International expansions and North American “reinventions” are driving an uptick in projects, with sustainability and practice facilities getting special attention.
At a press conference at the 2014 Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla., Rick Robbins, ASGCA, President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) joined other ASGCA members in reporting increasing activity by golf course developers and decision-makers.
“The global recession slowed activity creating new courses and renovating existing ones,” said Robbins, whose work includes projects throughout the United States and Asia. “But rock-bottom interest rates and worldwide interest in golf have golf course developers looking at projects all over the globe.
“ASGCA members are working on projects in both hemispheres, from countries with an expanding middle class to those trying to drive increased tourism,” Robbins noted. “In North America, many courses and clubs have strengthened their balance sheets and are playing catch-up on capital investments that were put off several years ago. They’re looking at how they can address irrigation, drainage, turf and other issues, and simply adapt to a golfing public that has changed a great deal.”
Robert McNeil, ASGCA, reported expanding activity on golf’s municipal side. “Municipal decision-makers are looking to improve cash flow and increase rounds. Many are looking at various forms of renovation,” said McNeil, a Rhode Island-based golf course architect. “They also know that golf courses can be part of the solution as they address issues like stormwater management and other water issues.”
Jason Straka, ASGCA, noted that sustainability is on the mind of everyone in the golf industry. “Golf courses continue to respond to society’s need for sustainable development,” said the Columbus, Ohio-based architect. “Those involved in new golf courses and existing ones are unlocking the potential of golf courses to provide everything from carbon sequestration to tax revenue.”
Lester George, ASGCA, of Richmond, Va., detailed three award-winning practice facilities that he and other ASGCA members have developed that illustrate how golf facilities see practice areas as essential to attracting and retaining golfers. “Today’s golfers are pressed for time and can’t always get on the golf course so more and more of them are turning to the practice facility,” George said. “But the facility needs to be for creative shot-making and not just ball-hitting.”