American Society of Golf Course Architects

Environmental Case Study: Hunting Hawk Golf Club - Water Conservation and Habitat Enhancement

Bill Love, ASGCA, designed Hunting Hawk Golf Club in Glen Allen, Virginia, with a particular sensitivity to environmental issues due to the site’s existing characteristics and its location adjacent to the headwaters of the Chicohominy River. Love’s environmental approach to the property, formerly used for timber production, included the incorporation of naturalized areas, creation of wetland buffers for water quality protection, a reduction in the amount of high maintenance turf, formation of habitat for indigenous wildlife, formation of an on-site water recycling system, and establishment of an irrigation system for water conservation.

Hunting Hawk Golf Course was planned as an amenity for the expansion of a planned community. The developers’ objectives for the course were to provide an affordable, enjoyable golf experience that also respected the site’s environmental sensitivity and emphasized the property’s natural character. The land itself offered great opportunities for a course, with its gently rolling topography and areas of mature trees, but site constraints also required the architect to find innovative ways of preserving wetland areas and creating water sources for irrigation.

Hunting_Hawk_16_for_Book_Article
Hole 16, Hunting Hawk Golf Club, Glen Allen, Virginia

Due to minimal groundwater resources and a low base flow in the nearby river, the architect designed a series of ponds and streams throughout the golf course to capture surface runoff during rain events and to recycle irrigation water. Rainfall provides the only source of water for irrigation. The ponds and streams are incorporated as strategic and aesthetic features for golf holes, but they also all flow into one large impoundment of over eight acres in the lower portion of the property, which is the source for irrigation water.

Conservation areas were used as vegetative buffers to the ponds for water quality control, so surface drainage is filtered through these buffers and again through the created system of wetlands before running into the existing wetlands and then on to the river. The irrigation system is designed to allow reductions in the application of water to the highly maintained areas of each hole, as well as the primary roughs during dry weather conditions, and no irrigation is provided in the secondary roughs or conservation areas.

Keeping conservation and management of water resources as priorities, maintained areas were limited to spots necessary to provide a reasonable challenge and pace for public play. Besides a minor amount of secondary rough, all other out-of-play areas were established as conservation areas. Grasses for the course’s maintained areas provide the most drought tolerance and the best playing conditions with reduced irrigation.

Residential areas were placed on the periphery of the course to minimize wetland impacts. The course’s final routing incorporated most wetlands as features with less than a half-acre impact. Using the wetlands and conservation areas as features helped establish the course’s natural character and enhance the diversity of wildlife habitat on the property.

Environmental considerations in the design of Hunting Hawk Golf Club have led to lower than average water usage and annual maintenance costs on the golf course, which then contributes to the course’s ability to offer the public an enjoyable and affordable golf experience.

To read more Environmental Case Studies, please visit here.