Fall is a good time to evaluate a golf course and develop a master plan for improvements, reports Rick Phelps, ASGCA, president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA). “Golf courses everywhere are subject to standard wear and deterioration, while others were damaged by floods or scarred by drought this year,” Phelps said. “That makes this a particularly good time for golf course management to review what needs to be done before the next golf season – and those that follow.”

Phelps noted it’s cost effective to develop a master plan to serve as foundation for course maintenance and improvement over the coming years. Such planning can help reduce long-term costs overall and ensures the course has a consistent vision. ASGCA members can provide the insight necessary to help decision-makers understand tradeoffs and make good use of golf course resources.

Some areas of ASGCA-member focus cited by Phelps include:
* Creation of family tees
* Turf reduction leading to water and maintenance savings
* Irrigation system consultation
* Aesthetic and functional improvements to the practice range

“Even a one-day visit by an ASGCA member may provide golf course decision makers with the broad brushstrokes of what is needed to improve the golfing experience and address functional issues,” Phelps said. “The golf architect operates within management’s parameters, understanding some managers want to refine their current layouts while others want to address the changing face of golfers for the long term. 

“For instance, more and more players may not have the time to play 18 holes on each visit to a course. Architects work with course managers to make the course and the game accessible and competitive for everyone. A golfer does not always need to play 18 holes in order to enjoy the game and experience the wonderful benefits of golf,” he continued.

Master Planning: Questions and Answers,” is an ASGCA brochure created to help golf course managers, superintendents, professionals and owners understand the process of developing a master plan and the importance of assessing the typical life expectancies of golf course components.