Existing Courses

Course renovation is an important part of the services provided by ASGCA members and is in high demand. And why not? There are about 15,000 golf courses in the U.S., with thousands more around the world. “Renovation” is a broad term that typically refers to any alterations to an existing golf course. ASGCA is more specific when addressing changes to courses. There are generally four renovation categories that each have different levels of work involved.


Making changes to an existing course that also involves changes to the original routing of the holes. This may mean shifting two or three holes slightly, all the way to a complete “blow-up,” starting the entire design over but on the same property.


General upgrading of older courses but without re-routing the holes. It can be as simple as working on a few bunkers or adding tees for length, to completely redoing almost every aspect of the course features.


Changes to older – often historic – courses that return the holes and features as closely as possible to their original design. Most often, these are courses from golf’s Golden Age, designed originally by noted architects.


The simplest and fastest change to an existing course, changing the type of turf on greens, tees or fairways without significantly altering the design of the hole. For example, conversion from bent grass on greens to Bermuda grass.

Some common reasons include:

  • Age of many components that must be repaired or replaced. (See the ASGCA produced “Life Cycle Chart”)
  • Reduction in water use & improvement of water quality
  • Deterioration of turf quality, especially putting surfaces
  • Lack of length for today’s players and equipment
  • Safety issues for players or adjacent property owners
  • Excessive cost of maintenance
  • Loss of members or public rounds due to competitors in better condition
  • Growth of trees over time affecting strategy and turf health
  • Desire to restore classic courses to their original design
  • The need to change turf types that are better suited to area climate conditions

If faced with these or other challenges, consider how best to conduct a successful renovation. A “successful renovation” cures the identified issues, achieves the goals set for the work, is done on time and on budget, and produces player satisfaction.

  1. Select the golf course architect – The person with the experience to work with you through the process. ASGCA members have the background to lead this process.
  2. Gather information – Topography, property boundaries, location of existing drainage pipes, irrigation system layout and aerial photos are among the good information to have.
  3. Review the existing facility – The architect, owner/manager and key staff members should all participate in making a course assessment.
  4. Set project goals – Budgets, length of time of course closure and intended renovation result should be addressed.
  5. Identify and discusses each issue – Often, a “Problem Identification Plan & Report” will be produced by the golf course architect that locates and describes all golf course issues.
  6. Recommend ways to address each issue – A “Recommended Solutions Plan” should be produced that shows how the golf course architect proposes to focus on each issue.
  7. Secure preliminary cost estimates and schedule – The golf course architect should produce an “Order of Magnitude” cost estimate for fixing all items from the “Problem ID Plan” and an estimated work schedule.
  8. Review information – All stakeholders to decide the scope of work realistically based on the budget and time required.
  9. Create a “Long Range Master Plan – This document illustrates how the changes can be made over time
  10. Draw plans of change – The golf course architect draws plans that graphically show the changes to be made.
  11. Get bids for the work – Send the plans to qualified builders for bids to perform the work.
  12. Review bids & select builder – Review the proposed changes and contractor bids with owners, key staff and members to secure final approval.
  13. Begin the renovation work – Make sure the golf course architect and superintendent are actively involved with the builder and owner throughout the project.

Establishing and executing a program similar to the process shown here – combined with the leadership of an experienced golf course architect – will lead to a successful renovation.

If you are considering any renovation to your course, involving an experienced golf course architect is an essential step to success. An architect’s ability to put all the pieces of a complex project into perspective will help the owner define and realize his goals. Here are some of the ways an ASGCA member helps with renovation projects:

  • Initial assessment of existing conditions
  • Production of “Problem Identification & Recommended Solutions Plans”
  • Provide routing plans of alternative designs for remodeling
  • Help locate and assemble historical background information and plans for restorations
  • Prepare plans and specifications for the work to be performed
  • Assist setting schedules and budgets
  • Provide lists of qualified builders and assist in bidding and contractor selection
  • Make presentations to club members and/or public officials regarding the plans and goals for renovations
  • Consult on operational and agronomic issues related to design
  • Oversee the construction process by field inspections
  • Develop long-range master plans for the facility that will provide guidance for operations and future maintenance
  • Conduct annual facility consulting reviews to keep the owners/managers focused on the long-range goals
  • Consult on environmental issues, such as water use reductions, water quality standards, natural features protection and resource preservation
  • Serve as the central resource for communications about renovation matters

These are just some of the roles an experienced golf course architect may provide to renovation projects. Utilize the information on this site about ASGCA members and their qualifications when choosing a golf course architect for your project.

Course Renovation Articles

The following articles have been written by various ASGCA members and other experts in the golf industry and provide further information about course remodeling and renovation efforts. Many of the articles focus on different aspects of various course remodeling projects and offer well-informed perspectives on a wide range of remodeling issues.

Presentations & Videos

ASGCA looks forward to providing various presentations assembled by our experienced members that can help people understand the many components involved in remodeling a golf course. As they become available, ASGCA will post various PowerPoint slides, video clips and more that we believe can aid future remodeling initiatives.

We currently offer four short video clips to help provide you with additional information about cost factors, finance plans, expected benefits and building support for a renovation effort. These video clips are made possible through a grant from The Toro Company and are taken from the larger 45-minute DVD titled “Excellence Restored: A Guide to Golf Course Renovation”.

The DVD is available for purchase for those interested in learning more about the necessary steps in preparing for a golf course renovation. The DVD also includes helpful case studies of recent renovations at Naperville Country Club and Riviera Country Club. For more information about course remodeling, be sure to contact an ASGCA member, email ASGCA or call 262-786-5960.