Course architecture snippets from around the world #2
In February, we published
a comprehensive report from more than a dozen distinguished
architects around the world about projects they were currently
involved in. Specifically, they told us about a whole host of new
ventures and restoration/renovation schemes that were due for
completion this year.
We arranged these items geographically last time around, beginning with Great Britain & Ireland and ending with Africa. The only regions left out of our global roundup were Continental Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean & North Atlantic Islands and we’ve managed to address those omissions by including two of them in this edition.
Frank Pont tells us he’s building a 9-hole reversible course at Ullerberg, in an old sand pit in the middle of the largest heathland area in the country. He’s also finishing off construction of a 9-hole par three course at Oosterhoutse (using land freed up last year by the acquisition of five new holes) which will complement the existing 18-hole course.
Frank is rebuilding three holes at Amsterdam Old Course – a Colt, Alison and Morrison layout – which celebrated eighty years of operation in 2015. Situated less than one kilometre to the north of the Amsterdam ArenA, where the city encroaches on every side, it’s astonishing that this little 9-hole track still remains in existence.
Christoph Städler informs us the first stage of his 45-hole project in Donaueschingen, east of Freiburg, is due to open next month. It’s partly new build, partly renovation and redesign. The second phase will open in late summer with full completion scheduled for mid-2018.
In June of this year, an additional nine holes of Christoph’s are due to open at Münster-Tinnen, north of Dortmund, extending the course to a 27-hole facility. His renovation and partial redesign of the 18-hole layout at Hamburg-Ahrensburg is set to come to an end in September.
Frank Pont is building another 9-hole reversible course and a 9-hole small course near Chiemsee in Bavaria, close to the Austrian border, with spectacular views over the Alps. To the north of the country, the same architect is half way through a bunker renovation using Bunkermat at Köln and the remaining nine holes will be done this Autumn.
Tim Lobb's third course in Turkey, near the popular resort town of Bodrum, is nearing completion. Grassing at Country Life Golf Club will be finished by early summer and the course is scheduled to open in October. It’s being developed by Fikret Öztürk, the owner of Carya Golf Club in Belek, which Tim designed under the banner of Thomson Perrett & Lobb.
"The site is about two kilometres from the sea, and up in the mountains above Bodrum town," says Tim Lobb. "It's a big site - about 300 hectares - and runs through a working olive grove, which we have retained. The site has great topography, but it is extremely rocky, so it has been a challenging build. The bunkers, for example, have been placed and designed hole by hole during construction, depending on ground conditions - and there aren't many of them, less than thirty on the whole course.
We have really built the
course in the field, with lots of hand sketching and field notes,
rather than predetermining the design in the office. That's a new
process for me, and I've been fortunate to work with an excellent
contractor, Naki Evandir of GolfTek - in fact it is the fourth course
I have built with him over the past eighteen years."
United Arab Emirates
Currently under construction, Peter Harradine’s Legends Golf Course will be a fun 9-hole course, with a driving range and practice green, set within the Living Legends real estate development in Dubailand.
The course has five or six tees on each hole, creating a wide range of lengths and angles. It’s a player-friendly layout with reasonable hole lengths, wide fairways and wall to wall grassing that still provides a challenge to more accomplished golfers with strategically placed bunkering and water hazards.
Irrigation and drainage lines have all been installed, floodlighting poles and fixtures have also been located on the course and driving range. Most of the layout should be ready for seeding by the end of June with a tentative opening date for the end of December.
IMG’s new Vinpearl Golf Hai Phong facility is located on the island of Vu Yen, just outside Vietnam’s most important seaport of Hai Phong in the northeast of the country. Officially opened this month, the golf facility consists of two 18-hole layouts (Lakeside and Marshland) which are grassed with paspalum fairways and bermuda greens inside a massive 2,200-acre Ecotourism Area.
The Lakeside course is laid out as a scenic resort-style track where water comes into play on twelve holes and it features generous fairways and large, undulating greens. The Marshland course is routed around carefully preserved open wetlands and it’s been fashioned with grass-faced bunkers and medium to small sized greens which demand accurate approach play.
“Out like a lamb, in
like a lion,” is architect Brian Curley’s assessment of
Schmidt & Curley’s new Mountain Course at FLC Quy Nhon, which
has just debuted. He’s referring to the first four holes versus the
same number of challenging holes at the end of the round on a
terrific track which is routed across a sandy hillside location above
the recently opened Ocean course from Nicklaus Design.
Incredibly, the all-Platinum paspalum Mountain course opened less than six months after shaping first began on a sandy, pine scrub hillside with stunning elevation changes that offer ocean views on sixteen holes. Links course styling with swales and hollows around many of the greens helps to promote a bump and run ground game here.
Fairways are generously
proportioned to take account of the dramatic topography. The absence
of large trees and water plus a limited number of bunkers might give
the impression that this layout is less challenging than the Ocean
course but there’s lots of movement in the greens with some pins
not visible from either the fairway or the tee.
Situated to the west of El Alamein on the Mediterranean coast, Peter Harradine’s resort course at Marassi has been built around a series of man-made lagoons and streams connected directly to the sea. Part of an integrated residential development, the fairways are wide and accommodating though water comes into play on more than half the holes. The facility is due to open in the second half of 2017.
Set within a series of rocky hilltops overlooking the capital, the new Harradine course at Uptown Cairo winds its way around and in between rocky outcrops in valley-like corridors with the real estate sitting high above, allowing residents expansive views across the course.
As might be expected with such unique and challenging terrain, the elaboration of detailed plans and specifications, technical descriptions and bills of quantities was very intricate and sophisticated, ensuring the full potential of the site could be realised.
The clubhouse, driving range, chipping area and putting greens have now been completed and the first nine holes of the course should be open by the end of 2017.
