The European Golf Design course at The JCB Club makes the Golf Monthly 10 Most Exclusive Golf Clubs In The UK.
The JCB club is the newest venue on this list, having opened for play in 2018.
The club is the brainchild of Lord Anthony Bamford (son of Joseph Cyril Bamford) who is the chairman at the construction company started by his father, where the club gets its name.
The club is located in Rocester, Staffordshire which is the same small town where JCB is headquartered.
It features an island green par-3 and has some stunning countryside views.
Read more at www.golf-monthly.co.uk
Photos by Jeremy Slessor of European Golf Design
Everyone is entitled to an opinion and most of us are quite happy to share the benefit of our own infinite wisdom with anyone that will listen (a case in point…this blog!). So it’s hardly surprising that one of the more regular features in the media is lists of the ‘Top 10 this’ and the ‘Top 100 that’. Many of these lists are so subjective and arbitrary as to be meaningless. However, some of the better ones are put together by Chris Bertram and his colleagues at Golf World UK. Among the requirements for inclusion in their list is the obligation that the members of the panel actually have to have visited the course in question, which is a surprisingly rare necessity in many of the other lists.
With that in mind, we were especially pleased to see how some of our courses had fared in two recent lists published by Golf World. Their list of the Top 100 Golf Resorts in the UK and Ireland features no less than ten courses designed, co-designed or renovated by us, including seven in the top 50. And in the Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe rankings, we have been involved as designer or co-designer at five courses, with another two featuring where we have been involved in renovations.
We don’t do what we do to get included in lists, but can’t help admitting that it is reassuring when our work is recognised by others as having some quality.
It’s not unusual for a few of the projects we are involved with to be hosting tournaments on the professional tours, but this year is pretty unique with nine venues with which we are working staging events on the European Tour, European Senior Tour and LPGA Tour. From Morgado G&CC in Portugal, which is hosting its first ever event, to tour regulars such as Le Golf National, The West Course at Wentworth and Evian Resort, we’re delighted to be involved in each one and will be following the events with interest.
The full list is as follows:
Open de Portugal at Morgado G&CC, Portugal – May 11-14
BMW PGA Championship at The West Course, Wentworth Club, UK – May 25-28
European Tour Properties Senior Classic at Linna Golf, Finland – June 21-23
HNA Open de France at Le Golf National, France – June 29 – July 2
Porsche European Open at Nord Course, Green Eagle Golf, Germany – July 27-30
Omega European Masters at GC Crans-sur-Sierre, Switzerland – September 7-10
Evian Championship at Evian Resort, France – September 14-17
KLM Open at The Dutch, Holland – September 14-17
English Senior Masters at Forest of Arden, UK – October 20-22
Above: The West Course, Wentworth Club, UK
Above: The Dutch, The Montgomerie, Holland
Above: Evian, France
On his first full day in the role, everyone at EGD offers their congratulations to Ross McMurray on his election to the Presidency of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA). This is a great honour for Ross and recognises the contribution he has made to his colleagues at the EIGCA and to the wider industry over the last thirty years or so.
We know Ross will perform his new role with his usual quiet diligence, professionalism and competence, and wish him much success over the course of his two-year term. The rumour that he wishes to build a wall around Europe and get Mexico to pay for it is, as far as we can tell, unfounded.
Above: Ross McMurray (right) is congratulated by outgoing President Tom Mackenzie (centre). Christoph Städler (left) takes over from Ross as Vice-President.
Read more https://eigca.org
My name is Kyle Taggart and I joined the EGD team in July ’14 as construction supervisor at the Dubai Hills Estate golf and residential project in the United Arab Emirates. For the previous 20+ years I have worked in the golf and turf industry in varying capacities, across five different continents and the most extreme climatic opposites conceivable. My passion for the game and hands on experience, teamed with a turfgrass management diploma has led me down this unique career path focused on delivering high quality golf experiences.
Working in the Middle East region isn’t for the faint of heart. Being positioned along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, the weather conditions go from warm to hot to borderline inhumane. I have personally experienced temperatures in the high 50’s, then magnified by stifling humidity. With more than 200 nationalities co-existing in Dubai there is constant language, religious and cultural differences, but in my opinion, this just adds to the allure of the UAE. Security, tolerance, advanced infrastructure and (of course) tax-free income are the main factors attracting the majority of the approximately 7.8 million expats, which equate to more than 85% of the country’s total population.
This is my second ‘tour of duty’ in Dubai, the first being employed in a contractors’ role during construction of Jumeirah Golf Estates. That was a turbulent ride as we witnessed the peaks and valleys of the volatile real estate market before, during and after the global financial collapse in 2008-2009. JGE has hosted the year end DP World Tour Championship since ’09 and there is definitely a sense of achievement to witness the Earth Course manicured in all her glory, elevating the design intent to its fullest. Watching some of the games’ best battle it out in the EPGA’s richest event is a fantastic way to wind up the year.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have travelled and lived in such a plethora of countries and cultures. You have to accept repeated temporary living arrangements in this profession but I am incredibly fortunate to have seen so much thus far. My global experiences have brought copious amounts of learning along the journey and I wouldn’t trade that for a 9-5, suit and tie job. While working abroad in the golf construction industry can be a love-hate relationship at times, I do not anticipate losing the passion any time soon.
Originally from Powell River, BC, Canada & currently living in ‘The Sandpit’
Spending time at a golf design company has been a great experience, learning how the course for which the game I love to play is created has opened my eyes to a new dimension of golf. The process of design is far more complicated than the average golfer could ever imagine, but the guys at EGD explained it all; enabling me to have a good go at it whilst not feeling that I was shooting blind. After spending several days shifting around hole shapes on a site map, trying to get my head around what would work and what wouldn’t.
After coming up with an eighteen-hole plan I assumed that the drawing of fairways and greens would be straightforward. In fact it was challenging to get them to work with the space available and to fit with the contours of the site. Learning how to grade the land and attempt to flatten some areas while considering drainage was a painstaking process which involved much trial and error; but the result was very satisfactory when right.
Spending time in a place with such a warm and welcoming atmosphere has been a great experience. I learned a lot about golf course design, as well as not to put a sausage roll anywhere near a dog again. It was a pleasure working there, and getting to know everyone at EGD.
European Golf Design, the golf course design company of the European Tour and IMG, has created some of the most successful professional tournament courses in Europe, including the Twenty Ten Course at the Celtic Manor Resort, venue of the 2010 Ryder Cup. In this feature interview, Jeremy Slessor, Managing Director of EGD, and designer Ross McMurray discuss the factors owners, investors and developers must consider in making their tournament course a success with the public as well as the professionals, and reveal the extraordinary challenges of a designing a golf course for one of the world’s biggest sporting events, the Ryder Cup.
How did you become involved with the design of the golf course for the 2010 Ryder Cup at the Celtic Manor Resort?
Ross: “We were approached by the owner, Sir Terry Matthews, whose vision it was to bring the Ryder Cup bid to Wales. Having just opened a third course at Celtic Manor, the original intention was to design a fourth course, specifically for the event. However, the Usk Valley is a challenging landscape with steep slopes, and it would have been impossible to create a new course there that could have been walked twice in a day, which is required in the Ryder Cup.”
So, what was the solution?
Ross: “We began looking at sites close to the venue, but kept hitting the same hurdles.
We persevered, looking at various concepts, before agreeing a scheme to build nine new holes and add them to nine on what was then the Wentwood Hills Course. It took ten years of diligent design and construction, but ultimately it was this concept which came to pass at the 2010 Ryder Cup.”
Besides the golf course itself, what factors must be considered when designing a Ryder Cup venue?
Jeremy: “The infrastructure required is phenomenal. It’s much more than we deal with when masterplanning courses for European Tour events. The primary concern is the volume of spectators. There can be upwards of 40-45,000 people who, because of the nature of the Ryder Cup, want to see the start and stay to the end of play. So you have to consider this and how you get them onto and off the site, so transportation is fundamental.”
