American Society of Golf Course Architects

ASGCA Foundation / USGA "First Links" Program

Welcome to the web page for the ASGCA Foundation / USGA “First Links” program for golf course owners/operators interested in reconfiguring their layouts and/or devoting open land to smaller scale facilities to allow new players to ease into the game.

“First Links” provides grants to applicants to pay for visits by ASGCA members to evaluate golf facilities for their potential to develop a short course or practice area, or to otherwise modify their existing layouts in a way to welcome new players. ASGCA member consultants will follow up their one-day visits with a site evaluation report describing ideas for layout or open land reconfiguration.


ASGCA has a long history of promoting golf courses to help welcome new players to the game. From the publication of “Building a Practical Golf Facility” by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, ASGCA in 2002 to the promotion of the “95 percent of golf courses most of the public plays on” by ASGCA’s 2011-2012 president Rick Phelps, ASGCA has trumpeted the importance of affordable, accessible golf.

This was a fine backdrop on which to place the “First Links” initiative, which harkens back to the founding of the PGA of America when renowned architect A.W. Tillinghast was invited to a January 17, 1916 luncheon in New York City to discuss the formation of a national association of golf professionals. Later, Tillinghast served from 1935-36 as a PGA consultant, traveling nationwide to review 370 facilities.

Tillinghast, whose masterpiece creations include Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J., and Winged Foot Golf Club of Mamaroneck, N.Y., also believed that golf should be fun for those “who paid to use the golf course.” Among his recommendations were the most efficient use of land, eliminating wasteful maintenance practices, and enhancing enjoyment of golf by reducing unnecessary bunkering and other design improvements. The PGA of America made the donation to the ASGCA Foundation to launch "First Links" in 2012.

The ASGCA Foundation is grateful to the PGA of America for kicking off the "First Links" program, and to the USGA for its support in the program's continuation.


Successful applicants will demonstrate an open mind to new ways to dedicate land—either on their existing layouts or in undeveloped areas—to growing the game by devoting space and resources to beginners or lapsed players.

Grant selection will be based on a variety of criteria, including how many applications are submitted and overall program resources (financial and availability of participating architects). Not all applicants will be awarded grants, and grants may be awarded to any type of golf facility (public, private, municipal, etc.).

To facilitate the Foundations’ administration efforts and review of the grant applications, the Foundation will be awarding grants three times a year. To ensure that your application is reviewed in a timely fashion, please submit your complete application to the Foundation prior to the applicable deadlines:

  • Deadline for summer grant: April 15
  • Deadline for a fall grant: July 15
  • Deadline for a winter grant: October 15

To apply, click on the button below to go to the application form. If you have any questions regarding the grant application or anything else related to the Foundation, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Apply for the "First Links" Program Now »