The design of the golf courses

Interview to Ignacio García.

Golf, sometimes, object of desire by the followers of the sport and of the surrounding regions which see their fields as a source of revenue thanks to a tourism of a certain economic level. Other times they are a source of controversy, by its detractors who see in the golf courses a problem of environmental sustainability by the water resources of our country, it is certain that in Spain there are more than 300 golf courses spread over the four cardinal points.

The design of the golf courses, a complex process, beyond the sport.

It is a reportage with pictures of one of the golf courses designed by the Spanish architect of golf courses, Ignacio García, published in the journal professional business of gardening “Jardineros” which focuses on the work carried out by the professionals who work in the design, development and maintenance of golf courses. They know that they work in a sector that has become an event that goes beyond the sports aspect. Golf courses are the meeting point for social relations, business, and also relevant spaces for leisure and business.

In the words of the golf course designer Ignacio García, founder of Ignacio García Golf Architecture, the practice of golf in Spain has become a multidimensional phenomenon which goes beyond what is merely sports. Its implications have acquired considerable dimensions in sports, tourism, territorial and environmental.

Currently a golf course already must not only ensure a series of physical conditions that make him suitable for the practice of this sport. It must now accommodate all types of players, from the professional to the beginner, offering the best security measures both the players and persons working within the facilities of the complex. And also in the surroundings, in the houses of the neighbours, roads, etc.

As indicates Ignacio García, “it is no enought for the golf course the beauty, functionality, and respect for the environment, also it is necessary to minimize the maintenance and environmental impacts. Now, more than neck, a golf course creates value in the destination brand. Its territorial relevance attracts equal to a specific and universal tourism”.

The design process.

The design of a golf course is a difficult and painstaking process as well as its construction. In the first phase of the design, the key figure is the designer. He will perform the layout and distribution of each piece that is involved in the golf course, and it is he who in addition, will direct to the rest of members of the technical team. The initial work is a recognition of the terrains.

For the designer Ignacio García, “when I am recognizing a terrain, the design becomes a challenge. Rarely the site of a tee, a fairway or a green responds to other reasons that are not the reasons that provides the terrain”.

The chosen place.

The choice of terrain that you are going to occupy and that occupies a golf course is not the result of chance. They are always places with beauty and also with necesary conditions for the construction of a sustainable golf course.

This is evident for Ignacio García, “the location of a golf course is the key to their destiny, while at the same time a means for the sustainable development of installation”, because a golf course can only be carried out in plots whose physical determinants, environmental and landscaping, will allow them to do so. The choice depends on the ability of the land, for this reason the previous study of the site is very important thing. The golf course should be respectful with the environment, must ensure the maintenance of the diversity and habitats, and increase them.

There are factors such as water resources, that are of great value because of their scarcity.

In this case, it is important to emphasize that, the water intended for human consumption are not used for irrigation of golf courses. Therefore, the location must ensure adequacy, quality and provenance of the irrigation water. And, finally, the site should have a minimum surface for the future golf course.

The implementation of the project.

In this part of the project, agricultural engineers, architects, engineers, shapers and topographers, among others, are involved in the project´s construction, always under the direction of designer.

As Ignacio García says, “there is not a single constructive method for the construction of a golf course. The factors involved in the process tend to be different. Maybe that is why golf courses are always different. The guidelines to be followed are the common sense and the professionalism of the designer”.

As well, in each project the designer decides the best strategy. The order of operations is not necessarily sequential and some activities overlap in time.

According to Ignacio García explains one of the most important tasks is the movement of land. The topsoil is stored in a convenient place, until it is repositioned in the field. The cuttings and embankments required to achieve the modified topography of a golf course are not the only movements of land that requires the work. Small excavations, openings and closings of trenches and pits, are used in the implementation of channels and water reservoirs, irrigation, drainage, or modeling. And continues to explain that, in parallel with the installation of the drainage and irrigation, it is the time for the construction of the greens, tees and bunkers or sand traps.

With regard to the existing vegetation, it is part of the design or moved in locations outside of the playing area when interferes. The sowing is done within the best dates to assure the establishment of the plants. It requires the preparation of the soil using organic amendments and minerals and water for the irrigation. Regardless of the pace of the work, the landscaping is completed with the planting trees and shrubs.

The construction of all the buildings, maintenance facilities and machinery, Club House, changing rooms, etc. , are governed according to their own program.

The maintenance job.

Once the construction is completed, golf course needs another work no less important: the maintenance of the field. This task, of course, also rests in hands of experts and professionals. The optimum condition for the golf course is essential for its future success.

One of the most important works in this section is the cut. While it is true that the species of grass in use today are the result of years of research, and that these fruits have resulted in more resistant species and with lower maintenance requirements, it is necessary your care.

As said Ignacio García, mowing the lawn is a traumatic process for the plant.

This practice requires the use of a machine in perfect condition. On a golf course each use zone has a recommended cutting height, the same way as each species also has a cut. On the other hand, the phytosanitary treatments that protect plants from pests and diseases, also removed the weeds that appear in the sand in the bunkers.

García also points out that “in the present, maintaining a system of modern irrigation is comfortable”.

Today there are intelligent systems of irrigation programming, with weather station control, which ensures the proper management of the water. Not only it provides the right amount of water for the lawn, also it can stop the irrigation if there is a significant rain and can report in real time of the characteristics of water. The regular checking of the irrigation system minimizes leakage.

Another series of jobs that are necesary for the golf course are the verticuts, the puncture, the porks, the pruning of trees and shrubs, maintenance and cleaning of lakes and reservoirs, etc. In this section is very important to speak about the Greenkeeper. Its mission is to coordinate and supervise all the maintenance workers to do the appropriate tasks. He is the person responsible for conducting the annual plan of maintenance and daily activity, as well as overseeing the purchases and orders necessary for the maintenance. It is also responsible for resolving all the problems of plant´s disease, the dose of fertilizer and all the necessary treatments. It also has the responsibility to represent the maintenance team at the meeting`s board and to maintain contact with the manager of the golf course.

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