That is a good list. Certainly some of those things get overlooked.
What is the land like? The better the quality of the terrain and foliage, the more potential and experienced designer is likely to draw out. Looks like you have the lake, some wooded areas, and hills to work with? How much traffic does the park road get? If not much, it could be a useful source for OB, otherwise stay farther away. Can you get close enough to the lake to bring it in play on some holes? What kind of trees does the park have? Are the 4-5 dense areas useable to play through, or is it a swamp in there?
Here are some notes in case it ends up helping any.
I'd say the 2 biggest things that make a course design interesting or boring is the use of strategy and the variety. Here are some other questions you could ask about the course design.
*Is someone going to get hurt? Saftey first!
*How friendly is the course to the player? Huge walks between tees? Does the course loop back to parking after 9? Restrooms nearby anywhere?
*Is the course designed for a specific skill level? Blue, or 950 rated is recommended for most courses. This gives amateurs many of different skills to develop while still offerering challenge to pros. Setting a skill base gives a perspective. You canâ€™t design a course where every hole suits every skill level from the same set of tees.
*Could there be a 2nd set of tees for beginners, such as a red tee, 850 rated skill level layout? Dual tees are a much better way to adjust the difficulty than moving pins great distances. Dual tees would give the course something other KC courses lack. If this park could support this, it would need to be designed this way from the beginning to be the most effective. If the long tees are exceptionally challenging, a shorter set gives new players a place to start and keeps them encouraged. These new players are the future of the sport.
*Does the course offer variety? There are a lot of different ways to measure it.
-Distance. A good course should have everything from 200â€™ wooded short holes to 600+ par 4â€™s.
-Scoring. An even better way to gauge difficulty variety is looking at scoring data or at least estimating it with design tools. A great course would have holes (for a certain skill level) producing scores averaging 2.5, 2,8, 3.0, (stay away from 3.1 to 3.4) 3.5, 3.7, 4.0, 4.5+. On the 3.1-3.4 note: scores that average just under a whole number are better than those averaging just over, because they separate the better players. More fun, less frustration.
-Par. If the course produces these different scoring averages, it should break away from the â€œall par 3â€ thinking and actually pursue the course in terms of both par 3 and par 4 holes, and even consider par 5. The higher the par, often the greater the variety.
-Shot selection. Good lefty vs. righty mix? Very few courses really have this. How about low routes and high routes? Most courses have one or the other. How about the actual shot used? A good course should encourage a variety of shots off the tee. Overstable drivers, understable, straight drivers, mid ranges, even putters, tomahawks, rollers, etc.
-Use of foliage. Does the course have mostly open holes, wooded holes, partially wooded holes (holes playing into, out of, or though a section of dense vegetation)?
-Fairway shape. Does the course offer have fairways with obstacles through the middle with dual routes to the sides, as well as tunnel shot holes?
-Elevation. Uphill, downhill, sidehill, diagonal up or down, flat. A hole that does 2 or more of these? Combining elevation and distance and foliage variables to get 18 unique holes makes for much more interesting golf than a typical flat course.
*Does the course encourage the use of strategic play? This is a very subtle, but key element to the enjoyment of a course. Does the course give opportunities to the player who plays smart? Or is it always about the player who executes the most aggressive shot? Does the player have to think to score well?
-Risk vs. Reward. This could be anything from a shortcut tunnel though the woods to a hole that plays diagonally over a part of the lake. Itâ€™s tough to balance the risk vs. reward on a hole with several different routes, but itâ€™s a beautiful thing when it happens.
-Correct Length. Itâ€™s tempting for many people designing courses to put baskets where it takes a perfect (long) throw for a player to have a putt. In reality, these holes get birdied less than 5% of the time, while if it is an open hole, they are too short to bogey. No use of strategy on this type of hole.
-Scoring Spread. A good hole will produce a good scoring spread. If it is a fair hole with a reasonable fairway, this means a better chance the hole can be played strategically. On an open hole, a hole averaging 3.5 (in-be-â€œtweenerâ€ hole) may not be terrible, because it at least gets 2 numbers instead of mainly just 1 (automatic par hole). But a hole that produces 3 or more numbers regularly is even better. Here are some ways to produce good scoring spread.
==Use of trees. Trees near the tee and trees near the pin are especially effective.
==Use of OB. Great tool, but can make a hole unfair if safe routes arenâ€™t available.
==Wind. What is the windiest location on the course? It can be used in the design.
==Downhill bombs. Things can get squirrelly when the wind has the potential to carry shots far off target as is much more the case on downhill throws.
==Difficulty of approach. Great fairways often get tighter the closer you get to the green. Targets should be far enough away from trees that catch discs so that the trees arenâ€™t used to an advantage.
==Difficulty of green. This is a huge one. A green with a sidehill or downhill approach makes upshots & putting so much more critical. Even a simple elevated mound can make a boring pin interesting. Some trees close to the basket can make things much more complicated. Many designers will say to start with finding the best pin locations and connect the course from there.
*Does the course utilize Par 4+ style holes? This ties in both variety and strategy. The shame is that many courses only have 1 par 4, if that, and it is a wide open 800â€™ hole where 3 or 5 isnâ€™t very likely. While itâ€™s often difficult to find terrain that utilizes their potential, par 4â€™s can be much more interesting than par 3â€™s. Holes can have many more routes to the pin. Dogleg holes are rare gems that are highly strategic. Risk vs. Reward abounds if created properly. Par 4â€™s do not have to be long, but can reward shots that reach landing areas that set up a 2nd shot. Itâ€™s hard to find the good par 4â€™s as different thinking is needed. As Houck says, a good way to visualize it is to think of combining 2 separate holes into 1.