Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture


Landscape Architecture

First Advisor

Pat D. Taylor


Golf was originally a game played primarily on landscapes that were not manipulated by humans. As the game has matured, humans have exerted increasing influence on the design of golf courses. As in art, golf course architecture has developed its own set of principles and its own set of elements. The elements are the tools the artist uses to create the painting, while the principles guide how he/she implements these elements (Lovett 1999). In the case of golf course architects, the land is the canvas while the greens, tees, fairways, roughs, hazards, and contours are examples of the elements used on that canvas. The methods in which these elements are used constitute the principles of design (Shackelford 2003). The five design principles which have emerged are: aesthetics; naturalness; playability; originality; and strategy. These design principles merge to provide a playing field which players of differing skill levels can enjoy (Pugh 2003; Doak 1992). There are, however, certain unknowns about the design of golf courses; one unknown is a clear understanding of how golfers of amateur status as well as those of PGA professional status perceive the five design principle of golf course architecture. For example, many golf course architects believe that scratch golfers perceive the design quality of a golf course purely on the design principle of strategy and dismiss elements of aesthetics (Doak 1992). This research defines the five design principles of golf course architecture as described in literature and compares the differing perceptions among amateur and PGA professional golfers (Professional Golfers Association of America, 2010) to elements within the five principles of golf course architecture using in-depth interviewing as defined by Taylor and Bogdan (1998). The in-depth interviewing consists of questions regarding the design principles found on a specific set of golf holes at TPC Craig Ranch. The holes used for the research are Holes One, Two and Three at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. The criteria for selecting these holes are determined by the researcher, a registered landscape architect who is also a member of the Golf Course Architects Society of America. Holes One, Two and Three are determined to possess elements of all the principles of golf course architecture which provide a solid foundation for informative discussion. Those interviewed in the study have experienced play on these holes; therefore, it is assumed that they hold a certain familiarity with the elements displayed on each. What is unknown is how these players perceive these elements as related to the five design principles.The most effective methods in obtaining an understanding of how these two classes of golfers perceive the different elements within the five design principles is through qualitative research because "the data are descriptive and based on the perception of the interview subjects as stated in their own words" (Miller 2009; Taylor and Bogdan 1998, p.88). The primary means of data collection consists of open-ended interviews with subjects from amateur and PGA professional players regarding their experiences and perceptions of specific design elements within the given study site. The interviews continue until sufficient data is collected to determine the differences in perceptions of amateur and PGA professional to the five design principles of golf course architecture. The research concludes with a summary of findings which will provide golf course architects with a better understanding of how they can implement certain design elements to elicit increased interest among golfers of both amateur and PGA professional status.


Architecture | Landscape Architecture


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington