Feature Design


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As in other areas of design, greens should be designed with the axiom “form follows function”. In other words, determine the requirements of the green to accommodate the game of golf before creating the details of the green complex.

Contours on the putting surface can include fingers, knobs, rolls, decks and ridges. Their placement, width, length, height and slopes will influence the challenge and playability of putting on the green and the difficulty of maintaining the surface.

Size of greens depends on several factors, including severity of contours, length of approach shot, placement of hazards and maintenance practices.

Shape of greens can be manipulated to fit naturally with hazards, create variety in the length and direction of approach shots, decrease costs by conforming to the site, and affect maintenance costs by being simple or complicated in form. Influences to the shape include distance of approach shot, slope of the landing area and direction of prevailing winds.

Surrounds within the green complex can be composed of bunkers, water features, trees, mounds, depressions and other forms of challenging or aesthetic features. Difficult playing conditions around the green can place a premium on the approach to the putting surface and add greatly to the beauty of the site.

Whatever the design of the green, positive drainage must be established. This is accomplished with suitable surface slopes and underground pipes. The entire subsurface and surface of the putting green must drain. In addition, excess water from the surrounds must be able to escape the area and not flow onto the putting surface.

Location of the green is important for design, playability, and maintenance. When the complex is elevated above the fairway, the green surface and back portions of the surrounds are limited in visibility. Complexes on sites below the fairway permit more flexibility in design. Interesting or dramatic backgrounds add greatly to the enjoyment of playing approach shots. Maintenance of greens is enhanced when sites are chosen that are well drained, accessible to adequate air exchange and have unobstructed sun exposure.

The rejection and reception of approach shots to the green are dependent on the size, shape, contours and firmness of the putting surface. Punchbowl greens sloped towards the front will be more receptive than crowned surfaces shaped towards outer edges of the green. In this regard, the difficulty of a hole can be directly influenced by the design of the green.

Construction of greens must retain the architect’s design intent and follow strict specifications to ensure conditions are conducive to developing and maintaining healthy turfgrass. Experienced shapers and contractors are essential for their skill and knowledge in providing the necessary qualities to greens construction.

Maintenance practices are integral to the design of putting surfaces and green complexes. Accommodation must be made for mowing, cultivation, topdressing and spraying. Size of equipment, turning radii and stability are important to determine slopes and hazard locations. The choice of construction materials and grasses has a lasting influence on the appearance, playing quality and health of the turf.