2018 National Planning Conference

Goodbye Golf Courses, Hello Public Parks

Monday, April 15, 2019 from 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. PDT

CM | 1.25

Activity Type: Educational Sessions

Activity ID: NPC198065

Location: 2008

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  • Examine global examples of successful conversion of private golf course into passive public parks and nature preserves. .
  • Identify techniques used for restoring manmade landscapes to more natural and sustainable habitats where flora and fauna can thrive.
  • Explore creative approaches for generating public support (particularly from affected/adjacent existing golf-oriented residential communities) and aligning competing interest groups to inform park and trail design concepts.


While golf is declining in popularity, not all failed courses are destined to become new subdivisions and redevelopment sites. Across the nation, towns and cities are taking bold steps to acquire shuttered clubs to meet community open space needs by transforming the acreage into public parks and nature preserves. However, converting a golf course to a public park presents tough questions and choices, including what to do with existing facilities such as club houses, pools, tennis courts and existing cart paths.

Courses appear green and healthy, but these artificial landscapes present myriad environmental issues and require remediation to restore flora and fauna. There is also the challenge of gaining support from neighbors who bought homes in golf-oriented communities not expecting to one day overlook a public park. On top of that, planners and designers must balance competing interests in defining appropriate future activities and uses within the new park space.

This session examines case studies of successful golf course to park conversions and offers tales from the team leading the transformation of a 139-acre site into a signature new park largely dedicated to wildlife habit and passive uses for people on foot, bike, and horseback.

This course is approved to offer 1.25 LU (AIA).

Session Speakers

Eric S. Bosman, AICP
Atlanta, GA

Mack Cain, RLA, LEED AP
Clark Patterson Lee

Jan Hancock
Hancock Resources LLC
Phoenix, AZ

Carter Lucas
City of Milton

Charlene Mingus, AICP