After a three-year build, the NEWGIZA course in Egypt, which sits within a 500-hectare master planned development, will open later this year. Designed by Tim Lobb and Ross Perrett for Thomson Perrett & Lobb, the course occupies a stunning location only a short distance from the Giza pyramids.
"It has been a long and difficult build due to the conditions on site, but we are getting there and the results are stunning," said Lobb. "I believe it will be a strong candidate for the title of Egypt's best course."
Twelve holes are now grassed - the first one was started nearly two years ago - and the spectacular clubhouse is well into construction. Final landscaping is under way on much of the site.
"We have now shaped the par three 4th hole, which we believe will be much photographed, as it plays directly at the pyramids," said Lobb. "The twelve holes on the main part of the property are finished; we're now working on the last six – holes 3 to 8 – and they occupy a different plot of land.”
GREAT BRITAIN & IRELAND
The Old course at the Royal Automobile Club has had all its bunkers replaced by Tom Mackenzie over a 15-month period, with the 13th hole completely redesigned. The upgrade work is due to be fully finished in June.
The final phase of Tom’s bunker reconstruction work at Goodwood (Downs) is now finished and the course re-opens for play later this month.
Mentioning sand hazards, Frank Pont is currently working on bunker projects at Blackwell, Camberley Heath, Ringway and Tyneside. He’s also trialling the installation of Blinder bunker liners on a couple of holes at Tandridge, with a view to renovating all greenside bunkers on the course if the trial is successful.
The major renovation of the Buckinghamshire Golf Club to the north-west of London is now finished and the course has reopened. Course manager Andy Ewence, who managed the project, said: "This has been something of an epic, as we have virtually rebuilt large parts of the golf course, while still keeping it open for play. There were four separate contractors involved, with over forty contracting staff on site on a daily basis."
The project has seen the overall area of bunkers on the course – originally designed by the late John Jacobs – shrink from over 14,000 square metres to 6,400 square metres, with obvious consequences for the levels of maintenance required. Architect Tim Lobb said: "It was always obvious that we needed to reduce the area of sand at the Buckinghamshire, but what particularly pleases me is that we have done so while at the same time making the bunkers more thought provoking hazards – and more visible.
Generally, the bunkers are tighter to the greens than they were before, and we have introduced central hazards on the 5th and 18th holes - while clearing trees on the right of 18 to create an alternative line to the green. The par fives were generally very wide and not very interesting before the project; now bunkers threaten the playing lines and create real strategic choices."
Robert Trent Jones Jnr’s firm is delivering an original design at Hogs Head Golf Club in Waterville and this new course is due to be unveiled in August this year. Part of this headland layout is set out on land where the defunct Skellig Bay Golf Club once operated and holes 8 to 16 are now laid out along the coast with some of the inland fairways routed around the Finglas River.
Playing surfaces are sand-capped, planted with three sorts of specially selected fescue grasses that are native to Ireland. The intention is to promote firm and fast playing conditions that will allow golfers to play the ground game if they so choose, especially when the wind gets up.
Work carried out by Tom Mackenzie on the re-aligned 12th hole on the Championship course at Royal Dornoch (the 560-yard par five named “Sutherland”) has now ended, with the tees repositioned away from the 5th fairway and 11th green to produce a more challenging hole.
In 2016, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were appointed to carry out a 3-year renovation of the course at Seminole. Working with bunker specialist Jeff Bradley in phase 1 of the project, they overhauled almost thirty bunkers on holes 12, 13 and 14, restoring the natural sandy waste areas between the holes in manner similar to their recent Pinehurst No 2 upgrade.
Phase 2 in the summer of 2017 will see around a hundred bunkers rebuilt, with the remaining eighty or so sand hazards to be completed the following year.
Several Greg Norman Golf Course Design restoration projects are nearing completion and they include the Black course at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, the 18-hole layout at Savannah Quarters in Georgia, the International course at Championsgate Golf Club in Davenport, Florida and the 45-hole golf facility at The Golf Club at Lansdowne, near Leesburg, Virginia.
Gary Browning tells us the first of his two 18-hole layouts at Serenity Golf Club, southeast of Calgary, will be opening for play this summer. Named Dancing Bull, it’s due to be followed by the Suncatcher course in the summer of 2019.
Before then, the two totally renovated 18-hole layouts at Kananaskis Country Club are set for a grand reopening in the summer of 2018. Both courses were totally devastated by flooding in June of 2013, leading to their closure, and it’ll be an emotional occasion for many when they make their much-anticipated reappearance.
Greg Norman Golf Course Design recently celebrated the opening of its 100th course at Eastern Golf Club in Australia and it currently has forty-two others under contract and another twenty-two actively under development, including six redesign projects.
The firm has just relaunched the Brookwater Golf & Country Club course in Springfield, to the southwest of Brisbane in Queensland. The layout is a Greg Norman design which debuted in 2002 and the course has just reopened after a progressive overhaul that included strategic design changes to greens, fairways and bunkers.
Central to the project’s scope of work was the resurfacing and restoration of the green complexes to return them to their original size, look, and feel. Fairways were also widened and a vigorous vegetation management program removed overgrown foliage around the course and in waterways, opening playing corridors where the original design intent had been compromised.
Drainage and irrigation systems were also significantly updated which now presents an overall improvement in course conditioning that enhances the playability experience for golfers.
We’re also aware of Cathedral Lodge, another Greg Norman design which is being constructed for investment banker and former Essendon AFL club president David Evans on the Goulburn River, near Alexandra in Victoria. From what we hear, there’s every prospect of this new 18-hole layout rivalling the quality of the private track that the late Kerry Packer commissioned Norman and his design team to build in 2001.