American Society of Golf Course Architects

Environmental Case Study: Granite Links Golf Course – Degraded Site Development through Shared Projects

A highway relocation and tunnel project in Boston, Mass., allowed John Sanford, ASGCA to reuse a large landfill as open space and create a championship golf course as part of the Quarry Hills Recreational Complex. Located in both the Town of Milton and City of Quincy, the complex includes the 27-hole Granite Links Golf Course, in addition to athletic fields, rock climbing sites, and hiking trails.

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Granite Links Golf Course, Town of Milton and City of Quincy, Mass. - Before

In 1989, the city of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts were preparing to undertake an extensive tunnel project for the relocation of a major highway. At the same time, two nearby municipalities were looking at the closure and end-use of a large landfill located in both of their jurisdictions. Developers saw advantages for both projects and proposed using the material excavated from the tunnel for the closure of the landfill and enhancement of degraded areas of the site.

Altogether, almost 500 acres of land was assembled for the site of the complex, which was surrounded on two sides by a wilderness park. Abandoned quarries on the site had become filled with rubbish over time, and eventually, many areas were classified as badly contaminated wetlands. Permitting the development of a golf course on top of this landfill—in two different communities—was a significant challenge. Due to its complexity, location, and borders of protected state forests, the project required more than 100 permits and amendments.

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Granite Links Golf Course, Town of Milton and City of Quincy, Mass. - After

The landfill also had to be “closed” by being capped with specific layers and depths of material. Each of the layers had to feather into the edges of the wetlands, skirt the historic work sites, and allow the grading requirements for the features of the golf course. The golf course architect designed green complexes and other features to allow construction without disturbing the “seal” of the layers for drainage and irrigation systems, as well as collection of gases.

The site’s natural and historic resources presented both challenges and opportunities to the architect and design team. Quarries were incorporated into the course’s design as strategic features, and new and existing wetlands influence strategy and enhance aesthetics. Two large lined ponds were constructed to provide storage for course irrigation, and the ponds’ edges incorporate additional wetlands.

During construction and the grow-in period of the course, surface drainage and run-off on the site presented other challenges. An extensive storm water management program was implemented to protect wetlands and other ecological features within the complex and nearby residential areas. The design of the course, the drainage system, and the site’s elevation changes allowed about 65 percent of the runoff from irrigation and storms to be recovered for reuse on the course.

Infrastructure enhancement of the Boston cityscape allowed for the beneficial reuse of a landfill site and adjacent areas as a recreational facility, with project expertise provided by Sanford and his consultant team. Residents and visitors will enjoy the complex for years to come.

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