Natural signs for a golf course

Ancient stones were transformed into golf course signs near St Andrews.

Golf course tee signs
Painted stone signs were planted all over the course

Robust and sustainable

In early April 2021, Stuart Gillett contacted me.

Stuart is a founder member of Legacy Golf Advisors based in Hampshire. He advises the golf industry globally. Helping the management and sustainability of golf courses.

Stuart explained there were over thirty large stones which had been selected for planting all over Charleton Golf Course, near St Andrews. He asked how to transform the reclaimed stones into signs. The stones’ robustness would make them ideal for durable exterior signs. In addition, they’d be protected from potential damage of constant lawn mowers.

The stones’ natural beauty would complement the surrounding estate. Harmoniously balancing their purpose as signs.

Painted signs on stone
Each stone was hand lettered with signwriting enamel

Information and wayfinding

None of the stones were yet planted around the course.

Each stone would be placed as tee markers. The numerals on the stones would inform golfers of their score for match play. Also, several stones would be used for wayfinding signs at pathways. These signs would direct golfers to the next tees.

Directional signs for golf courses
Wayfinding signs were planted near pathways

Research and proposals

With an understanding of the project and budget, I began to research.

The typeface used would be vital for readability, especially at distance. Additionally, I selected a style which wouldn’t be too affected with the uneven surface of each golf course sign.

I thought how to produce a sharp edge for the numerals and letters on the stones’ rough and porous surfaces. My initial proposal was to use high tack vinyl and heat mould the vinyl into the stones’ nooks and crannies. The high tack vinyl had been used on similar surfaces with excellent results.

Golf course signs
The font was chosen for it’s legibility on uneven surfaces

Choosing methods

A high tack adhesive stencil was another option proposed. The stencil would be an efficient method to layer paint on the surfaces. Quickly allowing a base coat of masonry primer before a top coat was applied.

Both options didn’t match Stuart’s vision for the signs.

‘We are really after a very rough and ready look, although we don’t want it to look too amateurish’, said Stuart.

Painted signs in St Andrews
Most of the tee marker signs had two stones

Finding the right paint

It was agreed that hand lettering would be the preferred look. However, I was still concerned about the stones’ surface.

Back to researching, I looked for a suitable signwriting enamel which would withstand the elements. In addition, the paint had to flow easily and cover solid – preferably in one coat.

Equally, the golf course signs had to be legible. The porous surfaces would affect the sharpness of the painted edges. If the paint were too thin, it would risk seeping into the pores.

I sourced a product from Ronan, an American paint manufacturer. Keen to try the paint on the surfaces, I arranged to visit the golf course to paint a sample of the signs.

Painted signs in St Andrews golf course
The paint was carefully signwritten until it was solid

Sign painting samples

To demonstrate how the numerals would appear, I painted onto a large red sandstone. The paint sucked into the surface rapidly.

Both Stuart and Brian, the head greenkeeper were satisfied with the appearance. Brian planned to arrange the stones over the forthcoming weeks. I scheduled to return as soon as the weather became drier and warmer.

Golf course signs in St Andrews
The rough surface posed a challenge for the brushes

Hand lettering the stones

In early May 2021, I began to paint the stones.

With the aid of a buggy, I traversed around the golf course, painting each sign. The numerals were carefully chalked onto each surface, avoiding any large cracks where possible.

Day one was slow. The paint was absorbing into the stones almost immediately. Lying at ground level was also difficult for manoeuvring the brush.

And then it began to rain…

Signs for golf courses
Sunny and sustainable signs

Completing the golf course signs

With the help of my dad, Brian, we visited ten days later.

The weather had been inconsistent with rain and partial sunshine. Painting onto wet stone was out of the question. We had to be confident of dry weather on the golf course, before scheduling our return.

Over two days, we made faster progress. We used different brushes too, which held more paint in the bristles. The new brushes were a game changer.

Eventually, the stones were transformed into unique signs for the golf course. Simultaneously durable, natural and legible.

Golfers, Stuart and the team at Charleton Golf Course were delighted with the result.

Are you interested in unique and sustainable golf course signs in St Andrews? Contact me to find out more.