Golf course architects have varied backgrounds, from greenkeepers and professional golfers, to graduates with landscape architecture degrees.
If you have a passion for golf and design, golf course architecture could be the right career for you.
Subjects which will be useful groundings are:
Being artistic, creative, good with figures and having an understanding of environmental science are valuable attributes. Biology is particularly useful when studying plant science, and chemistry and geology for soil science.
At degree level, the most closely associated subject is landscape architecture and this is a valuable qualification to achieve prior to taking part in the EIGCA’s education programme.
Golf course architects can also follow the path of civil engineering – the planning, earth-modelling, construction, drainage and infrastructure components have golf course design applications – or agronomy – knowledge of geology, soils, plant science, drainage and environmental matters are very useful.
Existing greenkeepers with a keen interest in golf architecture can utilise their greenkeeping skills in the renovation, restoration and remodelling of established golf courses. Linking technical greenkeeping with a flair for design offers added value in the golf design business. It may take longer following this route as you will need to develop drawing and masterplanning skills, as well as technical construction knowledge.
Professional golfers with a keen interest in design can utilise their extensive knowledge of the game. Being a competent golfer does not necessarily translate into being a good golf course architect, but an appreciation of playing strategy and a familiarity with a large number of golf courses is a benefit when the important technical understanding of golf course architecture is studied.
A great start to your career as a golf course architect is to familiarise yourself with the work of prominent architects – many have biographies or have written books on golf course design – to gain an understanding of what being a golf course architect entails.
Studying the ‘classic’ golf course layouts, their routings, strategies and overall design is a must as is visiting courses (not necessarily playing them) to study their architecture and design.
The study of the ‘classic’ course layouts, their routings, strategies and overall design is a must
If you are serious about a career in golf course architecture, create a portfolio to collate your thoughts and photographs on the features of specific holes and golf course layouts - think about the ‘classic’ course layouts, their routings, strategies and overall design. This will allow you to develop your understanding and appreciation of the profession and build on this over time. Visit a variety of courses (not necessarily to play them) and study their architecture and design. If you are considering applying for the EIGCA vocational qualification in golf course design, you will be advised to bring a portfolio to your interview.
To understand more about how to become a golf course architect, read these case studies of how some EIGCA members came into the profession.
Suggested reading for prospective golf course architects: