“The chief consideration that should influence us in making any alterations to a golf course is to give the greatest pleasure to the greatest number. Any change to a course that does not do this is manifestly a failure.”
– Alister MacKenzie
A concept that has somewhat fallen by the wayside over the past century is the notion that golf is meant to be fun. We refer to it as “the game”, yet too often it is treated primarily as a business venture: a way to sell lots, raise property values, or increase revenue, driving the focus away from the main attraction: the game and the ground it is played upon.
At Ross Golf Design, our goal is to help our clients restore the fun element. We do this by providing playing fields that give the most pleasure to the greatest number of golfers.
Each client and user group require a different set of solutions to achieve this goal, but the process often this involves the introduction of multiple teeing grounds for varying skill levels, tree removal, fairway widening, and other such measures. For other clients it may involve the construction of a new practice area, short course, par-3 course, or some other feature that will help to attract and retain new members, juniors, and other beginners.
By no means does the reintroduction of fun involve removing the challenge from the game, though. Occasionally, changes of this sort can be misinterpreted as simplifying or weakening the golf course by the better player. On the contrary, great pleasure is to be had by taking on and conquering a challenging hazard. Players of all levels embrace the challenges that golf provides when the experience is strategic or heroic and not just penal. Our philosophy involves placing hazards in locations where they must be addressed in order to carry out the ideal shot, as opposed to on the perimeter where they only penalize poor shots.
Still, the opportunity to break 80 (or 90, or 100, etc.) for the first time is the type of experience that will lead to return play and a renewed vigor for the game. For that reason, like MacKenzie, we implore our clients to seek solutions that reduce the time spent searching for lost balls, hacking out of ankle-deep rough, and punching out of the trees again and again. By embracing fun, golf can begin to thrive once again.