Our Approach

Design Philosophy

Kari bases her design philosophy on the following guiding principles:

  • Design compelling golf challenges
  • Design a course that is fun and playable for all golfers
  • Provide opportunities for memorable golf experiences
  • Produce eco-sensitive designs that are environmentally and economically sustainable

Having played competitively as well as for fun, Kari understands the challenges and charms that draw golfers of all abilities, and she believes the course design should be accessible and equally playable for all golfers. As the “baby boomers” age, women’s golf grows, and clubs develop junior programs, there will be an increased need for thoughtful design of forward tees. At the same time, there will continue to be a need for design of compelling golf challenges from the tips. Kari’s thorough understanding of competitive play has prepared her to create exciting strategic challenges for the low handicapper.

Although many elements often combine to create great golf challenges, the kingpin of strategic charm is the hazard. It is also often the seemingly insurmountable hazard conquered that creates a lasting golf memory. Kari has done extended study on what makes places and events memorable and will employ design techniques that optimize memorability.

What is Sustainability? 

In a nutshell, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility (which has environmental, economic, and societal dimensions), and encompasses the concept of stewardship. For golf, water and land preservation are crucial for a sustainable environmental future; and the next generation of golfers is crucial for a sustainable social and economic future. Kari has expertise in environmental and community ecology and a true commitment to building a sustainable future for golf. She will start with a good routing and a subtle hand on the land.

Sustainable Design

Sustainability is the foundation of Kari’s approach to golf course design.  We want your investment and our work to endure over the long-term and endurance is the essence of sustainability.

We understand that in order for a golf course to be sustainable, the design has to fulfill environmental, economic, and social goals.   We understand that golf is a game we play to have fun, and we usually play it with friends while enjoying the beauty of our natural environment.  Secondly, golf is a business to make money.  Finally, at the very foundation of the game and business is the natural environment, because without it, the game and the business would not exist.  The following diagram depicts the inter-relationships of KHP&D’s golf sustainability model.

Economically Sustainable  |  Environmentally Sustainable  |  Culturally Sustainable


  1. In Golf.  Sustainability is the capacity to endure through renewal, maintenance, and sustenance, or nourishment.  For humans in social systems (the game of golf) and/or environmental ecosystems (the golf course), sustainability is the long-term commitment to responsibly maintain and enhance environmental, economic, and social dimensions for the next generation.  Sustainability encompasses the concept of stewardship, (the responsible design, construction, overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving, ie., the golf course and the game of golf.)
  2. In Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance: The greens committee is developing sustainability standards for the golf course.



  1. pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse far into the future: a sustainable golf course.

TIME = Money

Time and energy spent on maintenance that goes against natural processes is a waste of money, so we make efforts to work with the natural ecosystems of your property, producing designs that are eco-sensitive.  We will strive to maximize water and land conservation, use native plants to create bio-filters and habitat, and strive to ensure that ecosystems continue to function in the integrated and harmonious way they were meant to interact.

The game of golf has persisted through the centuries because it has been culturally relevant and attractive to the populations that seek it out.  As a result, popularity of the sport has driven economic and social sustainability that has endured for centuries.

However, the 21st Century ushered in change.  Technological advances in computing and communication have pushed human pace to its limits, and turned time into a precious commodity.  As families have become more and more pressured for time, sustainability of the game as we know it has come into question.  Course owners, developers, and municipalities have become more mindful of the cultural and economic factors that affect continuity of the sport and they are looking for new approaches to sustain the game.

In response to a changing world, KHP&D has developed a toolbox of more responsive, responsible, creative and resourceful concepts that we can use to develop a SUSTAINABLE design for your golf course renovation or new construction.  We will work with you to develop an enduring design that fulfills the vision for your property and meets your business goals.

Sustainable Golf Course Design

  • Sustainable Golf Guidelines

    Several golf organizations have developed guidelines for sustainable golf course design, development, and management.  A few of these include the Golf Environment Organization (GEO) out of Europe, the Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG - a branch of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America), and the USGA and Audubon International's Sanctuary Program.  Do you subscribe to the principles of one of these programs and if so, what do you like about them?

  • What courses are promoting eco-tourism in their golf vacation packages?

    In a recent study regarding golf tourism, the environmental experience was rated high in the list of reasons why people go on golf vacations.  Is your course promoting eco-tourism as part of your golf package?  What are you doing?

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Women in Golf

Kari is an avid advocate for improving the game of golf for women. Using her skills as a golf course architect, Kari is actively advocating for changes in course design to make courses more playable and enjoyable for women and players of all abilities.

Kari has developed modern forward tee guidelines based on the precedent guidelines developed by respected pioneer Alice Dye some thirty years ago. Some of the changes include reducing the offset of the tee, more clearly defining which side of a dogleg to locate the forward tee, and more effectively using elevation to make the fairway more visible for women golfers. Most importantly, Kari emphasizes that in addition to a first tee choice at approximately 5,000 yards, a second tee choice at approximately 5, 700 yards is imperative to provide the distance challenge needed for game development. Kari believes this will not only help women to improve their skills, but a second tee will also be beneficial for junior golfers working to improve their game and seniors who would find a shorter course more enjoyable. Check out the modernized women’s tee guidelines below!

Kari is also founder of the Minnesota Women’s Golf Project, a collaborative effort that brings together women’s golf leaders to identify the sources of attrition amongst women golfers, and increase the presence of women role models in the game and industry for the next generation.

Women in Golf Blog

  • What can be done to reduce the attrition rate amongst women golfers?

    Leaders in the Minnesota women's golf community have gathered in recent months to discuss the reasons why participation in the sport of golf has not grown for women.  Participation rates have hovered around 23% for decades, despite the clearly identified market potential.   In August 2012, Kari Haug made a presentation to Minnesota women's golf leaders, proposing that additional programs to grow the game may not be the answer, but rather a solution might be found by initiating programs...

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Kari Haug | Sustainable Golf Course Design