A career in golf course architecture is not easily obtainable or suitable for all individuals. A strong determination and passion for design is essential to enter the industry in the first instance, and creativity combined with logical thought processes, good technical understanding and presentation skills are needed to develop a career in the profession. The compensation for such talents is a potential career that is very rewarding and fulfilling
a strong determination and passion for design is essential
for those that have both the determination and drive to pursue it.
Senior Member Ross McMurray with the design team at Le Golf National preparing the course for the 2018 Ryder Cup
Subjects that you may have studied and should be of use are art, mathematics, biology, geography, geology, chemistry and languages although there may be other subjects relating to graphics or IT that would also be useful. It helps if one is artistic, creative, good with figures and has an understanding of environmental science. Biology is particularly useful when studying plant science, and chemistry and geology for soil science. The ability to articulate and communicate ideas is essential as golf course developers, course owners and golf club committees will look toward the golf course architect to guide and advise them through any potential projects.
Senior Member Tim Lobb with Graduate Andrew Goosen on site in Nigeria
At university level a degree in Landscape Architecture is generally considered to be the most closely associated subject and is a very valuable qualification to achieve prior to taking the EIGCA’s education programme. There are other possible routes into golf course architecture such as through Civil Engineering, Agronomy, Greenkeeping or Professional Golf as you will see by the case studies of some of our existing members. The planning, earth-modelling, construction, drainage and infrastructure components of Civil Engineering have applications in golf course design while the technical knowledge of Agronomy in areas of geology, soils, plant science, drainage and environmental matters will be of value.
Senior Member and Past President Peter Harradine with local ladies in Stugna, Ukraine
Existing greenkeepers with an interest in golf architecture can utilise their greenkeeping skills in the renovation, restoration and remodelling of established golf courses. Coupling design creativity with technical greenkeeping knowledge can offer added value in the golf design business, although it will take longer to develop drawing and masterplanning skills, and in-depth technical construction knowledge. Professional golfers who have a keen interest in design can also utilise their extensive knowledge of the game to enter into the profession of golf course architecture. Being a competent golfer does not always mean you will automatically be a good golf course architect but a good appreciation of playing strategy and a familiarity with a large number of golf courses can greatly assist you when the important technical understanding of golf course architecture is studied as well. However, only exceptional individuals with a commitment to study will succeed in this field.
the study of the ‘classic’ course layouts, their routings, strategies and overall design is a must
In the first instance, those with an interest in pursuing a design career should familiarise themselves with the prominent architects of the past and present. There are numerous biographies written on the great course architects, and many others on golf course design, and reading these will provide the applicant with a better understanding of what the golf course architecture profession entails. The majority of these books (and many more) are available to students and the general public from the EIGCA library. Additionally the study of the ‘classic’ course layouts, their routings, strategies and overall design is a must for any potential student architect. Visiting courses (not necessarily playing them) to study their architecture and design is recommended. Collating your own thoughts, creating your own portfolio of photographs of golf holes and their features will develop both your understanding and appreciation of the profession of golf course design. Applicants for the Vocational Qualification are encouraged to bring a portfolio with some such examples to interview.
Click here to read about how some EIGCA members came into the profession.
Suggested reading for prospective golf course architects: