• News and Blogs from the team at European Golf Design

Are all new bunkers starting to look the ‘same’?

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.

Nine to Watch This Summer

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

European Institute of Golf Course Architects

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).

Ross McMurray of European Golf Design has become the 10th President of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA)

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

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club officially recognized as a world-class leisure facility.

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.

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A Picture Paints…

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.

Figure 1: The future 12th hole at Casa Serena, Czech Republic on a cold, wet day in November 2004. My first day of work for EGD.

Figure 1: The future 12th hole at Casa Serena, Czech Republic on a cold, wet day in November 2004. My first day of work for EGD.

Figure 2: The same view in September 2008.

Figure 2: The same view in September 2008.

Figure 3: From atop a high bluff looking out over the Bahraini desert in July 2006.

Figure 3: From atop a high bluff looking out over the Bahraini desert in July 2006.

Figure 4: Less than 3 years later and the same scene has become the 3rd (right) and 8th (left) holes of the Royal Golf Club, part of the huge Riffa Views development. Photo taken in 2009.

Figure 4: Less than 3 years later and the same scene has become the 3rd (right) and 8th (left) holes of the Royal Golf Club, part of the huge Riffa Views development. Photo taken in 2009.

Figure 5: Back in 2013 the view from Tee 15 of Plage des Nations looked like this, with the most enormous pile of foundation spoil sitting on top of the fairway.

Figure 5: Back in 2013 the view from Tee 15 of Plage des Nations looked like this, with the most enormous pile of foundation spoil sitting on top of the fairway.

Figure 6: In February 2016 it looks like this. The large hill to the right is formed in 9 metres of cut! The course is still growing in.

Figure 6: In February 2016 it looks like this. The large hill to the right is formed in 9 metres of cut! The course is still growing in.

Figure 7: November 2012 and the view down the future 16th hole at JCB Woodseat Hall.

Figure 7: November 2012 and the view down the future 16th hole at JCB Woodseat Hall.

Figure 8: October 2015. More of a 'during' than an 'after' but the basic shape of the hole is formed.

Figure 8: October 2015. More of a ‘during’ than an ‘after’ but the basic shape of the hole is formed.

Kyle Taggart – Life as a Construction Supervisor

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.

Kyle Taggart

Originally from Powell River, BC, Canada & currently living in ‘The Sandpit’

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Kyle_Taggart

Kyle_Taggart

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Irie Fields becomes first in the World to attain GEO Certified

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.

 

St Kitts sits Irie Fields

Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia

Last week’s site trip to Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in Saudi Arabia was a momentous one, with grassing approvals granted for Holes 1 & 9, the last holes to be concluded on the front nine. Much work is still to be done on these holes, but this milestone is definitely a great achievement.
Landscape planting works shall commence early in the new year and this will really assist in transforming and defining the holes.

In terms of the course’s building facilities, construction works on the impressive Clubhouse are progressing apace, ground has now been broken on the Maintenance Facility, with the Academy building commencing next month.

An exciting 2016 lies in store.

 

Hole 9 from the 1st fairway at Royals Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia
Hole 9 from the 1st fairway.

Aerial view of Hole 1 and 9 Royals Greens Golf and Country Club, Saudi Arabia
Aerial view of Hole 1 and 9.

 

Click to watch video flyover of front 9

Posted by Royal Greens Golf Club Maintenance on Monday, 21 December 2015

Grassing commenced at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia

So, after a project commencement date sometime in late 2007, I am pleased & excited to say that on almost the 8th anniversary of our King Abdullah Economic City project in Saudi Arabia, I finally witnessed the first grass sprigs getting planted at the Royal Greens Golf Club.

Back in 2009, following the shaping works of almost 16 holes, the recession hit, and works ground to halt. Six years on, and late last year, works re-commenced and the dozer machines were once again put to task.

