Yannick Pilon Golf - Golf Course Architecture, Golf Course Design

Club de Golf de la Vallée du Richelieu (Verchères Course), Ste-Julie, Quebec - Hole no. 3 Link to the Contact page Lien vers la page en français Link to Yannick Pilon Golf's Twitter page Link to Yannick Pilon Golf's blog page

Design Philosophy

Golf has always been about emotions. Anticipation, joy, surprise, confusion, doubt, even fear and anger -- these are all examples of emotions that golfers can and should experience as they play a round of golf.  It is the repetition of the good emotions, and the overcoming of the bad ones, that makes this sport so rewarding for golfers of all ages and all playing levels.

There are three main elements to strive for while planning a golf course: using the site's natural beauty and elements, thoughtful planning offering many options, and establishing features of classic beauty. When these elements are artfully combined, the pieces of the puzzle are in place to create the emotions and memories that will keep golfers coming back time and again.

The following are cornerstones of our thought process as we plan and build a golf course:

Create emotions in golfers to impart lasting memories in their minds

It is important to create golf courses that create emotion responses in golfers. These responses will in turn create lasting memories. By creating holes that offer different options and a variety of golfing situations, the golfer's imagination is stimulated and they are forced to think their way throughout the course and forced to take decisions.

It is also important to create situations where golfers will have to surpass their abilities in order to succeed. In these situations, they will be forced to take on what appears to be a daunting task, and in turn may come to doubt their own abilities. They might fail on a few occasions, but when they succeed, this experience will be remembered for a long time. Of course, this cannot be overdone, but we feel every type of golfer wants to be challenged at one point or another during a round, regardless of his abilities.

An optical illusion is another way to create confusion in golfers. Thoughtful placement of hazards to hide certain parts of fairways from which a better angle can be obtained, or making a green appear closer than it actually is, are just two ways to create an interesting experience golfers will want to try repeatedly.

Use the natural features of the sites as the base for the style and character of the courses

The style and character of a golf course should always be inspired by the natural elements of the site on which it is to be built. The style and character of golf courses should also be inspired by the site’s native vegetation. Similar to A.W. Tillinghast, who didn’t have a singular approach to design, we like to vary the style of the courses we work on to reflect the sites they are built on.

Use the natural features of the sites as the base for the strategy of the golf holes

Nature usually provides the best features to define a strategy for a specific golf hole. Why then, if nature has sculpted a perfect puzzle, would one choose to impose man made features upon the land? This does not mean that features cannot or should not be created to add character to a golf hole. It simply means that the architect should strive to use what nature has provided, before disturbing the land to fit his own personal style.

Create features of classic beauty

A golf course is a work of art just as much as it is a playing field. Golf course architects should do everything they can to create artful features that will please the golfer's eye, while challenging them as well. Golf course architecture is an opportunity for an architect to create 18 different art pieces. Moreover, by selecting proper tee sites, the architects have the opportunity to artfully frame each of the 18 works of art.

Quirkiness and unpredictability should be embraced

Most golf courses built recently are becoming too predictable and overly manicured. It is becoming common to "over-shape" the land in order to implement design ideas and create perfect conditions almost everywhere on the golf courses. This is, frankly, uninspiring. Architects should embrace the natural imperfections found in the natural state of the site they are working with, and they should use these imperfections as the basis of their designs. This concept will create unpredictable elements, and will lead to more emotional reactions during the round, as golfers tackle the elements and discover the course's subtleties and particularities.

Rules are meant to be broken! Embrace your individuality!

The best golf courses in the world often prove that the rules of golf course architecture are meant to be broken when the situation is right. Two back to back par threes or par fives? Why not, if the land is right for it! A course with a par of 70 as opposed to the traditional par of 72? You risk having better scores and a quicker round! A course with a length of 6,600 yards as opposed to the new norm of 7,000+ yards? Who plays regularly from those back tees anyway, are they really necessary? We will not shy away from thinking outside the box if it means creating a unique course that will maximize the use of your site.

An important presence on site during the construction

There is no need to create precise plans and detailed illustrations if you let contractors and operators interpret them as they wish during the construction. Plans and illustrations are useful to estimate projects costs and to let clients understand the architect's vision, but these elements cannot replace the architect's presence on site during the construction to insure that his vision will be respected. The construction phase is where we have the opportunity to use all the extent of our talent to ensure that all the details of the course reflect our vision.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to know more about this subject on which we could elaborate for hours!

5795, Ave. De Gaspé, Suite 207, Montreal, Quebec, H2S 2X3, CANADA Tel.: 514.917.4327 E-mail: ypilon@yannickpilongolf.com

Copyright Yannick Pilon Golf 2017