With Rio Olympics in Sight, Golf Course Renovations Up Nationwide

The Golf Channel isn’t the only place the sport is about to get national exposure. With the Rio Olympics around the corner, the game is being positioned for growth.

Fortunately, more and more facilities are responding by making their courses more inviting. It’s a movement that can help ASBA members – and that has the potential to grow the game.

According to the American Society of Golf Course Architects, ASGCA members have stated they are seeing an increase in proposed and ongoing renovation projects at private clubs and public facilities alike. A recent press release detailed the reasoning behind this.

Course owners and managers who were previously hesitant about taking on small- or large-scale projects have been more likely to move forward in recent months, as interest rates remain near record lows, and they see the long-term benefits of maintaining sustainable, playable facilities for golfers.

“Our members are very busy with renovations right now,” ASGCA President Steve Smyers said. “Clubs are taking advantage of new technology and the knowledge ASGCA members bring to address areas like turfgrass removal, forward tees, bunker removal and smart water usage, leading to greater efficiency all over the course.”

There has been no doubt the drought in California has affected the golf industry, but it’s far from the only way courses have changed and become more eco-friendly. Rand Jerris, USGA’s senior managing director for public services, has noted that overall, courses tend to be leaning toward landscaping changes that lead to a different look and feel.

“The biggest part, Jerris has noted, was changing the mindset of golfers, who had a predisposed view of what a course was supposed to look like and how it was supposed to play. Getting past that, however, often meant users were pleasantly surprised about the playability of a facility.

Golf courses that have completed renovations in recent years are seeing a strong return on investment, according to some experts.

The ASGCA website contains multiple articles citing ongoing or recently completed renovation work by ASGCA members across North America, including:

  • New putting surfaces and grass-faced bunkers by Bill Bergin, ASGCA, for Oaks Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • A redesigned practice putting green and short-game facility by John Harvey, ASGCA, for Ramsey Golf & Country Club, Ramsey, New Jersey.
  • Improvements to greens and bunkers by Todd Eckenrode, ASGCA, at Brentwood Country Club, Los Angeles.

Information on golf course Master Planning and Remodeling is available online from ASGCA by visiting this link.

But renovations aren’t the only way golf is trying to grow. The USGA is only one of several organizations and all are working together to try to increase participation. Programs for beginning golfers have included Drive, Chip and Putt; Get Golf Ready, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, PGA Junior League Golf and The First Tee.

Following the economic decline in 2008, the sport’s participation numbers have been stable, and between 2013 and 2014, there was a one percent increase in the rounds of golf being played. In addition, non-traditional golf experiences, such as the golf theme park, Top Golf, have sprung up to help drive the sport’s comeback.

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