What else do you have to take into account?
Jeremy: “The media must be looked after, as they take the Ryder Cup to the world and so the media centre is a small community in its own right. A significant amount of space is required for a tented village, which is occupied by sponsors and retailers. Then there’s catering to consider – it must be possible to deliver food to the site, cook it and then clean up afterwards. So the whole event is a significant logistical challenge and the golf course design has to fit into the overall masterplan for the site.”
Does this actually impact on the course design?
Ross: “Definitely. In fact, the first tee on the Twenty Ten Course had originally been designed close to the clubhouse, but was moved more than 200 metres in order to facilitate the tented village and the media centre. I was actually able to come up with a potential design for the new nine-holes relatively quickly. However, there were so many considerations that impacted on the course layout, it ultimately took nearly six years to finalise the routing.”
Forever remembered as the wettest Ryder Cup ever, had you factored in the weather to your plans?
Ross: “It had been a point of discussion from the outset. Any outdoor event in Wales at the end of September has to expect some rain. Having three courses already, the resort had an understanding for what was needed to improve the drainage, but we had more to consider than just rainwater. In the event of heavy rain, the course was also threatened by rising floodwater from the River Usk and the local high-ground water tables.”
So what did you do?
Ross: “We raised the ground level around the river with a bund to prevent flooding and put perforated drainpipes through every fairway using a combination of drains and catch basins to capture surface water. We worked closely with the project engineers and the contractors to develop an overall drainage scheme which we felt would handle any eventuality. We wanted to ensure we’d done everything we could in order to protect the course from wet conditions. And thank goodness we did, as it was only because of those precautions that the Ryder Cup was completed.”
What was Sir Terry Matthews like to work with?
Jeremy: “He is very driven and demanding, but he’s very reasonable, too. He drove the project from beginning to end with the single goal of putting on the most successful Ryder Cup of all time and he would not take ‘no’ for an answer. The word just isn’t in his vocabulary. “On a number of occasions we were faced with a situation where all options seemed exhausted, but he couldn’t accept that. Invariably, we found a solution and learned a valuable lesson from that – if you look hard enough, you almost always find a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem.”
Ross: “What I found admirable, was how he had put a great management team together who worked exceptionally with all the consultants involved in the process. It was a fantastic team to work for and over the years on the project, we got to know each other very well, learning how each other worked – it definitely made a positive impact on the overall result because we all pulled together, cohesively to ensure the Ryder Cup would be as good as it could be.”
You mention that Sir Terry wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, but are there occasions when a developer must listen to his team and moderate their hopes?
Ross: “Yes, absolutely. There are times when you must stand up and be counted, particularly when it comes to environmental issues. It is important to be responsible and developers are generally receptive to a professional opinion, provided there is sound reasoning behind it.”
What do you say to developers when they ask you to design a tournament course?
Jeremy: “The first question we ask is why they want a tournament course. There are occasions where it just isn’t suitable to build a facility of that stature. One of the mistakes some developers have made in the past, particularly in emerging markets, is building tournament courses without thinking who their paying customers are going to be day-to-day. Supply and demand in a locality are key factors and if the local market is ignored, commercial success can take longer than it should.”
How might a developer in a new golfing territory increase domestic demand for golf?
Jeremy: “We design different types of golf facilities including nine-hole par-3 courses, golf academies, practice areas as well as club courses, European Tour courses and Ryder Cup courses. In some circumstances, supplementing a championship golf course with an academy will provide the necessary nucleus to stimulate domestic participation.”
Does creating a tournament golf course reduce its playability for the golfing public?
Ross: “With creative design, you can ensure that all golfers can enjoy even the most demanding of tournament courses. We design the course so that the landing areas for public golfers are substantially wider than for professionals. We have to be careful that bunkers aren’t so difficult that golfers of all abilities can’t escape from them, while providing enough of a challenge to tour professionals. It’s a fine line, but it is possible.”
Is the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort an example of that?
Ross: “I believe so. It is certainly a demanding course, but it has become hugely popular with golf tourists and the feedback we have had has all been positive. Golfers appreciate that they’re playing a Ryder Cup course and they expect there to be a level of difficulty they’re not used to.”
How will your experience at Celtic Manor Resort influence your work at Le Golf National, Paris, ahead of the 2018 Ryder Cup?
Jeremy: “Le Golf National is a very different project compared with Celtic Manor Resort, but the experience that we gained in Wales will be crucial. Although it has hosted the Alstom Open de France, this is a much bigger event.”
What changes are you making to the golf course itself?
Ross: “Although there are some strategic changes to make, we will avoid significant alterations because there are so many aspects of the course which golfers really enjoy. Some bunkers will be moved, or upgraded, to offer more of a challenge to long-hitters – and the Ryder Cup demands a greater variety of flag positions than the existing greens offer, so we will rectify that. We will also move some of the tees to make the holes a little more interesting. Most of the major alterations we are planning to the golf course are to provide improved infrastructure, viewing and spectator circulation for the event. In particular we will be looking to create extensive areas for hospitality, using the experience we gained from Celtic Manor.”
Having spent more than ten years working towards it, what are your feelings looking back at the 2010 Ryder Cup?
Ross: “I am quite sentimental about it now. I thought I’d be glad for it to be over, but I do miss it and how it would occupy my day-to-day thoughts. It is the absolute highlight of my career; it isn’t everyone who gets an opportunity to design a course for the Ryder Cup. I think the memory of Graeme McDowell sinking his putt on the 16th will be with me forever.”
Graeme McDowell has won the European Tour Shot of the Year award for his dramatic putt on the 16th green during his Ryder Cup singles match on the Twenty-Ten Course at The Celtic Manor Resort.
McDowell collected the award from 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie at the prestigious European Tour Player Awards Dinner, held last night at the Sofitel Heathrow. The ceremony was attended by the whole Ryder Cup team who also presented Monty with a present of their own as a thank you for his outstanding leadership. In all six of the top seven players in the world were present at the awards as well as all four current Major title holders.
European Golf Design’s Ross McMurray, who was responsible for creating the Twenty-Ten Course and was also a guest at the dinner, gave his support to McDowell’s award; “On a personal level Graeme’s putt on the 16th green during the Ryder Cup was easily the highlight of the year. The atmosphere after his approach shot found the green was unbelievable and the noise from the thousands of watching spectators when he holed that putt was amazing. It was a truly unforgettable experience for all of us at EGD who were present that day.”
Graeme McDowell celebrates on the 16th green at the Ryder Cup
The Celtic Manor Resort has been named as Sport Venue of the Year at last nights prestigious Sport Industry Awards 2011 in London. The lavish ceremony was attended by many of sports top industry executives and a host of sporting celebrities including Andrew Strauss, AP McCoy, Rory McIlroy, Jack Wilshere, Joe Calzaghe, Petr Cech, Michael Vaughan and Dame Kelly Holmes.
Celtic Manor Resort was the venue for last years dramatic Ryder Cup, the biennial competition between the best golfers in Europe and the United States. The matches were played over the challenging Twenty Ten Course at the Resort, which was especially created for the event by golf course designers, European Golf Design. Ross McMurray, lead designer for EGD on the project commented;
“I am delighted that Celtic Manor Resort has been recognized for staging what was one of the most exciting and dramatic sporting events of 2010. Despite the appalling weather the venue shone through and delivered what was undoubtedly one of the most successful Ryder Cup’s ever held. My congratulations go to everyone who was involved. European Golf Design is proud to have played a part in its success.”
The Sport Venue of the Year Award, sponsored by the evenings hosts Battersea Evolution, was received on behalf of The Celtic Manor Resort by Marketing & Commercial Director Gareth Rees Jones and PR Manager Paul Williams. The trophy was presented by sporting great James Cracknell and Sky Sports presenter Charlotte Jackson.