The project has had a few hiccups along the way since then, most notably importation and custom issues, dewatering of the four sea water lakes and the installation of the storm drainage systems from the neighbouring residential areas; but we are now finally full steam ahead! Four holes are already fully grassed, and fingers crossed, the whole front nine should be showing a beautiful tinge of green come the end of the year. In the accompanying aerial image, holes 2 & 3, which play around lake, had just been grassed, while the par 5 4th & par 4 5th (top right of the image) were grassed just over a month back. During this week’s site visit, further grassing approval should be given for holes 6 thru 8 (The 8th is the short par 3 in the bottom right)

Its been a long and tough road to get to the stage, but the finishing post, which should be sometime mid next year, is not too far off now. For regular project updates, follow us on twitter @eurogolfdesign, @RoyalGreensGC

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia

Aerial view of front nine holes at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia during grassing.

Schloss Wilkendorf Revisited

Having turned fifty last year (I know, it’s almost impossible to believe!) I have found that the last 12 months has been a fairly hectic time with numerous parties and reunions of old friends celebrating the same milestone. Another particularly memorable reunion was a recent celebration with university friends marking 30 years since we started as students and it was amazing how we all seemed to gel together again, as if we had only been apart for a few weeks rather than for over twenty five years. Of course the one thing that we all agreed on was the fact that none of us had changed a bit!

I had similar thoughts a few days later when I was invited to visit a golf course I had not seen for the best part of twenty years.

One of the great joys of being a golf course architect is to be able to return to a course which you have designed years after it was first opened. Our official involvement with most projects ends on the day the golf course opens for play, although often you are invited back if there is a special event or you need to check on the golf course set up.

At EGD we normally maintain a close relationship with our clients and often return to our courses over the years, sometimes even with our clubs! However, inevitably clients and personnel change, and like an old friend you sometimes begin to lose touch. Add to that the remoteness of some projects and it is easy for both sides to find themselves ‘moving on’.

So it was with a mixture of surprise and delight that I received an invitation to join in the 20th birthday celebrations of Schloss Wilkendorf Golf Club in Germany, near Strausburg, about an hour’s drive east of Berlin.

Schloss Wilkendorf was a large project we designed in the early 90’s with 36 holes and extensive practice facilities, including a three hole academy course. The championship course was designed in association with Sandy Lyle.

I well remember my first visit to Schloss Wilkendorf in 1992, only three years after Germany’s reunification, and driving seemingly miles along cobbled streets to get to the site. I thought it quite unlikely that golf would be considered as a serious sport in this part of the world. Yet how wrong could I be? Before construction even started a short course was mown out in a meadow alongside our course and it was soon filled with children going around with borrowed clubs, quickly reaching a very good standard.

Returning to Schloss Wilkendorf I was delighted to see that, like my friends from college, the golf courses had hardly changed, and one other thing had not changed at all. I was amazed to find that the head greenkeeper was still Gordon Smith, the man who had grown in the golf course for the contractors, Southern Golf, all those years before. Gordon has matured and developed the course without losing any of its character and I thoroughly enjoyed our day as we toured every hole.

Schloss Wilkendorf is a lovely, secluded place, with both golf courses totally enclosed by woodland. The region is well worth a visit and it now boasts some fine golf courses. Not far away is Sporting Club Berlin at Scharmützelsee which boasts two EGD courses created by our former colleague Stan Eby, including the Faldo Course, which he designed in association with Nick Faldo, and the Eby Course, named in Stan’s honour.
Inevitably, at the end of all the reunions and 50th birthday celebrations we all make promises to meet up again soon and to not leave it so long the next time. Similarly I resolve to visit Schloss Wilkendorf again before I’m invited to their next 20 year anniversary. Certainly I want to make that visit before I am doing the rounds of 70th birthday celebrations!

17th hole at Schloss Wilkendorf

17th hole at Schloss Wilkendorf

Head Greenkeeper Gordon Smith

Head Greenkeeper Gordon Smith

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