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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Golf course planning issues and guidelines for the Lower Mainland Watson, J. Stephen


Interest in golf and golf course developments has increased considerably in recent years. The reason for this growth is threefold: babyboomers are now making golf the game of choice; women, who in the past were only allowed to play at restricted times or even banned entirely, can now play at almost any time, and presently account for approximately 50 percent (once only 10 percent) of all new golfers; and young people are beginning to take a keen interest in the game. Today, about 200,000 golfers are playing on approximately 85 golfing facilities within the Lower Mainland. By 2011, it is estimated that 318,000 golfers will be playing on 119 golf courses. With a projected demand of an additional 34 golf courses over the next 15 years, locating suitable golf course development sites may be difficult, as local and provincial authorities are cautious about these 150 acre land uses that cause many land use and environmental conflicts. Golf course developers are commonly confronted with seven main concerns from the public and local government when a new development is proposed. The most heavily scrutinized of these concerns is the loss of agricultural land, the loss of wildlife habitat, and the amounts of chemicals used on golf courses. These are followed by increased water consumption levels, errant golf balls causing injury or damage, unwanted urban growth following these recreational developments, and lost recreational opportunities to non-golfers in the community. To varying degrees, these concerns can stall the golf course planning process, or even cause a municipality to reject an application. The golf course concerns were assessed in this thesis to discern how significant the issues are, and how planners and developers throughout North America are addressing them. The analysis is based on information gathered from public meetings, interviews, municipal planning reports, a general literature review and a case study. The result of the analysis is a set of planning guidelines designed to promote better golf courses. If the planning guidelines outlined in this thesis are followed, future and existing courses can become functional, environmentally sensitive and aesthetic land uses, characterized by: • sites that do not conflict with an Official Community Plan; • land fill sites reclaimed into a working recreational land use with native vegetation and wildlife; • chemical turf care management plans; • comprehensive construction plans to protect against erosion and plant damage; • protection zones for sensitive on-site habitats; • mixtures of native turf grass, plants, shrubs, and trees within the site; • nearby secondary sewage treatment plant to provide effluent for irrigation; • drainage systems that feed excess water into retention ponds for re-use; • designs that provide park and recreation space (where feasible) within the site; • proper setbacks or buffering spaces between the playing areas and nearby housing (where applicable); • multi-teed target-style golf course design layout for all skill levels.

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