AFFORDABLE GOLF COURSES

Golf has always been considered to be for society’s elite to indulge in, barring or discouraging countless from trying a hand at the game. What society has to understand is that golf can be fun and it can be fascinating but it should also be affordable.

When we talk about affordability, we shouldn’t only point out to the playability aspect of the game but to the ability to build golf courses in limited means without incurring huge amount of expenses too. When both the former and latter are in sync can we call a facility an affordable golf course.

Fees at some courses today bar individuals, couples and families from taking up golf or sticking with it. This fee is usually high because of various foolish reasons such as the location of the course, brand name it is associated with and one of the worst reasons being the word ‘Golf’. It is not a hidden fact that Golf is more often associated with being a game for the elite; therefore it becomes an accepted norm that the amount charged for every service should also be elite whether it is playing on the course, getting a coaching lesson or practicing on the driving range.

Another main factor that makes big golf courses and establishments unaffordable is the various components that go into making and sustaining the course. For instance, a golf course of about 180 to 200 acres must forever be fertilized; sprayed, mowed, aerated and major expenses are incurred in their maintenance. Apart from all this most of these courses have to be constantly manicured, not especially for enhancing their playing quality, but to give it a good appearance. Furthermore, various types of land and leisure taxes are paid annually because golf establishments incur huge expenses. The bottom line is that a lot of money is required for creating and keeping these big courses, hence this money is raised from its players and visitors.

Don’t you think that there should be golf courses which do not present those affordability hurdles faced with large courses? Golf is still a developing sport in many countries around the world and the only way to give it a better push would be to make it more accessible to the general masses.

This accessibility will be realized through better and more efficient ways of building golf courses without incurring huge expenses and wastage of resources along with attracting people to play the game without presenting the worry of high fees and playing costs.

By Ashish Vaishnava (AV GOLF)

Playing Golf is a wonderful experience

Playing golf is a wonderful experience best understood by the fraternity of players who have enjoyed it for many years. In the past, most of these players would play an 18 hole course given the choice, and most would try to find the best 18 hole course in their area that they could afford. Times have changed for these same people who now have less time and a lot less money than before, and as a consequence their views have changed as well regarding the type of courses they would play. On the other side of the golf world are the beginning players who seek any golf course that is convenient to them in order to pursue their new interest. Like the veteran players, the beginners probably have less time and less money to devote to their new hobby and this defines their view of the type of courses they would play as well. Interestingly, there may be a convergence of these two polar opposites of the golf world at the same golfing facility and the savvy golf course owner should be looking to make accommodations for both.

Without question, most golfers are interested in golf courses that are well maintained (specifically the greens), have reasonable green fees, and aren’t plagued by slow play. That is a tall order to fill for some courses, but accomplishing those three goals can help a golf course attract the most customers. There are other virtues worth striving for that are needed to make any golf course attractive to the beginning golf, the familiar golfer, and every type of golfer in between.

Every golf course should be designed to fit in with the site’s natural features. This can be the distinguishing feature separating it from other local courses. Taking this approach could mean the number of holes may be less than 18, or it may allow for 18 holes, but at an overall playing distance much less than what is considered average today. The golf course with fewer holes that fits in well with the land by preserving the natural features may be more attractive than a course that obliterates the land’s natural features while trying to meet the “rule” of 18 holes. What if the land is featureless? This is a delicate subject to discuss because in our experiences land deemed featureless has in fact proven to have many wonderful and subtle features worth preserving and incorporating into the design of the course. If the land is truly featureless, maybe a distressed site abused by previous development, there may be a strategy worth exploring. If the golf course land is within a developing area then let the bulk earth movers deposit their excess soil and shape and misshape the soil in any way they see fit. At the appropriate time the architect can visit the site and see what kind of golf course can be found on the “naturally” manmade site. This approach certainly takes a leap of faith but it could result in an intriguing layout not possible with a more conventional approach.

