Why Alternative Golf Courses Improve the Game
When the editors of By Design, the magazine of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, were seeking a few examples of alternative types of golf course designs and alternative formats for the game, they came to the right place.
For nearly six years, Damian Pascuzzo and partner Steve Pate have been working with the concept they call a “Challenge Course.” To date they have designed and opened two of these par-3 layouts: The Challenge at Monarch Dunes (Nipomo, Calif.) and the new Challenge at Spurwing (Meridian, Idaho). In each location, the Challenge Course is adjacent to an 18-hole regulation-length course.
The Pascuzzo & Pate “Challenge Course” concept consists of nine to 12 holes, each with multiple grass tees, bunkering, water features, trees and all of the other elements that make up a top-quality golf course. Both of the Challenge Courses are within residential developments, where the lot premiums are the same as those homes located on the regulation course.
Probably the most design distinctive features are the oversized, undulating greens, which are built and look every bit like those on a championship golf course. Each green is about 9,000-12,000 square feet and has been carefully positioned to create a variety of difficult and easy pin locations. This is an essential element because each green is played with two flags – one in a more accessible location, with the other in a more difficult spot.
“You can pick your “challenge” on each hole, however you like,” Steve said.
There are multiple objectives in creating these courses, including:
- Offer a fun alternative for experienced players where they can feel as though they have played “real golf” while working on their iron play as well as their short game.
- Offer a quality golf experience to players of all abilities in a shorter period of time. Typically, playing 9-12 holes takes no more than 1 hour, 15 minutes.
- Provide an entry level course for people of all ages who are new to the game. The Challenge Course has multiple tees and angles to the greens to accommodate easy ways to play each hole, as a way to take the intimidation out of being new to golf.
- Create a golf course that will appeal to the golfer who may not be able to play a regulation-length course anymore, but wants to keep swinging the club.
- Create a golf course where a 10-some of friends can play, enjoy a few beverages during the round and then head to the clubhouse – where it will take 30 minutes to figure out all the bets.
Both Damian and Steve are convinced that that their “Challenge Course” concept can have a positive impact on the future of the industry – not to mention the game.
“We believe our designs illustrate how we as golf course architects can respond to the way people live today,” Damian said, “and present new environments in which to play and enjoy the game.”