For many years, golf course architects bristled when landscape architects, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, sports field contractors, attempted to cross over into golf course design, renovation and construction. We’re all human, even golf course architects (!), and so it chafed a bit to see this — mainly because this move clearly requires a considerable learning curve to deal with all of golf’s nuances, not to mention the scale and complexity of golf projects.
The best response, we’ve learned, is switching that formula around — bringing golf design and construction skills to sports field construction. What we’ve seen time and again since the launch of Lohmann Sports Fields in the late 1990s, is this: In the realms of siting, circulation, drainage, agronomy and design for multiple uses, the golf course design/construction process transfers to sports field design/construction in a pretty seamless fashion. In fact, we bring more skills to the table than are required. The process of effectively planning, siting and building sports fields requires all the skills of golf course design and construction, only on a smaller, more simplified scale.
Comparing the master planning a 250-acre parcel for golf — with all the changes in elevation, water, forested areas, and environmentally protected areas — with master planning a 60-acre sports complex is like comparing chess and checkers. We’re glad to have been trained in chess, frankly.
Boil it down and consider drainage alone, probably the single biggest concern in the layout and reconstruction of a sports field campus. Maximizing existing grades and drainage patterns — to move water efficiently from the playing surface — is the golf architect’s primary specialty!
A much overlooked aspect of sports campus design is the availability of a water source and the efficient transfer of water from that source. That’s the first thing we look at, be it a golf or sports field project: Where are we getting our irrigation water, how much do we have, and what will it cost? From our experience, this isn’t given nearly enough attention in sports field design and construction.