For the golfers fewer holes means it takes less time to play, and costs less money to play. These benefits can be attractive to many golfers. But in many communities the most successful golf course will provide golf holes with a heightened standard of strategy and interest which will be attractive to golfers of all abilities. Golf holes with interesting natural features, and more importantly, with exciting strategic challenges can make any golfer forget the number of holes. Fewer holes are not the only feature that may prove attractive to all golfers. Shorter courses help the better player fine tune their short game; shorter courses can be less intimidating to the beginning player; and, shorter courses with variety, like a hole or two that can play as a par 3 one time and a par 4 the next time, and holes that captivate and challenge golfers with intriguing strategic qualities can make a golf course the most attractive alternative in many golfing communities. For the developers fewer holes means construction and maintenance costs are lower. For communities fewer holes means less demand on local water resources and less of an impact on local natural features.

The position of the golf course property within the community is another important matter that deserves a post devoted to it. But, it is important to leave this post with the declaration that any golf course would do well to be integrated within the boundaries of a community, within walking distance of many of its residence so that it can be regarded as an indispensible feature within the community. Less important are the number of holes and the length of the course; more important is a golf course that locals support and in a sense take “ownership” of the course as a source of pride and source of indispensible joy in their lives.

A Putting Golf Course

A Putting Course is a varied type of golf course wherein play is carried out by putting the ball throughout the length of the holes. It is similar to a mini golf course, but the main differentiator between these two types is the turf on which play is carried out. A putting course is made of natural turf grass, just like a normal golf course, whereas, a mini golf course is constructed using synthetic or artificial turfs. This basically indicates that, the former will be like any other golf course, but, instead to taking full shots, a player will be putting throughout till he/she ultimately holes the ball.

Putting golf courses are very popular amongst resorts and hotels throughout the United States as well as the United Kingdom. They are known to be an excellent source of entertainment for people visiting these resorts during their vacations which in turn provides a good source of side income for the resorts themselves.

Looking at this concept from an individual investment perspective, a putting course does not require large financial investment for development, which is totally in opposite to the case of a fully-fledged golf course. If an investor has a good sized piece of land located somewhere in or near the city center then this kind of structure can be made immensely popular among the masses, consequently leading to generation of huge revenues and quick return on investment. Additional facilities like small confectionary stands or a mini restaurant becomes an added attraction for customers and it provides further revenues to the investors.

Therefore, the benefit of such a unique concept lies in the fact that people of all kinds can participate in playing golf without actually having to invest in learning the game from scratch. This in itself creates the popularity of playing the game which would be different when it comes to a proper golf course.  

clip_image002

To know more about putting courses please contact us on golf@avgolfindia.com or visit us on www.avgolfindia.com

YOUTH IN GOLF

It is often stated that the game of Golf is for a lifetime, one in which people can compete well into their golden years. Mentioned less often but no less true, it is also a game for children, holding many advantages and life lessons. Until quite recently, Golf was considered as an adult pastime, where children have been relegated to the sidelines as Dad and Mom went out for Golf.

Times have changed and today, amidst a host of activities that pull families apart, more families are discovering that togetherness is part of the joy of Golf.

Included in this formula are children and young adults who will enjoy both the thrill of the sport, along with some invaluable life lessons.

Golf is one of those sports that one can start early in life and any kid that grows up playing Golf always stands out of the crowd. Kids learn the basic fundamentals of life such as concentration, co-ordination, control, patience and perseverance at a very early stage and consequently they turn out to be much evolved individuals in the long run. Moreover, it is one of those activities that are not very strenuous for them; hence they do not tire easily and can continue playing for hours.

Benefits Of Golf To The Youth:

Overall Fitness: Kids who play Golf develop general physical fitness in a way that's fun, and they establish lifelong habits for good health. This is particularly important at a time when obesity and drug abuse is becoming a major problem in Punjab.

Stress relief: Golf allows kids to clear their minds of academic and social pressures, to literally run off the tension that's accumulated in their muscles. In the words of one person, "If you play really hard, you feel better because playing takes your mind off things that bother you, and afterwards you can concentrate better”.

Development: The game gives kids an opportunity to develop their own talents: through personal effort they get good at something they're interested in. Doing something well makes them feel good about themselves, but equally important, it teaches them about the process of how to improve and work more effectively. The process of repetition teaches the Golfer how to master a move and also how to experiment with different approaches to improve a skill. The feedback in sports is usually immediate and visible so that the athlete can change or repeat what she's doing and figure out how to get better. Not only that, the whole process of seeing practice lead to improvement gives kids a feeling of control, a feeling all too rare in their lives.

