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Different types of Golf Courses


A golf course is an outdoor recreational facility designed for the game of golf. A standard golf course usually consists of 18 holes, with a tee and fairway. Some golf courses have nine holes and the course is played twice per round, while others may have 27 or 36 holes. Public and private golf courses often have different facilities available in addition to the actual golf course. For example, private golf courses usually have a golf club and restaurant or cafe facilities.


:: Fairway – The area between the tee and the putting green.

:: Green – The mown area of a fairway surrounding the hole.

:: Hazards – Hazards may be of three types: (1) water hazards such as lakes and rivers, (2) man-made hazards such as bunkers and (3) natural hazards such as dense vegetation.

:: Tee – The tee is the area at the beginning of a hole from which the player’s first stroke is taken.

:: Bunker – A hazard consists of a prepared area of ground from which turf or soil has been removed and replaced with sand or similar material.

:: Driving range – A limited area of land with a line of bays or stalls from which golfers can practice shots.

:: Ancillary recreation – Other recreation facilities available on site that are secondary to the golf course e.g. bowling greens, driving ranges, fitness centres, swimming pools, tennis courts etc.

:: Gaming – Land used for gambling by gaming or wagering and where there is an ability to receive a monetary reward.

:: Club house – Land used by members of a club or group, members’ guests, or by the public on payment of a fee for leisure, recreation or sport. It may include food and drink for consumption on the premises and gaming.

:: Restaurant – Land used to prepare and sell food and drink for consumption on the premises. It may include: a) Entertainment and dancing. b) The supply of liquor other than in association with the serving of meals, provided that tables and chairs are set out for at least 75 per cent of patrons present on the premises at any one time. It does not include the sale of packaged liquor.

:: Function centre – Land, used by arrangement to cater for private functions, on which food and drink may be served. It may include entertainment and dancing.

:: Other improvements and facilities – A golf course and clubhouse cannot exist without a substantial number of ancillary land improvements and buildings. At a minimum, a course must have a golf cart storage place and a maintenance building for the storage of equipment and supplies, such as fertilizers. Additional structures may include a repair shop, rest stations and pump houses.


::Municipal – owned by a municipality; designed to accommodate heavy daily play throughout the year or season and to appeal to a wide variety of players. Municipal courses tend to be flat and have few rough areas where balls can be lost. Development and operating costs are typically low due to a concentrated irrigation system, easily mowed grounds, reduced landscape maintenance costs and few course obstacles.

:: Private – private courses must appeal to a wide range of golfers, but they are typically more difficult than municipal courses. A great many of these courses have a core design and most exhibit more intensive maintenance practices.

:: Resort Courses – resort courses are the most complicated types of courses. They are designed to appeal to serious golfers and serve as a marketing tool to attract convention business to the course or residents to a related housing development. Resort courses have memorable holes, scenic beauty, a feeling of privacy or spaciousness, ‘signature’ designers, lakes and a variety of hazards. Construction and maintenance costs are usually high.

:: Daily Fee Courses – Golf courses operated as profit-orientated business enterprises are referred to as daily fee courses or ‘pay for play’ courses. This broad category includes courses owned and operated for and available to the general public. Daily fee courses can be very simple 9-hole or par-3 courses, or complex enterprises of 18 holes or more providing a variety of services.


:: 18-hole standard regulation golf course

:: 9-hole golf course

:: Executive golf course

:: Par-3 golf courses

:: 27-plus-hole golf courses

Unlike other sports, the playing area for a golf course has no standard dimensions based on rules or regulations, except for the size of the hole that the ball must eventually enter. The number of holes and the length, width and configuration of a golf course can vary.

The terms ‘championship’ or ‘tournament course’ are often used to describe courses. They are slight variations on the 18-hole regulation golf course, defining the quality of the course and the challenge that each presents. Often the words ‘regulation’ and ‘championship’ are interchanged. A regulation course might be called a championship course simply because championship tournaments are held there, without consideration of the course’s length or quality.

As a rule, a 9-hole golf course has nine regulation length golf holes, usually five par-4 holes, two par-5 holes and a pair of par-3 holes. These holes can be as long or short as the designer or developer wishes. In some situations the design and construction of a 9- hole golf course is preferable. Limitations such as space may preclude the construction of a regulation 18-hole course and the market may not be one that could easily support a par-3 or executive course.

An executive course is shorter than a traditional regulation course. The holes are shorter than those typically found in a regulation course, but all the criteria for playability should be met. It generally consists of par-3 and par-4 holes, with a par-5 hole possible only with the constraints of the site. Because the executive golf course is shorter it requires less land than a regulation course. It is also useful in urban areas where land is expensive.

The market appeal for executive courses is that ‘executives’ with a limited amount of time available can play in less time than a regulation course. Novice golfers, junior golfers, seniors and occasional players, for example, may also find the shorter length easier to walk and less intimidating because even a player with a high handicap can shoot a lower score.

Par-3 courses consist of all par-3 holes. An 18-hole par-3 course therefore has a 54 par total. The market appeal of a par-3 course is generally the same as an executive course, except it is particularly attractive to less dedicated and/or experienced golfers. Most par-3 courses have little appeal for strong, highly skilled golfers. Many par-3 courses also have a driving range to attract a broader market.

The major advantages of a par-3 course are substantially smaller requirements for land and lower costs associated with the smaller facility. A par-3 course is particularly useful when the site has tight boundaries or includes difficult terrain – the shorter lengths and narrower fairways associated with par-3 holes make it easier to fit a in course than one with par-4 or par-5 holes.

Where land is available for the design and construction of more than a regulation 18- hole golf course, additional holes and even courses can be added to the original site. A 27-hole layout has certain advantages for both golfers and course operators. Golfers benefit because an additional number of holes and variations are available. Operators benefit because the course can accommodate a larger flow of players.

Economies of scale will translate into dollars generated by greens fees, food and beverages, and pro-shop sales. Operators also benefit because at off-peak times one 9- hole course can be shut down for maintenance, allowing the operator to maintain superior conditions on all three 9-hole courses.


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