Sports Facilty Design Portfolio By Todd Mathews


A client has proposed the idea to open a 9 hole golf course, with parking facilities for 200 cars as well as a clubhouse with beautiful surrounds. The following portfolio will present possible designs for the key features of the golf course.

Figure 1: Example of the Terrain on site, looking North towards the River Brock

Site Analysis

The site is situated in the North West of England, on the outskirts of the city of Preston. Access to the location is gained off St Michael’s Road, to the south of the fields. A prevailing wind dominates from the South West, with a cold Northerly wind coming in from the River Brock direction. Wildlife can be diverse within the woodland, placed in the North West region of the site, hosting species of bird such as crows, buzzards and pigeons.

Current annual average rainfall at the site is 1033.6mm (Met Office, n.d.). April currently has the lowest monthly rainfall, with 58.5mm of rain fall across the month, in comparison to October which experiences 120.4mm of monthly rainfall (Met Office, n.d.).

Figure 2: Analysis of the site (Mathews, 2017)

Each site has its own specific micro-climate, defined as a set of climatic conditions caused by shelter, topography and the position of the sun in relation to the site (Smith, 2004). A tree line separates the first and second field, which is predominantly large oak trees, acting as a wind break, as well as casting shade across the fields. As previously seen, a tree line shelters the course from the Northern wind, and therefore this should be kept in place to ensure golfer safety.

Frost pockets should also be identified, preventing key areas of the course (such as the greens) from being constructed in a location which is liable to frost. Frost pockets are created when cold air sinks and becomes trapped, for example at the bottom of a slope where air cannot circulate. Also, frost pockets are common in the woodland, where the ground is undulating, trapping pockets of cold downward flowing air (Payn, 2015).

Figure 3: Tree line through the site, creating shelter and shading (Mathews, 2017)

The tree line through the centre of the site will be removed, to prevent shading across the golf course as well as to prevent any frost pockets from occurring on key areas such as the greens. However, as woodland is cleared other trees such as Quercus spp. will be planted, for example between the fifth and sixth fairways to catch any loose balls from flying between holes, increasing player safety.

Golf Course Design

When identifying an appropriate site for a golf course, it is crucial that careful selection into the sites location occurs ensuring a site with appropriate soils, good access and is not excessively wet (Lobb, 2016).

The position of a golf course can be influenced by a number of factors, such as:

  1. acces
  2. orientation
  3. gradients
  4. topography
  5. health and safety
  6. convenience

Firstly, the access to a golf course should be clearly labelled from the road, as well as signage to car parks, the club house and the first hole, as well as other site facilities. Positioning of the car-parking should be in close proximity to the clubhouse as well as the first tee, to reduce walking distances. Disabled access must be incorporated throughout the club, including features such as ramps and lifts.

A detailed analysis of the topography can help to minimise cut and fill costs, if the natural undulations and slopes can be merged into the design of the course. When designing a new golf course, safety is of paramount importance; the health and safety of the golfers, workers and the general public always need consideration. For example, it may be necessary to install netting near to the road to prevent any stray balls from bouncing into traffic.

Sport England’s strategic planning for new sports facilities involves understanding (Sport England, 2011):

  • users’ profile
  • location
  • ground conditions
  • feasibility study

A users’ profiles is the identification of the expected level of performance. Secondly, the location includes the site’s ecology, topography, water courses and boundary. Ground conditions at the potential site include the site’s history, natural drainage, native soil type and weather conditions. Finally, a feasibility study should be conducted to highlight the level of expected use, combined with potential restrictions to the project (Sport England, 2011).

Sustainable Design

The design of a golf course has the responsibility to minimise negative impacts on the environment and society as well as maximising the benefits falling upon them. Sustainable design often leads to successful golf development (Smith, 2013). The encorporation of landscape, ecosystems, community integration and resources efficiency leads to a more profitable design in terms of playability, environmental impacts and future revenue. Further information about sustainable design can be found here:

Golf Hole Design

The design of the first hole is key to setting the tone for the round of golf to follow (Ricardson, 2002) and therefore an easy stroke index on the first hole is often incorporated to allow to golfers to settle into their rounds.

Recommended Yardages for Golf Holes

  • Par 3: Up to 250 yards with a green size of 400 square meters
  • Par 4: 251-470 yards with a green size of 400-650 square meters
  • Par 5: 471-690 yards with a green size of 500-740 square meters

There are a range of designs often used on golf holes including; penal, heroic, strategic. A penal design involves reaching the green in regulation, whilst one shot played could have incurred a penalty if misplayed (Jones, 2017). For example, a hole played along a water feature, where a shot is risked over the hazard to reach its ideal location.

Secondly, a heroic design involves two different methods to play one hole. The first method is safer and doesn’t involve severe risks in comparison to the second method which if played incorrectly, can incur a penalty. However if the hazard is negotiated successfully the player will be rewarded with a better position than if the hole was played safely (Jones, 2017).

A strategic hole design provides the player with at least one safe route to the green, in regulation, with little risk of incurring a penalty from a miss played shot (Jones, 2017).

Potential Golf Hole Designs

Hole 1, 164 yards

Figure 4: Hole 1 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 2, 460 yards

Figure 5: Hole 2 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 3, 174 yards

Figure 6: Hole 3 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 4, 230 yards

Figure 7: Hole 4 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 5, 490 yards

Figure 8: Hole 5 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 6, 240 yards

Figure 9: Hole 6 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 7, 393 yards

Figure 10: Hole 7 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 8, 153 yards

Figure 11: Hole 8 Design (Mathews, 2017)

Hole 9, 154 yards

Figure 12: Hole 9 Design (Mathews, 2017)

The previous holes will have the following layout, as shown below on the zonal plan below on a 1:2500 scale.