Healthy habits: Because Golf increases awareness of one's body and how it responds to different stimuli and circumstances, it helps to prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Most athletes value what their bodies can do and want to maintain those abilities. Being an athlete also gives kids an acceptable reason for telling their friends no to drugs, booze, and other high-risk, unhealthy behaviors.

Personal Benefits

Valuing preparation: Golf helps kids learn to distinguish between effort and ability. It increases self-discipline and the awareness of the value of preparation because kids can see the difference in their performance.

Competitive athletes learn the importance of effort, being prepared (mentally and physically), and enlightened risk-taking. They see that raw physical talent is not always sufficient to win the game, but that preparation is essential. This includes mental preparation (staying focused) and physical fitness as well as practicing the plays continuously. They learn to evaluate risk versus reward. Another invaluable lesson is discovering that mistakes are part of learning; they signal that a particular approach is unsuccessful and you must try another.

Kids also learn to deal productively with criticism as part of improvement and preparation.

Integrity & honesty – in these times where cricketers & footballers are seen to cheat openly even when these sports are controlled by umpires and referees , a golfers is taught to cal la fault oneself – very refreshing and of course this is why golf is seen a great place to invest ones company name.

Perseverance & Resilience: Golf provides an unparalleled model for dealing with disappointment and misfortune. Young athletes learn to handle adversity, whether it's picking themselves up after losing a big game or not getting the right shots as they wanted. They find ways to deal with losing and go on, because there's another big game next week or next year. They figure out what to do to get what they want for themselves. They put in extra time on fitness or work on specific weaknesses in their game.

Golfers also learn to deal with the physical and psychological effects of injury. People can find their internal drive through training and hard work, but adversity really brings out the real patience and resilience in a Golfer.

Attitude control: Older teens learn that a confident attitude improves their performance, and that they have some control over their attitude. They learn to disregard comparative stats in preparing for an opponent and instead to adopt "attitude enhancers" such as visualization exercises, individual rituals, singing specific songs etc.

• Identity: Being part of a group is inordinately important to kids, and Golf helps to make kids feel that they belong to an elite sports playing society. Golf also contributes to a teenager's sense of a stable identity with particular values.

Time management: Young Golfers learn to manage their time productively. They know they have to get their homework done, so they learn not to waste time (some of them even quit watching television and hanging out at the mall). They plan ahead, so that big school projects don't catch them by surprise. They even figure out they have to eat well and get a good night's sleep.

Long-term thinking: Golfers learn the fundamental lesson of sacrificing immediate gratification for long-term gain. This is the basis for personal success as well as for civilization in general, and no lesson can be more valuable.

Social Benefits

Correlation with other kids: Golfers develop playing relationships with their playing partners on the Golf course. As per a general study, for boys, sports are a primary, and unfortunately sometimes the sole, way of socializing with others. In many schools and communities, nonathletic males find it difficult to develop a social network at all. For girls, who according to the feminist theorist Carol Gilligan tend to define themselves through their relationships rather than their achievements, Golf offer yet another way to make friends and create an alternate peer group.

By Stuart J Campbell | stuart@avgolfindia.com | Chief Advisor

Sustainable Golf Course Design & Maintenance

Creating a sustainable golf course requires a land-based design approach that emphasizes a well-conceived routing plan. A properly routed golf course can contribute toward reducing energy consumption and other costs expended to build a course and maintain it. Architect's main goal is to route the course to take full advantage of the land’s natural features so that very little earth must be disturbed in the construction phase. Disturbing large areas adds to construction costs, provides opportunities for erosion and stream contamination, releases carbon into the atmosphere, and erases any interesting natural characteristics of the existing terrain.

In addition to the proper routing of a golf course there other items a client will want to consider in the planning and maintenance of a golf course. These items were gathered from our experiences and consultation with golf course superintendents:

· Explore the use of electric greens mowers.

· There are new green’s mowers that have small gas engines and generators that power the reels. These units consume half the gas and do not use hydraulic oil. Similar fairway units will be out soon.

· Only mow collars every other day.

· Rake bunkers twice a week maximum.

· Reduce the amount of area requiring weed trimmers.

