The great golf course architect, Dr Alister Mackenzie, is well renowned for his 13 design statements that, at the time, summarised his principles of golf course architecture. They are still very much relevant for modern day golf and design, however during my 20 years in the industry I have developed my own ideas and philosophies that very much epitomises what I am trying to achieve when designing or renovating golf courses.
My objective is to design a golf course that is thoroughly enjoyed no matter what their standard of golf, the weather or its condition.
A golfer, after playing the course for the first time should reasonably effortlessly recall the holes. If not, it suggests a dull or boring golf course (or a golfer with a poor memory).
Ultimately, a golf course should enhance the ecological strength of the land, never take away from it. It should look good while at the same time blend as seamlessly as possible into the landscape.
Any reasonably competent architect can design a half-decent golf course on a spectacular piece of land; an outstanding architect (Westenborg Golf Design) can design spectacular golf courses on only half-decent pieces of land.
The architectural history of a golf course should be respected and if at all possible be preserved or restored; treated similarly to a rare artifact from the past. If such a course requires modification, it should be carried out with great care and research.
On Par 4 and 5 holes, a golfer should never automatically reach for the driver.
If a driver or even a 3 wood, is the chosen Club on a Par 3 for any standard of golfer, it is without doubt too long.
The shortest of Par 3’s and sometimes even the shortest Par 4, should be the trickiest; luring the golfer into a false sense of security.
There should be no such thing as the “Signature Hole” All the holes on the golf course should be a “signature hole”.
Negotiating the hazards on a golf course is what golf is all about; accept their punishment and enjoy the challenge – don’t complain.
To reach a Par 5 in two, an exceptionally good second shot should be required; not an average one with a short iron.
We disagree with the cliché used by many architects “we design courses for all standards of golfers”. We believe a golf course should be designed for the average golfer (despite the handicap system); it can always be adjusted to challenge the lower handicapper.
The other well known cliché “we design golf courses that blend naturally into the environment”, is also not feasible – a golf course is not and never will be a natural feature. However every effort to should be made to make it appear so.