Following on from the last blog, we were delighted to be included in Golf Inc Magazine’s list of the Top 10 Golf Architects in the World for 2017, published in their January/February issue out this month. We don’t do what we do to simply get recognition by others, but it’s incredibly gratifying when it does happen! To be associated with so many talented colleagues in the industry is more than humbling. The support of both of our parent companies, The European Tour and IMG, has been unwavering over the years, but without the faith that our clients place in us to carry out their dreams and aspirations, and to deliver great courses, none of this would be possible so, to each of you, thank you for the confidence and trust you have given us. It’s been a true pleasure to work with so many of you.
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.
A couple weeks back, I was fortunate to get the opportunity to play Royal Porthcawl ahead of this month’s upcoming British Seniors Open. Along with my playing partners, we were also fortunate to be greeted with blazing sunshine and NO breeze! (Note – that framed sea view from the locker room is something special…..and when you see it, you know are in for something special)
The course itself is a wonderful test and was already in great shape. The warm early summer weather had already firmed up and browned off the fairways, giving it that desired ‘links’ look! There is no weak hole out there and the par 3s were all excellent, especially the short 7th – how wonderful it is to have such a short hole (120yards if that), if only it was done more often these days!
At EGD we have numerous opportunities to work closely with the European Tour, and this year, Matt has been working on the tournament plan for this year’s British Seniors Open. Having seen the plan been worked on in the office, it was very interesting to see how this would work both on the course, and from a tournament staging point of view – the most notable course change, for staging reasons, is the 18th hole playing as the 1st and the 17th as the tournament’s home hole.
Finally, our game was played on quiet Sunday afternoon in late June, the sun was shining bright and the only sounds we could hear emanated from the nearby beach. The smell was that wonderful fresh sea air smell, the views were spectacular, and we pretty much had this fantastic links all to ourselves…..I vividly recall thinking, Life is good! In a couple weeks’ time, I am sure things won’t be all that tranquil for those in contention on tournament Sunday, but the Seniors Open sure does have a wonderful host!
Has the modern in vogue bunker style of minimalist / natural / feathered / ragged bunker edges (call it what you like) become over used? These days, if you view any website or publication dedicated to golf course architecture almost every article seems to have images of this bunker style…..are bunkers becoming too similar, and can you tell the difference from one course to the next?
Don’t get me wrong, I personally love this style, but when does too much of a ‘same’ thing become bad? Will this style become ‘stale’, or is it here to stay? History proves that architecture, no matter the form, evolves, so what is next? If only we knew this answer….
Personally, I think sandy sites most definitely lend themselves more to this style, but surely not every site is blessed with these soil conditions? At EGD, we are fortunate to have numerous designers and, while the consistency of design quality is always the same, each of us has a slightly different design approach and, most importantly, we pride ourselves on designing courses appropriate for each site, each brief and each client…..none of which are the same! So, does the ‘same’ bunker style satisfy and suit each project? We don’t think so!
Below: Examples of some modern ‘natural’ bunkering styles.
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
It’s been a big week for EGD’s involvement with the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA). In addition to Ross becoming President, we would also like to recognise Dave Sampson, Rob Hiseman and Gary Johnston on their promotion to Senior Members of the EIGCA and to Alex Hay on becoming an Associate Member.
These promotions are the result of years of great work, skill and dedication. We are very proud of each of them and offer our congratulations on this achievement.
Above: Robin Hiseman (right) is congratulated by outgoing President Tom Mackenzie (left).
Above: Dave Sampson (right) is congratulated by outgoing President Tom Mackenzie (left).
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
Mill Creek Country Club, St Petersburg – 11th Green
Mill Creek Country Club, St Petersburg – 11th, 12th Hole, 10th Tee
Mill Creek Country Club, St Petersburg – 3rd Hole
Mill Creek Country Club, St Petersburg – 2nd Hole
Mill Creek Country Club, St Petersburg – 2nd Green
We are pleased to share with you the news that Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Saudi Arabia has won two awards for the “Best Leisure Development” for both the Middle East Region and for Saudi Arabia. We will now be representing the Region at the Global Property Awards which will be held in London towards the end of this year. This is a significant accomplishment as the International Property Awards are like the Oscars of real estate awards with over 2,000 entries from 103 countries. Royal Greens was the winner in the “Leisure Development” category which is a very broad segment that encompasses theme parks, hotels, resorts, sports clubs, golf courses, and other facilities, so it was particularly competitive category. Royal Greens will also be prominently featured in Travel and Leisure magazine which enjoys significant worldwide distribution.
By Robin Hiseman
Nothing quite explains the transformative process of golf course design as well as a before and after photograph. It was looking at such images in the World Atlas of Golf as a 10 year-old that first sparked my interest in golf architecture.
At the ‘before’ stage we concoct the ‘after’ image in our minds eye and then set about the task of making this mental image a physical reality.
Here are a selection of my favourites from the projects I’ve worked on for EGD. It would take more than a thousand words to do justice to the processes, personalities and pitfalls encountered to bring each to fruition, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.
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’
On the lush slopes of Mt Liamuga on north of the island of St Kitts sits Irie Fields, one of EGD’s newest Golf Courses. On first look it may not seem too dissimilar to many of our other projects but this pioneering destination is more than a little different. From the start the development team had the intention to create a world class golf resort but the overriding theme has always been to create a golf course that would be truly sustainable that, importantly, would provide a benefit to the local community. This thinking was not just limited to the design and construction of the golf course but also to the ongoing management and consequently Irie Fields is now one of the first completely organically managed warm season golf courses anywhere. The result of all this hard work is that Irie Fields has just become the first in the World to attain GEO Certified – Development Status helping to set new standards for golf course development.
Construction work on the golf course was completed in 2015 and the course is set to open in mid-2016.