Driving value from golf course design and construction is absolutely critical to the success of modern golf resort development. It’s sad to say that the construction of a championship golf course in most parts of the world is prohibitively expensive these days. No doubt there will be good people out there wishing to build golf courses for the growth of the game or the sheer passion they have but these opportunities are now thin on the ground. With golf courses being sold in the UK for anywhere between two and five million pounds, and a new golf course costing probably double that, it’s easy to see why more golf courses are closing in the UK than opening.
Consequently, the industry has to rely on the massive advantages a golf course can bring to a development – premium value, increased occupancy and a higher standard of living to name a few examples. So how do we ensure that maximum value is created from the golf course? I think I can show these principles just by looking at golf course design in Dubai.
We have to look at three fundamental principles of golf development masterplanning. We’ve seen them all and we’ve planned them all and it all depends on the local market expectations as to which strategy is chosen.
Firstly, and probably that which creates the best golf course is what we call ‘Core Golf’. This planning strategy effectively removes the golf course from the residential development giving it its own site. As the golf course is built within one contiguous boundary, with little or no overlooking property, it can be squeezed onto a smaller parcel of land roughly 150 acres or perhaps smaller. Particularly with a small overall site, this frees up more land for development and raises the overall GFA. On a spreadsheet this looks good, although the liquidity of sales may be affected due to the expectation of a golf course view. Emirates Golf Club is a good example of this. Consequently, with little real estate overlooking the course, it feels more private and therefore a more premium golfing experience.
At the other end of the scale, single fairway corridors are packed either side with residential plots or in some countries tower blocks of apartments. This maximises the premium golf frontage pushing the linear meterage up but reducing the premium itself. The land take for the golf course also increases due to safety offsets to roughly 200 acres for a championship length course but it does enable the developer to reach the far corners of the site with some open space amenity. This is normally suitable for very large sites where the effect of the quality of the golf course experience ranks lower than the premium frontage of the surrounding property. The Montgomerie is a good example of this, with a huge number of villas overlooking the course, the golf front premium on real estate is plentiful.
The happy medium between these two strategies is a double fairway corridor where property overlooks both sides of the corridor 180m away from the opposite property. This allows us to reduce the land take whilst squeezing the golf course on to a reasonable land take. 165 acres should do it for an 18 hole championship course with a driving range. The double fairway corridor increases the feeling of space too, because with clever landscaping the player may only feel overlooked from one side and with some good earthworks design, may not feel overlooked at all. Jumeirah Golf Estates puts this planning technique to work perfectly.
Simple so far?
These are the fundamental principles of laying out a golf course within a real estate development at a high level. At the next level of detail we can look at what drives value further such as long views, island communities, beach frontage, lagoons etc. Ribbon developments certainly look good on a spreadsheet and in most cases are difficult to argue against but neighbourhood planning and placemaking drive resort design away from the planning efficiency and towards higher property premiums, without having the same risk, capex and challenge of a more dense environment.
To learn more about how we can drive value and premium out of your development, call us anytime on +44 117 971 3950. We should warn you, it would be a long phone call!