Community Perceptions of Golf Course Landscapes: Lessons Learned from Arlington, Texas Case Studies
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The purpose of this study is to identify the resident perceptions of golf course landscapes in communities around golf courses within Arlington, Texas. It specifically focuses on the residents’ feelings evoked by the golf course landscapes as well as any impact to the residents’ lives outside of actually playing golf. The study seeks to find connections between traditional golf course design and urban design around the edges of golf courses extending outward to the surrounding communities. The physical relationships between golf courses with their surrounding communities vary. Especially in suburban settings, there is a strong connection between the course and the nearby residential development, creating a condition in which the golf course is an integral part of the character of the community. However, residential development that does not have a direct connection to the golf course is still affected by the golf course landscape and the physical and functional relationships between them. By studying the resident perceptions in communities surrounding golf courses, valuable lessons can be learned and applied to future golf course design as well as urban design around golf course landscapes. Much of the research on golf course design examines how the design affects the player or what impacts the design has on the environment (Hudson 2009; Hedges 2013). There are also studies concerning connections between golf and culture (Ibsen 2012). However, little research has been published that concerns how people feel about nearby courses and their landscapes. The attributes of golf course landscapes that affect the perceptions and lives of surrounding residents should be taken into account when designing a golf course’s layout, landscaping and infrastructure. Through the use of interviews with those living around certain golf courses in Arlington, the study will gain valuable insight into which attributes of a golf course’s landscape are most affecting perception, how these attributes are doing so and what other factors surrounding golf course design play a part in affecting resident perception. Data were obtained through open ended interviews with residents of communities surrounding three golf courses in Arlington, Texas: Chester W. Ditto Golf Course, Rolling Hills Country Club and Meadowbrook Golf Course. Secondary sources were also used to obtain data to better understand the community dynamics of the area being studied. Interview questions focus on perceptions the interviewee has on the physical characteristics of a nearby golf course landscape. Interview questions were designed to discover interview responses both unsolicited by the researcher as well as more pointed, solicited responses. These data were then analyzed to determine commonly held themes and perceptions. The researcher identifies these themes and categorizes responses in order to better sort and understand how responses are linked and what stories they might be telling about the golf course landscapes. This study identifies the perceptions of residents living near golf course landscapes and provides insight into how these perceptions can inform future golf course landscape and urban design. After analyzing the interview data, the study concludes that visual connections to a golf course landscape are highly important to residents living near a golf course. Residents seemed to respond particularly strongly to the visual perceptions they hold from viewing the golf courses in passing by vehicle and as a pedestrian. The physical relationships of residential development to the golf courses are determined to be important because of the impact these physical relationships have on visual access. Interviewees focused primarily on natural design elements of the golf course landscapes such as trees, water and other vegetation. The quality, size, quantity and maintenance of which were aspects that residents directly responded to. By learning from these conclusions, future design of golf course landscapes and urban design near golf courses can better enrich the lives of residents in those communities and increase the value the residents place on the golf course itself.