By Design – Issue 60, Winter 2022

14 It is rare now for a golf course architect to be given a site that would be deemed as perfectly suited to golf: the gently undulating land that is not so flat that it can’t be drained, while not so steep that golfers can’t make their way around it without steep uphill climbs or shots that career along slopes and into trouble. Golf ’s increasing popularity over the years has seen the game move from the famous links of the UK that were considered ideal golfing land to inland sites that may require more manipulation, and eventually regions like deserts and mountains where golf course architects had to acquire new skills to lay out a playable and enjoyable golf course. An increasing focus on sustainability has required such skills to be developed further, as designers try to minimize their impact on the land while also maximizing the commercial viability of the project. Highs and lows Brian Curley, ASGCA, has dealt with challenging sites throughout his career, particularly in Asia, where he has worked for over 30 years. “The good news is that most golfers love elevation change,” he says, “as long as they are not walking it! “My job is to create a playable experience that does not beat the golfer up with relentless difficulty. That is why the dirt-move stage is so important – you need to be right first time because adjustments can become a lot of work and be expensive.” Curley follows a trusted formula. “You always treat the natural grade Not every golf course site is the gently undulating land considered ideal for golf. But when a golf course architect is presented with extreme elevation change, how do they approach the design? Richard Humphreys finds out more. Inat the steep end ELEVATION CHANGE