Golf Course Design Schools and Courses: How to Choose

Those who are interested in learning how to design a golf course may find training courses in a landscape architecture or a turfgrass science program. Programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional golf course designers and other landscape architects typically have at least a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture (www.bls.gov). Students may find classes in golf course design in landscape architecture programs, as well as turfgrass science programs, through the architecture or landscaping departments of 4-year colleges and universities.

10 Top Schools with Landscape Architecture or Turfgrass Science Programs

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $10,037 for in-state/$27,365 for out of state (undergraduate), $12,934 for in-state/$32,406 for out-of-state (graduate)**
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $10,176 for in-state/$28,768 for out-of-state (undergraduate), $8,656 for in-state/$18,183 for out-of-state (graduate)
California State Polytechnic Institute Pomona, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $7,016 for in-state/$18,176 for out-of-state (undergraduate), $8,282 for in-state/$17,210 for out-of-state (graduate)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's, Master's $49,116 (undergraduate), $32,000 (graduate)**
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $12,485 for in-state/$29,129 for out-of-state (undergraduate), $14,116 for in-state/$26,377 for out-of-state (graduate)
Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $9,714 for in-state/$26,877 for out-of-state (undergraduate), $10,954 (graduate)
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Master's, Postgraduate certificate $34,268
Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 4-year, Public Master's $9,972 for in-state/$21,459 for out-of-state
Purdue University West Lafeyette, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's $10,002 for in-state/$28,804 for out-of-state
University of Georgia Athens, GA 4-year, Public Certificate, Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral** $11,622 for in-state/$29,832 for out-of-state (undergraduate), $10,750 for in-state/$26,348 for out-of-state

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School website

School Selection Criteria

Important considerations for choosing a program centered around golf course design include:

  • Look for programs containing specific classes in golf course planning as well as construction methods and styles for fairways, greens, sand traps, and tees.
  • Turfgrass degrees may offer courses in golf course design and construction, covering things like the cultivation of turfgrass and the various types of turfgrass used in construction.
  • Some schools may have their own golf courses or partnerships with local courses to provide practical experience.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Landscape Architecture

A 4-year landscape architecture degree program typically combines ecology, urban studies, and design. Students may create a golf course concept for their design portfolios. Many B.S. in Landscape Architecture programs offer coursework in golf course design, landscape architectural design, and environmental design

Bachelor of Science in Turfgrass Science

Interdisciplinary degree programs like turfgrass management usually include courses in the fundamentals of golf course design and construction. Internship opportunities at turfgrass production companies or golf clubs may be required. Program content may address agricultural sciences, agronomy, soil science, plant pathology, and business management

Master of Landscape Architecture

Students may choose to earn a Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA). The MLA is a professional degree that prepares students for licensure. Graduate seminars and independent thesis research are usually required. Aside from studio classes, coursework may include, landscape theory, design software, and advanced techniques in landscape design

Three of the most common degrees to earn in order to become a golf course designer are the B.S. in Landscape Architecture, B.S. in Turfgrass Science, and Master of Landscape Architecture. These degrees, along with other programs like certificates in related disciplines, provide students with the skills to competently design golf courses and manage the resources that go into it from both architectural and environmental standpoints.

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