Andy Staples, ASGCA, owner and Principal Architect of Staples Golf Resource Group is set to launch his first “Community Links” concept in Hobbs, N.M. Ocotillo Park Community Links is set to invigorate the city’s golf course, implementing design practices to reinforce its link to the surrounding community.
The primary focus of the plan is to attract youth and beginners to golf by redesigning the existing 18-holes golf course that incorporates family tees, expand the practice facility and add a 9-hole executive course with a SNAG facility. Additional elements such as walking trails, trail heads with rest areas and other outdoor spaces within the property have been included to increase use of the facility by the non-golfing community.
“This course is not unlike many older municipally owned courses across the country,” says J.J. Murphy, city of Hobbs city manager. “The course is deteriorating before our eyes, and, people are just not playing golf like they did in years past. This concept provides a complete paradigm shift as to how the City’s course will be viewed within the community and how it will be utilized by its residents.“
The City had begun a comprehensive search for ideas to bring players back to their course while exploring responsible ways to invest into their aging facility. The City knew something had to be done, but had little support from around the community since the facility continued to lose money. This was before learning of Staples Golf and the Community Links concept.
“When we heard the vision that Andy had for how our golf course could be transformed into something other than your regular ol’ local municipal golf course, we immediately became intrigued,” Murphy continues. “Now that we’ve had a chance to see the vision begin to come to life, there’s an excitement for this course that I have not seen before. I absolutely love how this golf course will begin to bring our community together around the game of golf.”
Staples was hired by the City to explore ways to improve the facility which included a full analysis of the course and its infrastructure. After a full inventory of the course was completed, he presented the City with series of proposals that supported the need for improvements. Among his ideas was the concept of utilizing the golf course as a center point for community development.
“Many courses are looking for reasons to upgrade their facility, but for a variety of reasons, aren’t able to garner the support to do it,” says Staples, a longtime supporter of sustainable golf practices and the visionary behind the “Community Links“ concept. “The concept of a Community Links gives a municipality a verifiable reason to invest in their facility. If it improves the life in a particular city and increases use in a deteriorating asset, why wouldn’t they do it?”
Set to begin construction by the end of 2013, Staples has been able to integrate all areas of his no-nonsense design philosophy. The plan keeps overall turf acreage to a minimum, integrates a minimal irrigation delivery system that utilizes the City’s effluent water system, has chosen drought tolerant grasses and keeps the overall focus on how the course can be maintained efficiently.
The design of the course has also given Staples a chance to implement a philosophy that has been a long-time favorite of his. Reminiscent of classic courses on the eastern seaboard of the U.S., the design utilizes wide open fairway with multiple options of play, simple, grass faced bunkers and “fill-pad” style green complexes. These features are planned to play with the golfer’s depth perception and will all be done by not dramatically changing the flat nature of the site.
“My focus is to create an interesting, fun golf course that feels dramatically different than other courses in the area, “ Staples explains. “And, by fully integrating the community aspect into the plan, it only gives the project a better chance to succeed. I firmly believe Golf should be shared by more people in the country, and we plan to make as large of impact as possible for the City of Hobbs. When we pull it off, it’ll be pretty cool.”