Artisan Golf Design’s Master Plan for The Classic Golf Club, in Fukuoka, Japan, has been approved. The golf course will be converted from two-green to one-green architecture, with construction starting in January 2023.
Of Japan’s nearly 2,000 golf courses, around half are believed to have side-by-side putting greens on each hole. When this convention emerged in the 1950s, it was driven by agronomic needs. The leading golf architects of the era were often asked to design two sets of greens with different grasses on each hole: a zoysia green for summer and a bentgrass green for winter. Thanks to the emergence of modern turfgrass cultivars, which can handle Japan’s significant climatic swings, the two green convention is gradually being abandoned.
The Classic’s twenty-seven-hole layout traverses a low mountain range flanked by the Fukuoka-Kitakyushu metropolitan area on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. Three nine-hole loops – the King, Queen and Prince courses – were laid out in 1990 by Shoichi Suzuki and Yuzo Tanimizu on the restored landscape of the former Kaijima coal mine. The redesign project will start with the King and Queen courses, an eighteen-hole configuration which has hosted a number of elite professional and amateur events, most recently the 2020 Japan Women’s Open.
Redesigning from two greens on each hole is significant. Including practice putting greens, The Classic is currently maintaining a total of fifty-six greens, every day, for its twenty-seven holes. The material and manpower costs are unnecessarily high. Reducing the maintained acreage of these greens is a sustainability win.
But from the architectural standpoint the opportunity is even greater. The redesign to one green creates opportunities for re-routing of golf holes and for the construction of new teeing areas.
The new greens will take inspiration from some of our favourite golf courses in the US and the UK. We’ll build elegant internal contours which are suitable for fast green speeds. Our use of runoff areas around the greens will help the course transition seamlessly from fun member play to a challenging tournament setup.