EVQGCD - EIGCA Vocational Qualification in Golf Course Design

Educating future and current golf course architects is one of the fundamentals which underpin EIGCA’s existence. EIGCA is committed to providing an education programme that equips aspiring golf course architects with the skills, knowledge and practical experience necessary to secure a career in golf course design. This commitment is realised through the EIGCA Vocational Qualification in Golf Course Design (EVQGCD), the world’s only professional qualification in golf course design.

Applications are now closed for the 2024 intake of students

Who is the EVQGCD designed for?

This qualification is aimed at those serious about pursuing a career in golf course design. It is not designed for hobbyists or anyone with a passive interest in learning how to design or re-design all or part of a golf course.

Historically, the most successful graduates of this course are either:

  1. Graduates of a university degree in a related subject, such as: landscape architecture; physical geography; or civil engineering. Graduates of these disciplines are well-equipped to grasp the technical terminology and fundamental design process which help make the process of golf course design more intuitive.

  2. Experience in the golf industry, including working in golf course construction, or a trainee-type role with a golf course architect.

If your academic or practical background does not match the above, it does not mean you will not be able to complete the course. Passion, perseverance, and a strong aspiration for a career as a golf course architect contribute to success.

The EVQGCD enrols a limited cohort of students every two years. A minimum of six to a maximum of eight students are accepted onto Year One, from which historically 67 to 85% of students graduate.

Course structure

Students in the field

This two-year course is a blend of in-person workshops and online learning divided into four modules (see below for course content), each spanning 6-7 months.

Each module is led by an experienced golf course architect, some of the most senior within the EIGCA membership. The Programme Manager, Dr. Sergio Carballo, is a recent graduate of the course who is dedicated to guiding students through their learning journey with EIGCA.

Each module begins with an in-person workshop where students meet and spend a few days under the guidance and tutelage of experienced architects. These mandatory workshops connect the online learning with its practical application. While the first four workshops take place in the UK, the fifth is solely for presentations of the final design projects at the end of Year Two, and could be held anywhere in Europe.

The online learning content, created and presented by experienced architects, helps students build their knowledge for the practical assessments and essays. Delivered via a state-of-the-art online platform with an app, access to the content is available whenever and wherever the students want to study.


Students should anticipate needing to have finances in place for upwards of £10,500 for the two-year EVQGCD course.

  • For students working for an EIGCA member, the core cost is £8,500
  • For students mentored by an EIGCA member in Year Two, the core cost is £9,500

See below under Practical application of studies for information on the difference between being employed or mentored.

Additional expenses for the mandatory workshops (in the UK) and final project presentation (which may be anywhere in Europe) are estimated to be in the region of £2,000 for accommodation, plus travel.

Payment is in stages over the two-year course. All students pay £4,675 for Year One. The balance due for Year Two, is:

  • Employed students pay £3,825
  • Mentored students pay £4,825

The accommodation fees for the workshops (one workshop per module plus the final design project presentation) are payable to the venues and are not part of the core fee.

Included in the fee:

  • Access to a state-of-the-art online learning platform – available on a desktop, and phone and tablet via an app
  • All the learning content, accessible 24-hours a day
  • Access to a dedicated Programme Manager throughout the course
  • Four in-person workshops in the UK to meet fellow students and senior golf course architects
  • One in-person workshop to present the final design project to two senior golf course architects (which could be anywhere in Europe)
  • A mentor (if not employed by an EIGCA member in Year Two)
  • Invitations to attend EIGCA events with opportunities to network with golf course architects and suppliers to the industry
  • Complimentary membership (Candidate for Membership grade) of EIGCA while studying Year Two
  • Access to a network of golf course architects in 25 countries

Note: Payment for each module must be made in full before the learning materials can be accessed. Non-payment puts the student’s place on the course in jeopardy, with the risk of expulsion.

Subjects covered

The course comprises four modules, each of approximately 6-7 months in duration.

Module 1

  • History of golf course architecture
  • Golf course layout design (Part 1)
  • Golfing strategy
  • Drawing skills

Module 2

  • Golf course layout design (Part 2)
  • Planning
  • Agronomy (Part 1)
  • Site assessment
  • Detailed design
  • Agronomy (Part 2) – selection of grasses

Module 3

  • Drainage
  • Irrigation
  • Ecology and the environment (Part 1)
  • Contract Administration

Module 4

  • Construction technology
  • Resort Masterplanning
  • Ecology and the environment (Part 2)
  • Golf course management

Practical application of studies

The practical application of what is taught throughout the course is vital.

While not mandatory, on-the-job training as an employee of an EIGCA member, or mentored by an EIGCA member, is recommended in the Foundation Year One. However, this becomes compulsory in Year Two.


If not employed by an EIGCA member, students may apply for a mentor through EIGCA’s Student Attachment Programme. This programme assists in finding a mentor within the Institute’s membership, however, it is the student’s responsibility to secure a mentorship before being allowed to progress to Year Two.
Note: Mentored students are subject to a £1,000 payment in addition to the course fee which must be paid before advancing to Year Two.

Students are required to spend 2-3 days each month with their mentor to learn about the practicalities of golf course design, and will usually include visits to ‘live’ projects.

