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Jason Thurman

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Routing a Subdivision Course
« on: July 11, 2012, 10:36:34 AM »
For the architects:

What does the typical process for routing a subdivision course look like? Is there such things as a "typical" process?

I'm wondering if you're typically given a project in which the land for the course and the land for homes has already been divided and left with the task of routing holes across an already imposed section of land, or if you typically have free range to route holes and then houses are filled in afterwards.

Or perhaps it's a combination of the two and you must work with the land developer to figure out what areas will be for the course and what areas will be for the housing.

What other things have to be considered when routing a subdivision course that the average layperson may not realize or appreciate?
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Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2012, 10:46:47 AM »
Jason,

It happens all ways. We sometimes get called in and see that a land planner has already prepared a land plan giving us a general idea of what they want.  Usually we get a chance to improve it from a golf standpoint.  Every so often, we are offered the job providing we don't change the land plan and routing whatsoever.  I declined one of those once, early in my career, and a name designer took it as offered, and went on to develop several more courses for that same big time developer.

In some rare cases, owners do want the golf to come first.  In places like Atlanta, both can be accomodated on best land, because the golf holes usually work best in the valleys and houses above, where they get views.

One thing most don't consider is that there are broad areas the developer cannot use, and those are where the golf cousre must go.  The typical areas are floodplains, of course.  However, sometimes we are told to  use an area where the topography would make it difficult to get sewers and water lines to work well.  Golf is often used as a buffer between houses and factories, or garbage dumps or other land uses not compatible with houses.  And of course, golf usually provides a buffer to power lines and houses.  For that matter, the golf course often divides the housing types and neighborhoods in a subdivision - often we see apartments/townhouses on the first 400' back from a main highway, then fw, then the single family homes.

Each project is obviously different in its requirements.  I had one (built, now closed) where I worked with a land planner.  I took the first run and showed three concepts - single fw with houses on both sides, double width fw, each with houses on one side, and then one with more of a core course, with only a few fingers of golf getting housing frontage.  I fully expected the developer to want the single fw scheme, but the land planner and he both argued that while they lost immediate frontage, they felt the overall community was better with the double loop feature.  So, who was I to argue?

We also consider the views to golf from streets, and minimizing road crossings for golfers, among other things. 

There's more, but you get an idea.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Bruce Katona

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 11:06:13 AM »
Minimizing Road crossings are the key to a residential course. 

0 road crossings are preferred.
1 is acceptable
1 per nine holes is tolerable.

After that see Jeff's description above.  he hit the nail on the head.

 

Lester George

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 11:14:35 AM »
Ditto what Brauer said.  Saves me the typing.  Thanks Jeff!

Lester

Steve_Lovett

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2012, 11:28:25 AM »
Minimizing Road crossings are the key to a residential course. 

0 road crossings are preferred.
1 is acceptable
1 per nine holes is tolerable.

After that see Jeff's description above.  he hit the nail on the head.

 

As a planner and principal in a planning/architecture/landscape architecture firm I feel comfortable saying that most land-planners don't understand golf and do a lousy job with routings of their own creation. The best residential community golf courses are a collaboration between planner/golf course architect/clubhouse architect from the start of a project. I'm a believer that all compromises between golf & residential can be eliminated through a collaborative design process - so that the quality of golf and value/quality of residential is higher than either the planner or golf course designer could've achieved on their own.

The big rules-of-thumb in my experience are:
1. Sufficiently-wide playing corridors so the golf isn't encroached upon by homes (it's bad for homes and golf). We prefer 400' "corridors"(I hate that term) or basically 200' minimum from centerline of play to homesite property boundary or right of way.
2. Avoid holes that are lined with houses down each side. For many reasons it's better to group holes together and/or to position golf alongside great natural features of a site.
3. Avoid road crossings to the greatest extent possible. I agree that whenever possible it's ideal to have no more than one crossing per nine holes.
4. Position the next tee as close to the last green as possible. This creates the potential for walkability and enhances the flow and feel of the golf course.
5.  Never, never, never, never require the golfer to cross a street to get from the clubhouse to 1st tee, clubhouse to practice area, practice area to 1st tee, or 18th green to clubhouse. There would have to be a super-compelling reason to break this rule.
6. Because we're also clubhouse architects, we also pay a lot of attention to club site circulation, arrival, flow, service/back of house, views & orientation, and operations. If we do it right sometimes a club/course can function with fewer employees and a member or guest's experience feels better. They may not know why, but it's intentional and by design.  

There are other detailed and more technical things that should be paid attention to, but these are the big ones that come to mind from my perspective.


Jeff_Brauer

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2012, 11:35:43 AM »
Lester,

Got your back, bud.

Steve adds some good points.  Sadly, I have broken most at least a few times.  Some developers focus only on the total number of lots facing the golf course, to the exclusion of all else.  The same ones also hate to give up land for almost any amenity.  The same mentality also causes the many crossings, and most of those "indirect crossings" that force the golfer to drive though many house lots to get to the next tee.  Residential road crosssings aren't terrible in moderation, as long as the next tee is directly across the street.

Other land eaters (to the chintzy developers) are the current typical practice to not o have any lots on main loop roads, but one neighborhood entry every few hundred feet, with defined areas of 20-45 units.  One DFW course had you drive along a lotted, 2 lane road to get back to the clubhouse, rather than a boulevard with landscape.

Its also better if the golf clubhouse is on the main road, or on the main loop road easily identified from the turnout (i.e. a pretty straight shot)  Many land planners are now putting the clubhouse off the main hill, figuring they leave those for premium lots, while they can have the golf course create a view with landscaping from the clubhouse.
Jeff Brauer, ASGCA Director of Outreach

Matthew Petersen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2012, 06:17:50 PM »
Minimizing Road crossings are the key to a residential course. 

0 road crossings are preferred.
1 is acceptable
1 per nine holes is tolerable.

After that see Jeff's description above.  he hit the nail on the head.

 

As a planner and principal in a planning/architecture/landscape architecture firm I feel comfortable saying that most land-planners don't understand golf and do a lousy job with routings of their own creation. The best residential community golf courses are a collaboration between planner/golf course architect/clubhouse architect from the start of a project. I'm a believer that all compromises between golf & residential can be eliminated through a collaborative design process - so that the quality of golf and value/quality of residential is higher than either the planner or golf course designer could've achieved on their own.

The big rules-of-thumb in my experience are:
1. Sufficiently-wide playing corridors so the golf isn't encroached upon by homes (it's bad for homes and golf). We prefer 400' "corridors"(I hate that term) or basically 200' minimum from centerline of play to homesite property boundary or right of way.
2. Avoid holes that are lined with houses down each side. For many reasons it's better to group holes together and/or to position golf alongside great natural features of a site.
3. Avoid road crossings to the greatest extent possible. I agree that whenever possible it's ideal to have no more than one crossing per nine holes.
4. Position the next tee as close to the last green as possible. This creates the potential for walkability and enhances the flow and feel of the golf course.
5.  Never, never, never, never require the golfer to cross a street to get from the clubhouse to 1st tee, clubhouse to practice area, practice area to 1st tee, or 18th green to clubhouse. There would have to be a super-compelling reason to break this rule.
6. Because we're also clubhouse architects, we also pay a lot of attention to club site circulation, arrival, flow, service/back of house, views & orientation, and operations. If we do it right sometimes a club/course can function with fewer employees and a member or guest's experience feels better. They may not know why, but it's intentional and by design.  

There are other detailed and more technical things that should be paid attention to, but these are the big ones that come to mind from my perspective.



So what you're saying is that the Sun Cities of the world are your nightmare.

My parents have a winter home in Sun City Grand, west side of Phoenix. The four courses there break all of those rules, except possibly #1 (they are pretty wide). Three of the four have first tees across the street from the clubhouse. Two of the four have 18 green across the street from the clubhouse.

Jeff Shelman

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2012, 03:49:53 PM »
Matthew,

My parents also have a place at Sun City Grand. While I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, the golf also isn't horrible.

I think Cimmaron is the most interesting of the four. The two Granite Falls courses aren't bad. Desert Springs, however, isn't all that good.

Maybe if we're down there at the same time (Christmas perhaps), we can tee it up.

Matthew Petersen

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2012, 04:55:22 PM »
Matthew,

My parents also have a place at Sun City Grand. While I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, the golf also isn't horrible.

I think Cimmaron is the most interesting of the four. The two Granite Falls courses aren't bad. Desert Springs, however, isn't all that good.

