Careers in golf – vocational qualification in golf course design

The EIGCA Vocational Qualification in Golf Course Design (EVQGCD) is the only education programme of its kind. It is the only professional qualification in golf course design available in the world.

This two-year course equips students with a basic understanding of golf course design and provides the knowledge on which to launch a career in golf course architecture.

Graduates of the EVQGCD are automatically admitted into EIGCA at the Candidate for Membership grade.

Who is this course for?

Christoph Staedler and David Williams marking Giulia Ferroni's MDP

The EVQGCD is for anyone serious about pursuing a career in golf course design, wherever they are based in the world. The time and work commitment needed to successfully complete the two-year course requires dedication and only the most determined to be a golf course architect will successfully complete the course.

History of the programme indicates that the most successful candidates profile as:

  1. Graduates of a university degree in a related subject, such as:
    • Landscape architecture
    • Physical geography
    • Civil engineering
    Candidates who have studied these academic disciplines are best placed to understand technical terminology and the basic design process. They find it easier to apply this training more intuitively to the process of golf course design than if a different discipline has been studied.
  2. Experience in the industry, such as:
    • Shadowed a practicing architect (in a trainee-type position)
    • Worked in the golf construction industry so they have seen first-hand how golf courses are constructed

There is not a prescribed way to break into golf course design, but passion and perseverance are fundamental. If a candidate’s background is not exactly as described above, they should still enquire about the course. EIGCA members are passionate about the profession and hugely supportive of the EVQGCD programme. One of the members on the EIGCA Education Board will get in touch to provide help and advise potential candidates on the right path to realise a career goal to work in golf course design.

Why take this course?

The EVQGCD is the only accredited professional qualification in golf course design, anywhere in the world. The course is structured as a blend of online and in-person workshops to provide design experience which is underpinned by the latest thinking of experienced architects.

The knowledge and experience gained from this course provides a rock-solid foundation on which to build a career. The theory and practical application taught puts the graduates ahead of their competition to meet the increasing demand from the industry for all levels of qualified and skilled golf course architects.

All EVQGCD students are eligible to attend the EIGCA Annual Conference and education events whilst participating in the course.

What does the course cover?

The curriculum is divided into four terms across two years:

  • Term 1 - History of Golf Course Architecture, Golf Course Layout Design (part 1), Golfing Strategy, and Drawing Skills
  • Term 2 - Golf Course Layout Design (part 2), Planning, Agronomy (part 1), Site Assessment, Detailed Design, and Agronomy (part 2) - selection of grasses
  • Term 3 - Drainage, Irrigation, Ecology and the Environment (part 1), and Contract Administration
  • Term 4 - Construction Technology, Resort Masterplanning, Ecology and the Environment (part 2), and Golf Course Management

How is the course structured?

The EVQGCD is split into two years. Progression from Year 1 to Year 2 is contingent on passing all Year 1 assignments with an average combined grade of 60% or more. On graduation from Year 2, a student is granted EIGCA's Candidate for Membership (CfM) status:
CfM – EVQGCD Graduate
CfM – EVQGCD Graduate with Merit
CfM – EVQGCD Graduate with Distinction


Year 1 - Foundation

  • All students on Year 1 of the course are entitled to use the designation EIGCA Student.
  • Students must achieve a minimum of 50% on each marked assignment.
  • Only 1 re-submission per assignment is permitted. The maximum mark for a re-submitted assignment is 50%.
  • Any failed resubmissions mean the student cannot progress to Year 2 (but may choose to complete Year 1, if he/she wishes).
  • Students with an average mark of 60% or above are automatically offered a place on Year 2 of the programme (subject to confirmation of securing an approved mentor).
  • Students with an average mark of 50-59% may apply for Year 2 in the next intake and will be judged against students in the next cohort (as the course is held every two years, there will be a two-year delay until the next Year 2 begins). To be considered for re-admission to the next Year 2, the Student must either redo the modules with the greatest negative impact on their overall mark, or demonstrate an improvement in their knowledge or skill by completing a new assignment.
  • Students who fail to achieve a minimum of 50% on each assignment will not be eligible to progress to Year 2. The student may apply to repeat Year 1 (as the course is held every two years there will be a one-year delay until the next Year 1 intake). Applicants for the next cohort will be given priority over students re-taking Year 1 meaning there is no guarantee there will be a place available for a re-take.
  • All Year 1 marks are carried forward to form part of the overall mark for the course.
  • There is no award for passing Year 1 of the course.


Year 2 - Advanced Golf Course Design

  • All students on Year 2 become conditional Candidates for Membership of EIGCA (CfM). If the student fails to complete the year, this membership status is suspended.
  • To graduate, students must achieve a minimum 50% on each assignment.
  • Only 1 re-submission per assignment is permitted. The maximum mark for a re-submitted assignment is 50%.
  • Graduates of Year 2, i.e. successfully pass all assignments, are automatically admitted to EIGCA at the Candidate for Membership grade (CfM) and awarded one of the following designations:
    CfM - EVQGCD Graduate with Distinction
    CfM - EVQGCD Graduate with Merit
    CfM - EVQGCD Graduate
  • Students who fail to achieve 50% or more on all Year 2 assignments, or withdraw from the Year for any reason, may apply to repeat Year 2 (as the course is held every two years there will be a one-year delay until the next Year 2 begins). Retaking the year is dependent on availability of places as the students progressing into Year 2 from the next cohort are given priority.

How is the course delivered?

The course is structured as a blend of online and in-person workshops.

The online presentations are given by experienced architects and available on demand. They can be viewed multiple times within the term to which they relate.

Students must attend five workshops throughout the duration of the course, all of which are held in Europe. The emphasis at each workshop is on practical design work to introduce an area of golf course layout or detailed design, as well as testing your understanding and progression

Is it essential for on-the-job training while taking the course?

Mentorship* by an EIGCA member is encouraged, but not mandatory, in Year 1. In Year 2, it is mandatory for a student to have mentor relationship with an EIGCA member.
* Mentorship is via EIGCA's Student Attachment Programme (SAP) - If not already employed by an EIGCA member, the student may apply under the Student Attachment Programme. It is the student's responsibility to secure a mentorship (the EIGCA office can help finding a member mentor).

Students are required to spend an average 2-3 days each month with their mentor to learn about the practicalities of all aspects of golf course design. This practical hands-on experience will normally include visits to projects in construction to help develop an in-depth understanding of the construction process. Mentors help students develop skills which complement the course, and are likely to include:

Students in the field
  • 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

When is the next EVQGCD course?

The course is run every two years. The current intake of students began in 2021, therefore the next course will commence in 2023.

How do I apply to join the next course?

The closing date for applications for the 2023-2025 intake is 31st September 2022.

To register an interest, email Wendy Cooles (wendy@eigca.org) who will send additional information to help with making a decision whether to apply for the next intake.

How much does the course cost?

The total cost of the course varies depending on whether the student is employed by an EIGCA member or not. Payment for each year of the course must be paid in full before the course begins.

  • Year 1 = £2,750 (all students)
  • Year 2 = £1,500 (students employed by a current EIGCA member)
    = £3,000 (students on the Student Attachment Programme)

Updated: April 2021

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