Golf in the Park

How North Vancouver set the precedence for fitting golf into their community at Sam Walker Park

Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Parks Manager Dave Turner putt at Sam Walker Park

One resident had the idea to bring golf to this small park in North Vancouver.  It was a space in the park that was seldom used because of the slope of the hill and the shade that it gets.  But, with the advantages of synthetic turf in a situation like this, it would be all too possible to create a golf green that fills the space in a way that would look like the park was designed around it.  The Mayor at the time, Darrell Mussatto, liked the idea.  The “said resident” had a petition signed by neighbours and took it to a council meeting some weeks later.  She made a harrowing case for golf in the community, the Council was all on board, they fast tracked the project, and away we go – we now have golf in a small park in North Vancouver.

Mr. Mussatto put his Section Parks Manager and student of golf course architecture, Dave Turner, on the job to lead the project.  This project was Mr. Turner’s as much as anyone’s as he knows what it means to kids to be able to try golf for the first time.  Golf can be a meaningful experience that has the capacity to change one’s life, as it did his.  Mr. Turner did an excellent job of negotiating the sloping terrain with a living retaining wall, utilizing the City’s own resources to do the brunt of the base preparations and finally searching out and hiring the most qualified firm to be able to create what he envisioned for the project : )

Me testing out the installation with rhododendrons in bloom

The golf green turned out to be a great success.  As Mr. Turner, Mr. Mussatto and I have all witnessed, the golf green remains busy daily.  There will be mother and child relaxing, workers having a contest on their lunch break and even husband and wife settling disputes on the putting green.  That’s right, when I ran into one of the neighbours on a routine visit to the park, she told me that her whole family uses the golf green almost every day. She also mentioned that her and her husband settle their arguments in a good old-fashioned putt-off. Amazing!

People enjoying the new green

The community members who were opposed at first are now on board and see the delight that has come from this simple park addition, the coffee shop across the street has set out a bin of putters and balls to be used by anyone at any time, and over 5 years after the installation, the green is still doing well.

Putter bin at the neighbouring coffee shop – free to use.
A usable surface throughout drought season

And now, as we have seen the proof of concept first-hand, we can use this example as a spring board to inspire other communities to do the same.  For relatively low cost, and a very manageable maintenance practice, a golf green in your local park is the perfect addition.  If people, especially kids, can ride their bike to the park and try golf like they can with almost all other sports, well, I for one would think that is pretty special.

Golf is Canada’s most popular sport year over year.  Imagine what we can do with this game if we just find ways to scale it down for everyone to enjoy!

Please read more about the Sam Walker Park project in this British Columbia Golf Article (exerpt below)

…young kids through to seniors living nearby all love coming out to the green. Mussatto believes these types of projects work really well in high-density areas of the city where most people do not have backyards. “People can come out of their apartments, have their own little putter and ball and go. These are things that don’t take up a lot of space, they have a high utility, and not a lot of cost. They check all the boxes of what you want to see in the community.”

Blending colour, texture, and fibre height to complement natural grasses grown on the West Coast of British Columbia.

1 thought on “Golf in the Park”

  1. Clearly the nearby residents of this park has enjoyed what this putting green has brought them, and it would be great to see more municipalities and communities draw inspiration from the success of this project in North Vancouver. I can only imagine that other surrounding cities also have areas that could be better utilized with a golf park such as this, to which community residents of all ages could enjoy.

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