Whether employed or mentored, students will be exposed to a range of tasks which complement the course content, including:

  • Drafting experience (hand-drawing or computer-aided)
  • Site appraisal & analysis techniques / site visits
  • Masterplanning (layout design, project phasing)
  • Planning application processes
  • Detailed design (greens, tees and bunkers)
  • Drainage design
  • Letter writing
  • Report writing
  • Measurement of quantities
  • Preparation of bill of quantities
  • Preparation of tender documents & specification
  • Inspection visits to construction sites
  • Contract management training

Assignment grading

The EVQGCD comprises a Foundation (Year One) and Advanced Golf Course Design (Year Two), each with two modules.

There is no award or official recognition if the student does not progress to Year Two. If a student passes Year One and progresses onto Year Two, they automatically step on the first rung of EIGCA membership and are entitled to use the designation Candidate for Membership (CfM). If the student subsequently fails to graduate or withdraws from the course, the CfM designation is rescinded.

Foundation (Year One)

A 50% pass mark applies to all assignments (essays and design projects). One re-submission per assignment is permitted which is capped at a maximum 50% grade.

Students averaging 60% or above across all assignments automatically progress to Year Two (subject to confirmation of employment with / mentorship by an EIGCA member) and payment of the associated course fee.

Students averaging 50-59% across all assignments may apply for admission to Year Two of the next course intake. To be considered for re-admission, the student must either re-take the module/s with the greatest negative impact on their overall mark or demonstrate an improvement in their knowledge or skill by completing a new assignment – as advised by the EIGCA Education Board.
Note: as the course is run every two years, the next Year Two intake will be two years away.

Students failing to achieve a minimum of 50% on any assignment will have failed Year One and will not be eligible to progress to Year Two without repeating Year One.
Note: as the course is run every two years, the next Year One intake will be 12 months away.

Grades from Year One carry over to Year Two and contribute to the final grade.

Advanced Golf Course Design (Year Two)

Just as in Year One, a 50% pass mark applies to all assignments (essays and design projects). One re-submission per assignment is permitted which is capped at a maximum 50% grade.

Students averaging 60% or above across all assignments automatically graduate from the course and are awarded one of the following:

  • EVQGCD Graduate with Distinction
  • EVQGCD Graduate with Merit
  • EVQGCD Graduate

Graduates who choose to remain in EIGCA membership, retain their Candidate for Membership status and have earned the right to use one of the following:

  • Candidate for Membership (CfM) - EVQGCD Graduate with Distinction
  • Candidate for Membership (CfM) - EVQGCD Graduate with Merit
  • Candidate for Membership (CfM) - EVQGCD Graduate

Students failing to achieve a minimum of 50% on all Year Two assignments, or who withdraw from the year, may apply to re-take Year Two in the next intake. Re-admission is subject to availability of a place with those already part of the next intake given priority.
Note: as the course is run every two years, the next Year Two intake will be two years away.

Course Dates

The next intake is in March 2024 (date to be confirmed).

Key dates for the application process are:

  • 22nd November 2023: applications open to waiting list
  • 24th November 2023: applications open to the public
  • 4th December 2023: Deadline for all applications
  • 22nd December 2023: Applicants informed whether they are offered an interview or not
  • 5th January 2024: Interview date and time confirmed to successful applicants
  • 15th and 16th January 2024: Interviews
  • 26th January 2024: Interviewees informed whether offered a place on the course or not

Last updated: 1st January 2024

Testimonial from a recent graduate

I am lucky enough to have a landscape architecture background and to have already worked in a golf course architecture office so a lot of the technical aspects I was already familiar with. I have also played a lot of golf and I think that being a keen golfer, plus having some sort of architectural background definitely helped me a lot.

What I found the most interesting was to learn about the history of golf course architecture, the strategic elements of design and to be able to discuss and argue with teachers and students of differing opinions.

I was surprised with the amount of time we had to dedicate to the course. I definitely underestimated it.

Working a full time job and doing the course was not easy. At one point, most, if not all weekends and evenings were spent working on the assignments we were tasked to do.

The difficulty and time needed to complete the course makes it much more of an achievement once you have completed it. It would not have the same gravitas if it took little to no effort.

Unfortunately I was in the middle of my course when COVID hit so the second half of my course was very limited in terms of interaction between students and teachers but this was no one's fault.

At the end of the day, I am very happy that I took part and completed the course. I definitely feel like I am a better golf course architect for it.

Michael Harradine CfM

Testimonial from a recent graduate

The EIGCA EVQGCD is a great learning experience and a valuable grounding for a potential career in golf course design. The course covers all the elements required for a future career and offers a great way to test and expand your skills through working on practical, real world case studies and design projects. With input from a wide range of architects and industry professionals throughout the different modules it is also a great way to widen your perspective of golf course design styles and opinions by interacting with architects and industry experts that have varied experiences and design philosophies.

All of the associated EIGCA events that you will be able to attend are also a fantastic opportunity to meet people from across the industry and learn more about the companies, trend and developments within golf course design and construction.

Some understanding of golf course design principles, construction and/or maintenance is greatly beneficial going into the course and any prior experience is valuable as being a largely remote and part-time/additional learning program it can seem daunting. But the course offers a lot of support if required both from those running the course and through access to an experienced mentor.

Be ready to do a lot of reading, immersing yourself in historical and modern texts ranging from the original design theories of the golf course pioneers to modern agronomy and spending a lot of time looking at topographical plans. It can be very time consuming, and I’m sure you’ll spend nights thinking about whether you’ve chosen the right routing and strategy for the 4th hole but it is very rewarding and hopefully will stand you in good stead going forward into a successful career in golf course design.

Tom Kelly CfM

Golf Course Design
Reasons to join