Jack Nicklaus on his design philosophy of his course in South Korea
How to Become a Golf Course Designer
Golf course design is an exciting career that begins with training in landscape architecture and civil engineering. Beyond regular landscape design skills, a golf course designer must learn how to design maintenance-free greens that have good drainage flow and safe traffic patterns along with a challenging and visually appealing course. To become a golf course designer, get the right degree, gain experience while in college through jobs and internships, and then take the test to get your license.
Getting the Right Experience
Get a landscape architecture degree.It’s not required to get a degree in any field to become a golf course designer, but a few different degrees can help start you on your career path. The most common degree is in landscape architecture. Some design or architectural schools may offer courses just for golf course design.
- With a landscape architecture degree, you will learn ecology, environmental design theory, planning, implementation, and foundational design theory.
Consider a degree in civil engineering or agronomy.Another degree path you can take is in civil engineering or agronomy. Civil engineering helps with planning, construction, and earth modelling, and agronomy helps teach you about geology, soil, drainage, and environmental concerns.
Get an internship.While working on your undergraduate degree, get internships or become an apprentice. Try to get an internship with a golf design firm, or at least an architecture or design firm. Talk to your adviser about finding internship opportunities. If they don't know of any, start contacting local golf design or architectural firms in your area.
- If possible, you should find a firm that deals with outdoor or sports design projects.
Get practical experience through golf-related jobs.Job experience around the sport of golf can help you gain experience, understand the game, and be more marketable to future employers. Look for a job at a local golf course, with a golf professional, or a golf course company.
- It doesn't matter what kind of job you get. During this time, you are trying to make connections, meet people who have golf-related careers, and build a resume. Often, you can start in an entry-level or part-time position and move up from there as you gain more experience.
- You may also try a firm who handles similar landscape design, like parks, athletic fields, or entertainment complexes.
Developing Your Skills
Take up golf as a hobby.You probably already enjoy golf, which is why you want to become a golf course designer. Being a golfer can help you be a better golf course designer because you will understand the game and what needs to be on a course. You may also get ideas about what you’d like to see in a course that you haven’t so far.
- Understanding the game can help you think like a player so you can design courses they will want to play on.
Develop the necessary skills.While your education is important, there are other skills that will help you succeed as a golf course designer. You will need to have problem solving skills, along with analytical skills. This helps solve any problems you encounter as you design and work around limitations of construction materials and the landscape.
- You also need to have good written and verbal communication skills. As a golf course designer, you will be communicating with administrators, government officials, bureaucrats, and others connected to your project.
- Computer and technology skills are also important since you will be working with various technological devices.
Learn to use software related to landscape design.Software is a major part of golf course design. You will need to become familiar with computer-aided design (CAD) software. You will also be using graphics software while building your courses. Basic knowledge of these types of programs is important.
- Many landscape architecture programs offer classes in computer design and 3-D modeling. You can also learn to use these programs on your own time.
Finding a Job
Take the Landscape Architect Registration Examination.This test is offered by the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards. It contains four sections aimed at testing your knowledge, skills, and abilities. You must pass all four sections to receive your license.
- Section 1 covers project and construction management, section 2 covers inventory and analysis, section 3 is design, and section 4 deals with grading, drainage, and construction documentation.
- You can take the sections at different times. It is suggested to take sections 1 and 2 close to your graduation date and wait to take section 4 after a few years of practical experience.
Get your landscape architectural license.Licensure is required for a landscape architect working in the United States, unless they work for the government. Requirements vary by state, but generally demand a combination of work experience and education from an accredited school. In the US, the license will be received through the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards.
- Research what your individual state or country’s licensing requirements are.
Start work in an apprenticeship or internship.Often, even if you have had an internship while getting your degree, you cannot find a job after you graduate. Instead, many people start their careers by applying for an apprenticeship or internship at a golf-design firm. Additionally, many state licensing requirements call for up to four years of work experience as an apprentice before seeking a license in landscape architecture. After you graduate, apply for an apprenticeship or internship with a golf design firm.
- Often, apprenticeships and internships are obtained through network connections you make through your undergraduate degree, college internships, or college jobs.
Join a professional organization.If you live in the United States, the American Society of Golf Course Architects is a professional organization that can help provide you information and networking opportunities. The organization's website offers information and learning tools along with information on how to become a golf course designer. It also has a member directory where potential employers and clients can find you.
- In Europe, you can join the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, and in Australia, join the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects.
Video: How to Design a Golf Course with Golf Architect Ross Watson | Golf Getaway
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