Figure 13: Zonal Plan of the Golf Course (Mathews, 2017)

When designing the course, screening, shelter and character must be created on the site.

Screening: Towards the south west corner of the site, screening could occur to block out views of the farm building. Mature trees could be instantly planted, to block out views of the farm, for example through planting a row of mature Western Red Cedar. Screening could also occur, at the back of the seventh hole, screening the road from the golfers view as well as providing safety where the ball is caught in the trees rather than flying onto the main road.

Shelter: must also be provided throughout the site, to protect the players from poor weather conditions. The players could be sheltered from the cold northerly wind through planting a woodland of Italian Alder, Alnus cordarta on the northern edge of the forth hole, combining shelter and protection of the green from the dog leg design.

Character: the character of a course helps the round become memorable to the golfers. for example, the incorporation of the River Brock running alongside the third hole helps create character upon the course.

Club House

When designing a club house, it should be located to control and support activity on the course, support the activities of the golfer and be an amenity for the local community (Guyer, 2009). Also, the design of a club house should allow viewing over the first tee and the ninth hole, allowing staff to observe the golfers playing the course and other golfers to watch players finish their round. Combined with viewing regions of the golf course, the positioning of the club house should also be a convenient location in relation to the car park, first tee and the ninth green to allow for quick access between facilities.

Sustainability should be considered throughout the design. For example, solar panels could be installed onto the Southern roof space upon the club house, combined with a green roof on the Northern roof to increase local flora diversity. The link offers further information into green roof space:

A design theme should be maintained throughout, to provide character. For example, a tutor style club house could be erected as seen here:

Entrance and Car Parking

Locating the entry position for the golf course is crucial to the flow of traffic around the site, with the entrance clearly sign posted off the road, as well as including signage to all the key features on-site. The car park should be situated no further than 75 yards from the clubhouse, to allow for easy transport of equipment (Guyer, 2009). The dimensions of a parking bay should be 2.4m wide by 4.8m long, with a gap of 6.0m between opposite bays (Hill, 2005). Below is the current entrance with a potential new design.

Commercial car parks can be designed with sustainable reinforced grass, as show in this link:

Figure 14: Current Entry to the Site (Mathews, 2017)
Figure 15: Potential New Entrance (Mathews, 2017)

Planting Plan for the Entrance:

Figure 16: Entrance Planting Plan (Mathews, 2017)
  • Hedging- Beech hedge (Fagus sylvatica) because it holds its leaves in the winter in a dry state maintaining appearance or Yew hedge will be used in the entrance, incorporated with Dogwood shrub (Cornus betulus) to provide colour
  • Trees- Carpinus betulus will be used to line the road up to the club house, providing an enclosed tunnel like entrance. A Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) will stand alone in-front of the club house, to provide bright colour, acting as a focal point.
  • Ground Cover- Bark chipping will be form the base of the entrance with emerging plants such as Snow drops (Galanthus) and Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) will also be planted to provide colours at different times of the year

Maintenance Facility

The machinery to care for a 9 hole golf course should include 2 pedestrian greens mowers and one each of a : ride-on greens mower; fairway mower; rough mower; tractor; sprayer; spreader and one trailer. Therefore the design of the maintenance shed should be roughly 11 meters by 10 meters. When designing a maintenance facility, the following factors should be taken into consideration (Lowe, 2014):

  1. Convenient location
  2. Protection from outdoor elements, reducing weathering
  3. Zonal concept to improve efficiency
  4. Work flow
  5. Staff safety


When designing a golf course is it crucial, in the modern world to consider sustainability throughout each design process. Sustainability includes environmental condition, social activities and economic performance. When designing the course it would be crucial to understand the environmental conditions e.g. the native soils and wildlife. Also, it would be vital to understand the social activity of the local inhabitants and the demand from the community. Finally economic activity is also key to the design, in regard to the budget of the client as well as the specifications required on the golf course. A sustainable design would enable the course to function over a long period of time, through reaping economic benefits as well as being environmentally friendly and accessible to the local community. The golf course could be further developed with the purchase of more surrounding land, and the installation of a driving range, to attract a larger number of golfers.

Reference List

Guyer, P. (2009) Engineering SoundBite: Golf Clubhouse Design. Guyer Partners: Stamford, USA

Hill, J. (2005) Car park designers’ handbook [pdf] Available at: (date accessed 21/04/17)

Jones, R (2017) How to Lower your Score by Reading the Features of a Course [online] Available at: (date accessed 21/4/17)

Kelley, B. (2016) What Are the Yardage Guidelines for Par-3s, Par-4s and Par-5s? [pdf] Available at: (date accessed 19/4/17)

Lowe, T. (2014) What Makes a Good Maintenance Facility? [pdf] Available at: (date accessed 13/4/17

Mathews, T (2017) Image taken by Todd Mathews on 21/5/17

Met Office (n.d.). Myerscough Climate [online] Available at: (date accessed 20/4/17)

Richardson, F. (2002) Routing the Golf Course: The Art & Science That Forms the Golf Journey. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, New Jersey

Smith, C. (2004) Environmental Physics. Routledge: London, UK

Sport England (2011) Design Guidance Notice [pdf] Available at: (date accessed 19/4/17)

Payn, V. (2015) An Ecological Gardeners Handbook: How to Create a Garden With a Healthy Eco-System and Garden Sustainably. BookBaby: New Jersey, US

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