A wee bit of history
The game of golf was invented in the 15th century in the kingdom of Fife, which is on the east coast of Scotland. Back then they did not use nicely made balls, and fancy clubs, they made do with sticks and pebbles. And their golf course was fashioned by mother nature with the help of the local fauna. Golf courses back then, were made up of the sheep tracks, sand dunes, and rabbit warrens.
The design stage
These days the golf courses are designed by people who have made golf course design a career. And with the help of modern equipment, they reshape the landscape to make their vision a reality.
Golf courses are designed to be played by and enjoyed by people of varying skill levels. There are routes placed within the course for the advanced players, and routes for the less skilled. Thus enabling players of varying ability to be able to complete the course easily, or at least without too much frustration.
When a golf course is designed, the first stage is to create a basic layout on paper. From this every feature of the golf course is carefully calculated.
Next, the design is transferred to a CAD (computer aided design) system on a computer. This allows for easy manipulation of the design, in-order to get the desired final result.
The first part of the actual build process is to remove all the top soil on the course area. This is then replaced by specific soil composition for the different areas of the course. For example, the putting greens require a top soil made up mostly of sand, which increases the water drainage.
Hills and dips – contours
The contours on the design/map show where the hills and dips/hollows will appear on the golf course. These contours are marked out in real life by placing posts. These posts are marked with different colours. The different colours are red, blue and yellow. Posts with red rings on them mean that the area marked out should be cut to form a hollow. Yellow ringed posts refer to the gradient of the dip/hollow, and blue ringed posts represent the areas that will be filled to produce hills. The rings on the posts refer the height/depth in half metres.
The top soil removed during the initial stage of the build, is used in the creation of the course.
The installation of a drainage system is the next stage. This is essential or otherwise you would soon have an unplayable course, due to areas of the course being rain soaked and possibly boggy. Also, having a proper drainage system in place means the course is playable all year round.
The installation of the drainage system is achieved by a giant vehicle, that performs three tasks during the the installation process. It uses a series of rotating blades to dig out a 75cm trench, the excess soil is transported along a conveyor belt and dropped into a dumper truck that is driving along the side. A pvc flexible pipe is fed into the trench, and finally a layer of gravel is placed on top.
Planting the grass
Golf courses need different types of grass on different areas, in order to achieve the desired result. For example, on the putting green a smooth surface is needed, that also has a higher level of drainage than other areas of the course. The grass used on the putting green is called creeping bent, and the top soil contains a high amount of sand to increase the drainage amount. This grass and top soil combination results in a very thick and smooth surface.
Keeping the grass healthy
To keep the grass in good health, thus providing a pleasing and playable surface, an automated irrigation system is installed. These are usually linked up to a weather monitoring station, which will be able to inform the automated irrigation system when watering will be needed.
The irrigation system helps here for when long periods of no rain occur, as the rain water when it does fall, is gathered up into the lake and water ways on the course, thus providing a backup means to provide water for the grass.