article image

The Case for Executive Courses: Big Fun in Small Packages

You’re short on time. Short on patience. And maybe a little short on disposable cash.

What’s a golfer to do?

Short answer: Tee it up on an executive course.

Hadn’t thought of that, had you?

The term “executive course” was coined by architect William Mitchell, who championed scaled-down layouts as a way for business executives to squeeze in a round “at the tail end of a hectic workday.”

As an alternative, Golf Digest architecture editor Ron Whitten has suggested “precision course” – a name that may well appeal to lower handicap golfers.

No matter what you call them, when you play them, these mighty mites never come up short.  Here are five good reasons to play an executive course soon… and often:

You’ll finish sooner

The typical executive course features more than eight par 3s, a handful of par 4s, and perhaps a par 5. Compare this to the average regulation layout with multiple par 4s & 5s and not as many par 3s, it stands to reason that an executive round is less time-consuming.

That’s never been more important and convenient than it is today during the winter months when darkness falls early.

On most executive courses, you can sneak in 18 holes in three hours or less. When’s the last time you played a full-size track that quickly?

charlie yates

Designed by famed golf course architect Rees Jones, The Yates Course offers a mix of challenging Par 3’s and 4’s with remarkable views of the downtown Atlanta skyline. Photo by: Charlie Yates Golf Course

Great bang for your buck

Because they’re more compact than conventional courses, executive facilities cost less to maintain. In general, you’ll pay about half to three-quarters the price of a regular round, but you’ll still use your full set of clubs.

Laid-back and family-friendly

Serious golfers tend to steer clear of executive courses. Their loss is a net gain for casual players, including beginners and families with kids.

While it’s still important to practice good golf etiquette, mellow types and neophytes find the game more relaxing when surrounded by their peers. What’s more, executive layouts are rarely as hazard-laden or thick of rough as their big siblings.


Sporting four sets of tees to suit every golfer’s ability, Seven Bridges at Springtree GC is the popular choice of South Florida’s golfer. Photo by: Spring Tee Golf Club

Perfect for walking

Many full-size courses require players to rent a cart. Some are simply not walker-friendly due to length or topography.

Executive courses, on the other hand, usually welcome walkers. At 3,500 – 5,500 yards for 18 holes, the trek is quite manageable, and you’ll seldom encounter long traverses between greens and tees.


Carved out of the pines with no harsh transition areas and no artificial landscaping, the Mountain course is all natural and a real challenge and joy to play. Photo by: Incline Village Golf Course

Good for your game

It’s probably the biggest misconception about executive courses: They’re not challenging enough for better golfers.

If your idea of a nice test is tackling the back tees at PGA West’s TPC Stadium Course, most executives probably won’t do it for you. But if you want to sharpen your irons and short game while getting in some work on your driving, then a heavy dose of one-shotters mixed with a few longer holes is just what the doctor ordered.

Here are some of our favorites on GolfNow:


Augusta Ranch GC – Mesa

Executive at Mountain Shadows GC (currently under renovation) – Paradise Valley


Lincoln Park GC – San Francisco

Oaks North GC (27 holes) – San Diego

Executive at Vista Valencia GC – Valencia


Seven Bridges at Springtree GC – Sunrise


Charlie Yates GC (9 holes) – Atlanta


Mountain at Incline Village GC – Incline Village

Desert Willow GC – Henderson


Spotswood Executive at Golden Horseshoe GC (9 holes) – Williamsburg

Leave a Reply