Maybe if we're down there at the same time (Christmas perhaps), we can tee it up.

Let me know any time you are around--I live in Phoenix year-round. My parents are generally here November - April, and I don't play too much golf in the winter unless I am out there with my Dad.

The courses aren't terrible, as Sun City-style golf goes. But they sure do have road crossings!

I agree Cimmaron is the best of the five, the other three are all pretty close in my eyes. You can do better in the west Valley, but there are many more courses that are worse out that way than that are better.

Wayne_Kozun

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2012, 10:18:59 PM »
5.  Never, never, never, never require the golfer to cross a street to get from the clubhouse to 1st tee, clubhouse to practice area, practice area to 1st tee, or 18th green to clubhouse. There would have to be a super-compelling reason to break this rule.
St. George's in Toronto, arguably the best in Canada and in some world top 100 lists, violates this rule as the clubhouse is on the west side of Islington Ave and the entire course is on the east side (there is a tunnel under the street).  Apparently the reason for this is that the east side was "dry" when the course was built but the west side was not.

There are also courses where you have to cross an international border  - such as Aroostook Valley in Maine/New Brunswick which was built during prohibition.  The clubhouse was on the Canadian side!

Steve_Lovett

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2012, 11:27:22 PM »
5.  Never, never, never, never require the golfer to cross a street to get from the clubhouse to 1st tee, clubhouse to practice area, practice area to 1st tee, or 18th green to clubhouse. There would have to be a super-compelling reason to break this rule.
St. George's in Toronto, arguably the best in Canada and in some world top 100 lists, violates this rule as the clubhouse is on the west side of Islington Ave and the entire course is on the east side (there is a tunnel under the street).  Apparently the reason for this is that the east side was "dry" when the course was built but the west side was not.

There are also courses where you have to cross an international border  - such as Aroostook Valley in Maine/New Brunswick which was built during prohibition.  The clubhouse was on the Canadian side!

I understand what you are saying - even my club, Timuquana in Jacksonville, has the clubhouse across the street from the golf course (but the road is basically driveway scale and the course/club is circa 1923).

With the topic being routing a "subdivision" course, I will stand by the suggestion that every effort should be made to avoid the disconnect between club/1st tee/18th green/practice area that is created when a subdivision-type road is crossed.

Tim_Cronin

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2012, 02:27:52 AM »
One of the best in this regard is Pine Tree GC in Boynton Beach, where the plan was for the housing to pay for the club's construction. Dick Wilson devised a routing where there were no road crossings, where the much of the housing was on the perimeter, the exception being on the road to and past the clubhouse, and on a short fork branching from it, and where the range and the first and 10th tees and ninth and 18th greens are adjacent to the clubhouse, so are the seventh green and eighth tee (the front and back were filpped before the course opened for play). Even the maintenance facility is positioned so mowers can take a short cut down the residential road to the "other" side of the layout. Pure genius, as is the course.
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Ross Harmon

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2012, 10:17:14 AM »
Dick Even the maintenance facility is positioned so mowers can take a short cut down the residential road to the "other" side of the layout.

I'm not sure I'd like that if I lived on that road!

Matthew Petersen

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Re: Routing a Subdivision Course
« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2012, 05:12:42 PM »
I wrote a bit about the wasteland of poorly routed Sun City courses earlier in this thread, but there is a course out on the west side that breaks the mold. Interestingly, it's one of the "Sun City West" courses, of which there are (I believe) seven and six of them are major offenders in terms of road crossings and tight corridors with houses to either side.

Then there's Hillcrest: https://maps.google.com/maps?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF-8&q=hillcrest+sun+city&fb=1&gl=us&hq=hillcrest&hnear=0x872b4255be4b0dad:0x2c2dfa70427a8a91,Sun+City,+AZ&cid=0,0,3093447705566778642&ei=eoIEUKyICsXhqAHXk82xDA&ved=0CKABEPwSMAA&oi=local_group

It's a "core" course with some homes surrounding, though very few of those even in play for the worst shots. As its name suggests it's clubhouse sits at the high point of the community. It shares an area with the SunDome and extensive rec center for the community.

It's by no means the best golf course on the west side (but it might be the best one not built in the past 15 years), but it has a number of interesting holes, a few greens with very severe (in a fun way, IMHO) green tiers, and is overall really a refreshing feeling type of course given the environment.

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