WHEN IT COMES TO a resort golf course, “People are looking for visual excitement, with lots of bells and whistles and attention to detail,” says Steve Forrest, principle partner with Arthur Hill/Steve Forrest and Associates, a golf architectural firm in Toledo, Ohio. “The goal is [for golfers] to have a ‘wow’ kind of experience.”
According to Ron Whitten, an architecture editor for Golf Digest, most resort developers use big name designers because “when you are going to spend that kind of money, you go with the Fazios, the Dyes, and the Nicklauses.” Also, these architects not only build a visually pleasing environment, they design courses that suit both the scratch golfer and the Sunday hacker.
For example, Tom Marzolf, an architect with Fazio Design Inc. in Hendersonville, N.C., says he will situate sand traps on the right, but a short distance from a tee, to give the hole a dangerous look that is less threatening than it actually is. “It gives it drama,” he says. In the meantime, says Marzolf, he can “do things on the left side that get the attention of the strong player.”
Resort courses are also being built with as many as six different tee placements, which can allow the course to play to the strength of the scratch golfer or the weakness of the duffer. “It also allows you to set the course up and get people around fast so they can get to their meetings,” Forrest says.
Golf Digest's Whitten doesn't see big differences between resort layouts and others. But he agrees that architects “indulge in a few more bells and whistles” on a resort course. “Whether it's a waterfall or a floating island green, they're trying to come with a wowser that gets people to come back,” he says. Marzolf agrees. “A player should see the layout and immediately think, ‘This is where I want to play,’” he says. “They may play it only once or twice, but the memory may lead the group to come back.”