· Use growth regulators, if feasible. Growth regulators used on fairways can cut fuel use by 30%.

· Cultivate and maintain large natural areas throughout the site.

· Buy local sand and soil.

· Design a course so that it requires fewer specialized maintenance equipment.

· Be energy conscious around the maintenance barn - use low energy bulbs, shut off computers when there not being used, recycle waste water used to clean equipment, etc.

· Use Club Car utility vehicles for general jobs because they use much less gas as compared to Cushman and Toro utility vehicles.

· Add a tenth of a pound of urea and sulfate of potash to every fertilizer application. At year end you use only a pound of nitrogen and potassium and you get better results than when you apply three or four times that amount with conventional granular applications.

· Incorporate a fertigation system into your irrigation program. This will save time, labor and fuel, plus liquid nitrogen is much cheaper than granular and saves energy on the conversion, hauling and spreading.

· Contour mow fairways as opposed to stripping, and alternate directions weekly.

· Do not fertilize the roughs.

· Selectively remove trees so you can grow healthy turf which will reduce chemical inputs.

· Establish true economic thresholds for all pests. A few weeds or brown patch in the roughs, or a little cutworm damage does not change the way the game is played.

· Maintain a high quality staff. In order to promote sustainability, the people that practice it need the training, the time, and the support to make it happen.

Golf & Environment

Golf courses today are often designed to preserve the natural environment as much as possible and to provide an important habitat for wildlife and plant life, particularly in rural areas. Even more important, today’s maintenance practices minimize any potential for environmental harm. Indeed, Golf courses are known to be kinder to the environment than the typical residential lawn.

Today’s Golf courses are not only environmentally sensitive, but they can provide important environmental benefits such as making use of otherwise undesirable land, such as landfills and flood plains, but also are excellent means of disposing of effluent from waste water treatment plants.

The turfgrass that Golf courses utilize provide several very important environmental benefits.

According to Eliot Roberts, executive director of the Lawn Institute, turfgrass provide the following benefits:

1. Water Purification and Conservation. The biology of turfgrass soils make them a nearly ideal medium for biodegradation of all types of environmental contamination. Water is purified as it leaches through the root zone. Furthermore, soil microbes help break down chemicals, including turf pesticides, into harmless materials. As mentioned earlier, turfgrass is very effective in cleaning effluent.

2. Air Purification. An acre of turfgrass will absorb hundreds of pounds of sulfur-dioxide each year. Grass also takes in carbon dioxide, ozone, hydrogen fluoride, and peroxyacetyl nitrate and returns pure oxygen.

3. Oxygen Generation. One 40’ by 50’ patch of turfgrass will produce enough oxygen for one person for an entire year.

4. Soil Building. Grass is the most effective plant for conditioning the soil as turfgrass roots are continually developing, dying, decomposing and redeveloping. It is also known that mowed turfgrass provides better production of organic matter and more root productivity than ungrazed prairies.

5. Erosion Control. Grass roots help hold the soil in place while the leaves help protect the soil from blowing away.

6. Temperature Modification. Urban areas may be 9 to 13 degrees warmer than nearby rural areas. Green, growing turfgrass may be 38 deg F cooler than brown, dormant turfgrass and 70 deg F cooler than a synthetic surface. This is true because the grass not only scatters the light as well as absorbing some of the solar radiation, but it also cools itself and its surroundings through evapotranspiration process – each blade of grass acts like an evaporative cooler.

7. Noise abatement. Grass can reduce undesirable noise levels by 20 to 30 percent.

8. Glare Reduction. Glare from artificial surfaces can be a contributor to stress. Bright sunlight is more comfortable if the glare is reduced. Turfgrass significantly reduce glare.

9. Allergy Control. Maintained lawns help reduce some causes of allergies by controlling, to a degree, dust, pollen from weeds and grasses, seeds, spores, and biting and stinging insects.

10. Entrapment of Particles. Grassed areas lower atmospheric dust significantly, as turf grass leaves trap the dust and dirt.

Today Golf Course construction and maintenance practices are extremely environmentally friendly. In addition the 60-65 acres of grass enhances the environment in several ways.

Tourists view Golf as a great value addition to established tourist destinations. Water Harvesting & Conservation techniques will enhance ground water levels at the Golf site.