I would like to share with you some relevant points that I consider will be the future of the architecture and the development of Golf.
Regularly, when we talk about golf courses, we think about 18 holes and more than 7 thousand yards. Although that would be considered the conventional design, I feel that we need to leave that way of thinking behind, and for that we must unlearn!
First things first, we no longer have time to play 18 holes; we no longer have the resources, whether of water or energy. We must think seriously about where golf is headed. What are we offering? We, as golf architects, have the obligation and responsibility, as if we were doctors, to maintain a professional ethic and offer different options for the market and the requirements for a project, not for the sake of ego. We are here to take care of the natural resources, think ecologically and create a profitable project. We must get involved and take personally the failure or success of those who trust us.
Do we have to reinvent golf?
I do think we need to change or re-prioritize concepts. In every project we design, we must create a sense of place, a sense of belonging. I think the best thing is to propose alternatives and promote courses of 6 and 12 holes, courses of multiples of three holes where you pay for the holes you are able to or want to play. We need facilities that encourage family life. In fact, one of my designs is currently experimenting with Footgolf and Disc Golf as I feel that it is the only way to attract more people into playing this great sport and frankly, I believe that this is the future. Golf courses should be inclusive, why not see the big grass-filled fields as a multisport court like the ones we had in high school, where depending on the schedule, they combine basketball, volleyball and indoor soccer? In the end, the golf course will always be there and you’ll keep maintaining it, and even if it’s empty, you have to find a way to keep the course full! Especially now with Millennials, who look for instant gratification in everything they do, and in the traditional 18-hole golf, they are not going to find it.
Maybe the formula is that on Tuesdays you play Footgolf from 2 to 6 in the afternoon and on Sundays you can use the course as a park for a stroll. Over time, I think we have “shot ourselves in the foot” since golf started being for everyone a few centuries ago. Golf really started from the bottom and we, through time and through our egos, have been closing it down and creating a pyramid. When it started it was shaped like an inverted pyramid. I hope that now we can open it again, but it will cost generations and great initiatives like the WGC Mexico Championship that will promote golf on open TV.
Another disruptive point that we should propose is to design shorter courses and forget about the color of the tee marks. Who said that red tees are for women? We should measure the distance we are able and should play according to our ability and physical condition. One day you can play 5,500 yards and another day, you feel like it and play 6,800 yards. I insist that the tees should not be color-coded. Is red for women? I don’t know who decided that. Is gold for old men? I don’t know who said that either. And then there’s the men’s tees, for machos and egos. You lose the context; you slow down the game and you lose interest.