Billy Fuller Golf Design

The economic realities of golf have changed.. The entire golf  industry is working diligently to determine how golf fits into future American generations.  The industry experienced a period of exceptionally strong growth for many years.  Growth that was initiated and sustained by partnering golf course construction with the real estate/housing market.  The economic recession hit housing and golf, at a time when our game was competing with many new forms of leisure activities including digital games and social media.

This leads to the question, “What should golf become to compete for new players.  And what can existing courses, requiring renovations, do to enhance economic growth within?”  I believe the time is perfect to return to the core values of Golden Era golf design while using the best technology for features such as irrigation to minimize water and electrical demands, bunker construction to minimize erosion and sand contamination, in turn greatly reducing cost of maintenance post heavy rainstorms, turf selection that offers golfers the best playing surfaces while reducing maintenance pressures, drainage principals that  allow players more immediate access to course after rainstorms.

Many modern courses have nearly twice the bunker sand square footage necessary to provide sound strategic golf.  This condition equates to unnecessarily high maintenance costs.  Twenty to forty-year old courses have neglected tree pruning and removal, equating to poor turf quality due to shade and tree root competition.  Designers can save strategic trees  while eliminating those having adverse agronomic effects.

Unfortunately, golf has never fully understood the forward tee players.  We have recorded over a hundred rounds of golf in the past two years and documented shot yardage of every club in the bag for juniors, amateur ladies of every caliber, and senior men.  We found that course design “since the beginning” has ignored these players.  Tee length for these players is consistently wrong on every course we evaluated!  Our new and renovation designs are taking this new knowledge into consideration.  Our intent is to offer these players a new dimension of enjoyment, allowing them many more opportunities to putt for birdie and par.

Everyone has far more choices for leisure time than ever before.  We need to make golf less time consuming, more enjoyable for beginners and seasoned players, and less costly to maintain and play.  I believe that golf has a vital and vibrant future, that the best of days are still ahead of us and that we can realize this future by returning to the core values of Golden Era design concepts while utilizing the best technology that reduces long-term maintenance cost.

 The River Club in Clarksville, Tennessee, that I designed and built in 2014, represents what modern golf can be in terms of quality of play and lower maintenance costs .  Owner Greg Guinn had adequate land to build 18 holes and a small practice facility, but instead agreed to 9 holes with double size greens to accommodate two pin locations per green, and devoted 25 acres to the practice facilities.  He reserves half of the tee times for members and half for the public.  Tee yardages range from 2200 yards for beginners and juniors to 7,000 yards for the highly accomplished player.  For those who wish to devote only 30 minutes to an hour to their game improvement the ideal practice facility awaits, including a lighted driving range.

The Future of Golf