Experience mapping and multifunctional golf course development - enhanced possibilities for increased and more varied use of golf courses


Better multifunctional use of golf courses is the basis for this project, which aims at integrating and enhancing ecosystem services and recreational functions. The overall aim is to strengthen the ecological and recreational footprint of golf courses and improve economic sustainability, as multifunctional use will appeal to different user groups/clients.

The results show that golf courses constitute an important frame for many multifunctional activities, including recreational use, historical and cultural aspects and values. However this frame is not fully utilised at present. A survey provided detailed knowledge on e.g. the benefits, problems and possibilities golf players perceive in relation to multifunctional use of golf courses. Such knowledge is essential for ‘smoother’ promotion of new initiatives. For five study golf courses, existing and future opportunities for multifunctional use were reviewed and a number of unused opportunities identified and suggested for inclusion in future multifunctional development. Based on on-site analysis, different themes were selected for the five courses (cultural history, ecological values, birds etc.) to exploit their actual strengths.

A survey at each of golf course based on the members list was followed by meetings with golf course managers and members where different challenges and barriers to multifunctional development were unveiled. One main barrier was cost, as development of multifunctional facilities will not necessarily improve golf course finances from day one. Other important barriers were that some multifunctional activities require investment and internal differences among golf course members. The data revealed a relatively large group of members who are generally against multifunctional use of golf courses, particularly for recreational uses that allow non-golfers access to the course. Hence it is important for golf courses to establish dialogue with their members on future developments.

Golf courses participating in the project have begun work, but for other golf courses to benefit the results need to be promoted by the national golf federations. The experience method is relatively straight-forward and designed so it does not require researchers or specialists. Golf course staff can easily adapt it for use as background for future increased multifunctionality.

Overall benefits from this project for golf clubs might be more players, a positive image in society and golf club members appreciating their course more fully.

In 2015 a handbook was produced. This was translated to Swedish and complemented with additional environmental information relevant to Swedish golf courses by STERF.
The complete report and a handbook based on the results can be found below!

Category: Multifunctional golf facilities
Status: Finished
Project period: August 2011 - January 2015

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Project objectives

• A literature overview of existing knowledge in relation to multifunctionality of golf courses, including motives and attitudes among stakeholders and economic benefits to golf courses
• Development of a mapping system for golf courses based on existing and potential experiences
• Mapping of existing and potential experiences on the participating golf courses
• Development of specific multifunctionality plans for the participating golf courses
• Survey of golf players’ attitudes towards multifunctional use of golf courses
• Test of designated areas/experience values
• Assessment of the economic potential of specific actions and developments associated with multifunctional development – case studies in participating clubs

Project participants

Ole Hjorth Caspersen

Senior researcher

Forest and Landscape University of Copenhagen, Rolighedsvej 23, 1958 DK-Frederiksberg C. Denmark.


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