Artificial Architecture

11 images that prove AI can design basically any golf course you want

There are plenty of reasons we should be concerned about the developing power of artificial intelligence. For instance, is this story being written by an actual person or a computer? You can’t say for sure, can you? Are you a real person? See, things are already getting weird.

If we can agree we need to tread cautiously with AI, we can also agree it can be a great way to kill an afternoon, especially if you’re the type of person who doodles imaginary golf courses while supposedly paying attention in meetings.

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The other day Golf Digest senior producer Ben Walton, who claims to be a real person but you never know, approached a broader group after venturing down a virtual rabbit hole asking AI to create golf course images using specific prompts. Ben was using an AI platform called Midjourney and started with some fairly conventional concepts. For instance, he said, “Design a links golf course featuring the design styles of Old Tom Morris and the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland,” and came up with this.


Incredible, right? Ben—or more to the point, Ben's laptop—was just getting started. Because then he followed with a bunch of prompts asking for imaginary courses by other architects. When he asked for Donald Ross, AI gave him some customary Ross crowned greens framed by collection areas.


Pete Dye's course had its forced carries and railroad ties.


And Alister MacKenzie's had the unmistakable feel of a modest little golf course in eastern Georgia.


Ben went on for a while with other designers—Doak, Coore-Crenshaw, Gil Hanse, etc.— and the results were all so uncannily vivid, we decided to get weird.

Our Jamie Kennedy asked AI to design the best golf practice area in the world, located in the hills of North Carolina, which was strangely specific, but the robots still delivered.


A few years ago, Golf Digest ran a gag story and video about a proposed 36-hole golf course in New York’s Central Park. It was only 2017, but by comparison the artistic renderings seem fairly crude.

Golf Digest Central Park 36 Hole Course 3.jpg

Six years later, we asked AI for an update.


From there, the wheels were off. We asked for a golf course at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.


Then one in the shadow of the ancient Pyramids (to be fair, a few of these exist in real life).


And the base of Mount Everest, which was sort of ridiculous.


But maybe not as ridiculous as a golf course on the moon.


We could have gone on like this for days, but some of us have other work to do—at least those of us who are not machines.