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The Case for Regeneration

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| BY DESIGN The for Regeneration Case went camping a few weeks back with the family. On one of the days we decided to go on a walk through some of the coastal sand dunes that made up much of the nature park where we were staying. As a golf architect anytime I see sand and dunes I get excited and so it was not long before I said out loud how good this terrain would make for golf. At that point my wife pointed out how much better it is as a nature walk. I couldn’t blame her; she’s not really into golf. But what of the case where both a golfer and a non-golfer could enjoy a piece of property together – would that not make for the perfect situation? In the past, in places like Scotland, the courses were (and sometimes still are) treated as common land by the residents of the nearby town and used for recreational activities other than just golf. In fact not too long ago courses were used for all manner of purposes, from being a place for animals to graze to, somewhat oddly, laundering clothes. Admittedly a golf course takes up a fairly large parcel of land – on average about 75 hectares (or approximately 185 acres) – so one could make the argument that within such a large space surely we could accommodate other activities. I understand it’s not that easy when you start to think about security and safety but I can’t help but think how much more my wife would enjoy the game – and certainly the surrounds – if she were allowed the opportunity to walk any golf course she chooses, at least along some of the cart paths or where paths were manufactured for recreation other than golf. Certainly some of my favourite golf courses I Award-winning architect Paul Jansen considers a world in which golf courses are not solely the exclusive domain of golfers. are just as enjoyable to walk – and appreciate the environment – without golf clubs in tow as they are with. When you think about mixed use and golf something I believe to be very feasible is the opportunity to grow an edible crop of sorts within the golf boundary – which would of course restricted to the far rough areas. This might at first sound a bit ludicrous but I have fond memories growing up in South Africa where it was not uncommon to pick fruit – I am thinking a mango or banana – from some of the native trees bounding the golf holes. I certainly survived to live another day and I don’t recall seeing anything on my bill for mangos and bananas. I am not advocating rows and rows of apple and pear trees – although in areas out of sight and out of play this is a possibility – but I can’t see any harm having some edible crop around the course if indeed it is native to the area and adds to the character of the land. Perhaps this would make more sense if the crop itself were used by the golf course / resort or for some other noble cause, as was the case at the Laguna Lang Co golf course in Vietnam, a project in which I was the lead architect. At Laguna Lang Co rice paddy fields were regenerated – and strategically bordered four of the golf holes – and could at one time produce up to 30 tonnes of rice from two harvests each year, much of which was used in the resort itself and some donated to local orphanages. This has created a win-win situation as visiting golfers have been able to experience and interact with this unique feature. Needless to say this is not something you see every day. One of the buzz terms in course design HKGOLFER.COM At Laguna Lang Co rice paddy fields were regenerated – and strategically bordered four of the golf holes – and could at one time produce up to 30 tonnes of rice from two harvests each year, much of which was used in the resort itself and some donated to local orphanages. today is “regenerative design”. It may not get as much mention as “sustainable design” or “sustainability” but it is equally important. By definition: “Regenerative and sustainable are essentially the same thing except for one key point: in a sustainable system, lost ecological systems are not returned to existence. In a regenerative system, those lost systems can ultimately begin “regenerating” back into existence. Put more simply, regenerative systems create a better world than we (humans) found it, now and into the future.” As we design and redesign and build more golf courses I believe we can do a better job at regenerating lost systems – where they existed – even if they don’t have an “edible” benefit. I can bet that by doing this exercise (regeneration) it will give the course added character, a sense of place and make it more identifiable and distinct – all of this being important in golf design and in helping improve the overall golf experience. Make no mistake, there are so many wonderful golf courses on this planet that have dramatically improved their space. I think of golf courses built on landfill sites and in old quarries, and this has to be a good thing. But I have sometimes wondered how many golf courses built on remarkable land – with remarkable HKGOLFER.COM Laguna Lang Co in Vietnam (opposite top), in which the author was involved as lead architect, produces up to 30 tonnes of rice per year; goats graze on the rough grass at Tiger Beach Golf Links (opposite bottom) in Shandong province, China 40 HK GOLFER・SEP 2015 existing features – have completely utilised what was there to start with. To conclude, a golf course as part of a mixed use facility may sound crazy today but as we continue to compete for food and land and clientele it could become a very real concept into the future. As golf facilities – old and new – look to stay afloat, make money and remain competitive in the market place they will need to look at other resourceful ways of doing things. Perhaps the idea of a mix-use facility is not that farfetched. HK GOLFER・SEP 2015 41

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