ASGCA members are at the forefront of golf courses renovating for mutiple uses by communities everywhere. The latest example comes from “Golf Course Management” magazine, which highlights the work and thoughts of ASGCA Past President Erik Larsen, Andy Staples, ASGCA, and Craig Schreiner, ASGCA.

The article profiles Staples’ role in the $12 million Rockwind Community Links project in Hobbs, N.M. “Golf…is the thread that connects other activities at Rockwind Community Links, which was previously known as Ocotillo Park Golf Course,” the article states. “It includes open green spaces for events. A surrounding trail system with multiple trailheads. Picnic areas. Then there are those scenic vantage points, which have access to the site’s 5-acre lake.”

Staples has trademarked “Community Links” as the term which describes the use of land for golf and much more to meet community needs.

“GCM” goes on to report:

“Quite honestly, I was looking for a story that could be told that could garner support from all levels of a community, not just those that play golf,” says Staples, 42, noting that the trademark process took nearly two years to complete. “Community Links allows you to sell the brand of golf and all of the great things that come along with the game. We can sell health. Competition. Integrity. Outdoor recreation. And, it can reflect on the community in which it exists.”

Staples’ concept features the exploration of alternative revenue streams other than green fees; expanding facility benefits to increase facility use by non-golfers; emphasizing new golfer development programs for youths; and maximizing the efficient use of water, energy, and fuel.

“No one really ever talks about the social or people aspect of sustainability,” he says.

Erik Larsen, former president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), praises Staples as “a visionary” who is adept at the reduction of irrigated turf. More than a decade ago, Larsen’s fingerprints were all over the development of Eagle Ranch Golf Club in Eagle, Colo., which showcases its own community feel.

“It was a very nice interaction between golf, a stream, a greenway and a trail system that were all intertwined,” says Larsen, in those days a member of the Arnold Palmer Design Co. team. “You’d see moms with strollers, big dogs on the greenway, and guys fishing in the stream. It can be done.”

Staples, whose works include The Golf Club at Sand Hollow Resort, which was once named the No. 1 course in Utah by Golfweek, reels off examples of Community Links’ spirit.

“I’ve found that a deep-rooted connection between a golf course and its citizens and its community is almost always one of the things that’s been a recipe for success,” Staples says. “And I think it’s starting to prove out in places like Bandon Dunes, Sand Hills in Nebraska, and Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin. Pinehurst also comes to mind. When golf is invariably rooted in your community and linked to your community, then it has a better chance of succeeding.

“The idea you have to come in and completely change the facility and spend all kinds of money is not the idea here,” says Staples, whose work at Rockwind Community Links included features such as elevated greens, five sets of tees, coffin bunkers, and rock walls rolling throughout the 7,100-yard course.

“But what I do say is, in order for you to fully embrace the concept, there are things that the owner of the golf course, or the city or the county as owner of the golf course, have to understand. They have to understand that investing in quality recreational facilities is a core value here, it’s a priority, and so that may mean we’ll be looking at upgrading anything that’s been deferred from a maintenance perspective, or possibly making adjustments in the golf course that make it more friendly to non-golfers.”

Fellow golf course architect Craig Schreiner supports Staples’ cause. “I’m just waiting for more concepts like this to come along, because courses are closing. I’m all for whatever it takes. The more people you get on a golf course, the better the chance they end up playing,” Schreiner says.

The complete article can be found here.