Greg Muirhead, ASGCA of Rees Jones, Inc., planned and developed the Nantucket Golf Club, located on Nantucket Island, Mass., integrating a high quality golf experience into a diverse natural environment. The 250-acre site is near the southeastern shore of the island, a land mass home to a variety of unique plant, animal, and cultural resources.

Integrating golf into this complex landscape required a thorough understanding of the site’s natural and historic resources. Muirhead and his team undertook a comprehensive site analysis study to identify the location’s numerous environmental attributes, which influenced the final routing of the golf course and the location and design of the course’s facilities. Muirhead also worked with the Massachusetts Audubon Society (MAS), owner of much of the site’s northern land, a partnership which proved to be invaluable in the successful integration of golf within the Nantucket landscape.

Hole 3, Nantucket Golf Club, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Hole 3, Nantucket Golf Club, Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

Several rare plant species were found throughout the site, and to avoid impacting these resources, the golf course was routed around them, or the plants themselves were excavated and relocated to other areas of the site. The golf course was also designed to accommodate vegetative communities and wetlands, prime habitats for two of the rarest and challenged bird species.

Based on results of prior studies conducted on the island, the project site was suspected to possess both pre-historic and historic period archaeological resources. Survey work done by Muirhead identified potentially significant areas, which were then either preserved in undisturbed condition or carefully excavated under the supervision of archaeologists.

The final plan for the Nantucket Golf Club harmoniously blended the architect’s desired golf experience with the site’s unique environmental characteristics, minimizing, and even avoiding, impacts on plant and animal species. The site maintained 98 percent of its acreage as impervious open space, and rare plant species and grassland communities were actually enhanced, thereby improving the overall animal habitat. The course is an excellent example of combining world-class golf facilities with unique natural environments.