the game of golf.