EGD Courses Acknowledged by Golfing Press

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.

 

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

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

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’

Kyle_Taggart

Kyle_Taggart

Kyle_Taggart

Kyle_Taggart

EIGCA AGM and Conference

By Alex Hay.

Last week Gary, Ross, Dave and myself attended the annual EIGCA conference and AGM at the Marine Hotel in North Berwick. It was a great trip that involved golf at North Berwick West Links and Gullane no. 2, courses that attracted golf architects and industry specialists from all over the world. Along with golf and the AGM, a conference day featured guest speakers covering a wide range of topics including ‘Growing the Game’, Flat v’s Undulating Greens’ and ‘Rating GB&I’s Top 100 Courses’.

For many reasons it’s probably best I don’t go into details about the golf, congratulations to Paul Kimber and Niall Glen though who picked up first and second prize in the President’s Cup respectively. The prizes were awarded at the President’s dinner which also saw Peter Fjällman hand over to Tom Mackenzie.

Thank you to all at the EIGCA for organising the event, their industry partners who make it all possible and North Berwick and Gullane Golf Club for making us most welcome. We are looking forward to next year already!

North Berwick West Links

North Berwick West Links

From Gullane to Berwick Law

From Gullane to Berwick Law

From Berwick Law to the West Links and beyond1

From Berwick Law to the West Links and beyond

 

 

A "work experience" at European Golf Design

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.

Dan Steele.

18 Holes on 25 hectares; you must be joking I thought!

For years Robin has been telling us about Painswick Golf Club in the Cotswolds. Last week we finally managed to get there to see it for ourselves; it didn’t let anyone down.

After a monster breakfast we were thrown in at the deep end, a 220 yard par 4 which on the scorecard looks like a very friendly start; wrong, it plays 25m up the hill to a blind green with a 15ft quarry in front of it. It must be one of the shortest holes that is virtually un-driveable. So the first hole breaks some our ‘rules of golf architecture’, and so does almost every hole after that, there are blind par 3’s, shared fairways, crossing holes, and last but not least, holes playing over roads and even cross roads.

Having said all that it was as much fun as I’ve ever had on a golf course, for every shot there was a choice of 3 or 4 clubs, and for every club there was 3 or 4 shot options, you definitely have to think your way round this course and I look forward to returning knowing it a little better, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing to be honest, blissful ignorance helped me a few times the first time round!

Above: Pano from 6th tees

Above: Approaching the 15th Green

Cross Country Golf

I often wonder what the most strategic golf course in the world is. In my opinion it’s not the likes of The Old Course, Oakmont or Royal Melbourne. The answer lies much closer to home; anyone’s home in fact, your local club can be transformed if you play it cross country style; nowhere would a strategic thinking golfer prevail more.

For those who don’t know, the fundamentals of cross country golf are this: Tee it up, agree a distant green with your fellow players and plot your way there. It may involve going round forests, over outcrops of trees, streams and ditches, across fairways and bunkers to greens unlikely to be designed to accommodate shots from all directions. Your shot making skills will be tested to the extreme, not many standard courses will require, draw’s, fades, lob shots and punches all on the same hole; it’s this that makes cross country golf so great, after all, variety is the spice of life! Very few people would play a cross country hole and only think about one shot at a time, like chess you should think at least 2-3 moves ahead.

Many club players could benefit from applying these strategic thoughts to their usual game; too often I see people get the driver out on par 4’s without even looking what lies ahead, there is little else on the golf course as rewarding as making a strategic birdie exactly the way you pictured it in your mind the night before.

Next time you are at your club late one evening why not test your strategic brain cells and play to a different green? Please remember to keep it safe though; keep an eye out for other golfers and playing over roads and buildings is definitely not recommended!

We’d love to hear your cross country golf stories so please tweet us @eurogolfdesign; the most interesting will win a Nike hat signed by Paul Casey!

Canadian Golf

I am back in the office after a great holiday driving from Calgary to Vancouver. Whilst there I was lucky enough to play a couple of Stanley Thompsons finest golf courses. Born in Toronto in 1893 he was one of 4 brothers and 5 sisters, all the boys became good players (two were professionals) after learning the game whilst caddying at Toronto Golf Club.

Thompson then began a career in course design. After starting a family design and construction company and working on many courses he designed Banff Springs in 1928, Canada Pacific funded the project and it is rumoured to be North America’s first million dollar build. It was a course that I had known of for many years and it didn’t let me down. Every hole was framed by spectacular scenery and the bunkers were incredible, apparently, like many other designers of his era, Thompson like a drink or two, I think you can see that in some of his work; the 15th tee is something else! There are many great features that I hope to use in designs of my own in the future.

