Reading The Green Newsletter

NLT Symposium on Municipal Golf - The Takeaways

The National Links Trust hosted their 2nd annual "Symposium on Municipal Golf" in October 2022, and Staples Golf was there to check out the action! Read more about our key takeaways from the event and presenters in this issue of RTG.

NLT Symposium on Municipal Golf - The Takeaways (180 second read)

Reading the Green is a "quick hit" quarterly newsletter sent by Staples Golf, a Scottsdale based Golf Course Architecture firm that works on behalf of Municipal stakeholders like you. In each issue, we explore community-focused topics all Municipal stakeholders should be keeping an eye on.

Community Golf Fan,

Since its founding in 2019, the National Links Trust has been one of the most active champions in the promotion, preservation, and improvement of municipal golf… or as we like to call it, comMUNIty golf!  This October, the organization hosted their second annual “Symposium on Municipal Golf” which brought together facility managers, PGA and USGA experts, golf architects, and other industry activists from across the country to share ideas on the state of the game.

I had the privilege of being invited as a guest speaker this year, and was amazed by the support this event has garnered in just 2 years.  For those of you who didn’t make it out (or tune in), I figured I’d use this issue of Reading the Green to share some of the key takeaways.

1.  Big Opportunities on the Horizon!

My first impression from the NLT Symposium was this: now is the time for community golf to take off!  We’ve seen it in the successes of the NLT, and the recent influx of interest from all levels of the golf industry tells me the municipal market has the potential to absolutely skyrocket.  Communities will still need their LOCAL quarterback to stimulate this change, but the NLT is certainly writing the guide for how to get these types of projects – and support – off the ground.

Aerial image of the reversible Walter Travis design at East Potomac

2.  We Need to Showcase Our Historic Munis

As we covered in the previous Reading the Green (click here to read), there is a huge demand in today’s golf market for community courses with a history.  A shining example of this has been the NLT’s efforts at East Potomac – a course touched by architects Walter J. Travis AND William Flynn that is now under consideration as a Cultural Landscape of Significance due to its unique architecture and role in the Civil Rights movement.  Read more on that here.

Concept plan for The Loop at Chaska (credit: Barrier Free Golf)

3.  Nurturing the Roots

The NLT presentation on “The Loop” project in Chaska, MN provided an incredible example of how far the roots of municipal golf can reach with the rigth vision.  Barrier Free Golf, the driving non-profit, was able to raise over $1 million in donations to supplement the City's funding, and course architect Ben Warren was able to rally a team of world-class shapers, irrigation specialists, and local contractors – all for a 9-hole short course in Minnesota.

Many of us in the golf industry today found our love for the game at a municipal facility.  That’s why I believe everyone in the business – golf architects included – has a responsibility to give back to community golf.  When we do, great things happen… and The Loop is testament to that power!

The "Paragolfer" developed by the RAD Society - the next big step in golf's ADA accessibility

4.  Accessibility in Action

One of my favorite presentations of this year’s Symposium was on the future of adaptive golf design – a design vision that promotes ADA accessibility in golf.  The vision of Barrier Free Golf in Chaska (previous section) is a prime example.

But the work doesn’t end with course design – it requires innovations in golf technology, too.  Tanelle Bolt and her team at the RAD Society been working on just that!  Their latest invention dubbed the “Paragolfer” has been a breakthrough in making golf more accessible for the physically impaired.  Check out more of what they’ve been up to here.

Picture with a few of the many industry partners that made Rockwind Community Links a success!

5.  It Takes Everyone!!

My biggest take away from the NLT Symposium was this: it takes an industry-wide effort to make community golf great.  Know that as a municipal operator, you’re not in this alone.  Partnerships with organizations like the NLT, industry professionals, golf architects, local businesses, and your community are what make the best municipal facilities special.

From East Potomac to The Loop at Chaska to our Staples Golf flagship project at Rockwind Community Links, the value of the right partnerships has been proven time and time again.  If your facility is looking to join the ranks, the best first step is to make the connection!

What you need to know:

• The National Links Trust and other industry leaders are making headway towards the future success of community golf… and Staples Golf is here to help!

• Municipal facilities are the heart of the game, and there is a responsibility amongst industry professionals to give back to their roots.

• Innovators such as Barrier Free Golf and the RAD Society are demonstrating why accessibility can be the greatest opportunity for the future of community golf.

Great design matters and should be a focus at every facility!!

• As a municipal operator, know that organizations like the NLT, industry professionals, and even local partners can and SHOULD be engaged for the success of your facility.

Until next time— in comMUNIty golf we trust!

Andy Staples, ASGCA

Andy Staples

Andy Staples, ASCGA member and principal of Staples Golf Design, was brought to golf at the age of seven by his dad, having learned the game at West Bend Country Club, in West Bend, WI, a turn of the century course designed by Langford & Moreau.

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