Once in Vancouver I managed to organise a game at Capilano Golf and Country Club with the assistant superintendant Michael Newton. This was another great example of Thompson’s work and the course has on the whole stayed true to the original design, recent renovations have also reverted back to original features where aspects had changed slightly. The course was as good as I have played anywhere and was in immaculate condition, although we had some rain and it was pretty cloudy the photos are still an explosion of colour! I think it’s a great reflection of the work that is done there. My golf was pretty ropey so I look forward to getting back there one day and playing a little better, thanks for the thrashing Mike!

Whilst in Whistler I was also fortunate to play at Big Sky designed by Bob Cupp. Again the course was great and the scenery unbelievable. Sustainable golf development is a hot topic at the moment in Europe, this was a great example of a course fitting seamlessly with its surroundings; just ask the bears that we saw on the 4th tee!

That’s enough from me but all that is left to say is that the golf I played in Canada was as good as any country I’ve played in, that’s before you take into account the wildlife, rivers and 9000ft mountains that surround you! I must also thank Steve Young at Banff, Chris Wallace at Big Sky and Brad Burgart at Capilano for organising the golf, I definitely owe them all (and some others) a few drinks when they are next in the UK.
You can find out more about Thompson and his design principles at www.stanleythompson.com

Above: The 14th hole playing towards the Banff Springs Hotel

Above: The approach to 13 at Capilano

Above: The 4th at Big Sky with Bears approaching!

Above: A Black bear on the roadside near Whistler

Studying Golf Course Architecture

For the past couple of years I have been lucky enough to be studying a vocational qualification in Golf Course Design with the European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA). The course covered a wide range of subjects from the history of the game to the latest design and construction methods and modern sustainability issues, over the 2 years we completed both written assignments and design work covering these topics and more.

The recent EIGCA conference and AGM in Malmö provided the setting for me to present my final design project, this work has received a majority of my attention over the past 6-months (just ask Alaina!). I arrived on the Monday afternoon and after some lunch was able to present my work; after a couple of hours with Ken Moodie and Peter Fjällman I was able to relax with ‘en stor stark’, I am still waiting for my final grades so maybe that was a bit premature!

With the assignment out of the way there was still plenty to learn during the week that followed. Ross, Robin and myself, along with 35 others from the Institute started the ‘Raising the Standard of Sustainable Golf Course Development’ seminars. This is a programme developed by the EIGCA along with the Golf Environment Organisation (GEO) consisting of 33 hours of web based seminars, having just completed a 2 year course what had I let myself in for!? Joking aside, I’m sure it will prove to be beneficial to us all. After completing these seminars, members should have the knowledge and information to complete a case study, if successful our names will be added to the EIGCA Sustainability Register.

Before and after these seminars was some Golf. First up was at the PGA National Links Course. The course is a great example of modern golf development, luckily for me the growing season in Sweden is only a couple of weeks old and the rough was short enough to find the errant tee shots! In the days that followed the Presidents Cup was contested on rounds at Ljunghusens (1932) and Falsterbo (1909) Golf Clubs, these two great courses are set about as far south as you can go in Sweden and need a blog of their own to do them justice, the wind was blowing 3-4 clubs, something told me that this was a calm as it would get! After a couple of days of hitting the ball well tee to green I suspect that Ross’s and I scores were somewhere mid table of the 65 or so golfers, Robin did rather better winning the overall event after an impressive total of 74 stableford points. I think the trophy will be displayed with pride in his office!

The AGM took place on the Thursday, it was an opportunity for important issues to be discussed and new President Peter Fjällman was voted in. He has taken over from Rainer Preissmann who has done an excellent job over the past couple of years. After the AGM it was time for the Industry Partners dinner. It was a great opportunity to meet and catch up with friends; I am really looking forward to working with them all in the future.

The morning after the night before started with a series of presentations on Nordic golf. There were some great speakers and the courses in the area are as good as any in the world and should be on the to-do list for any golfer. The rest of the day was filled with some interesting talks from EIGCA members and other industry experts. Later that evening I returned home but many stayed for the Presidents dinner, I hear from Ross and Robin that it was a great evening and there is a lot of optimism for the future. It was a fantastic week and I’m looking forward to next year’s event already. A big thank you must go to Julia and Sue for all their hard work!

Above: EIGCA President Peter Fjällman (left) & past President Rainer Preissmann

Above: Falsterbo Golf Club