The Magical Golf-Club Crans-sur-Sierre

As this season’s winter works draw to a close at, we reflect on what has been one of the more challenging and restrictive builds over the past few years. This season’s work has involved the following:

  • A new putting green, (twice the size of the previous one)
  • New tee complex for Hole 1,
  • Redesigned green complex for hole 2, as well as
  • A new green and tee complex for hole 3.

 

The actual scope of work itself was smaller in size and complexity to the previous season, however, an extremely wet late autumn meant that some of the main earthworks and drainage were unable to be completed, and would need to be finished off this spring. Which, considering the amount of the works, shouldn’t have been too much of an issue.

Then, along comes Covid-19, and the everything and everyone gets shaken to the core. The uncertainty of if, and when, works could recommence was unknown. Travel restrictions throughout Europe, hotels and restaurants all closed – it was all making things extremely difficult for both the Contractor and ourselves to get back to site.

 

Fortunately however, in the Canton the course is situated in, construction works were able to continue. And, thanks to client assistance in helping everyone obtain the necessary local and national authorizations for entry back into the country, we were all able to return safely to site.

Flights however, had been few and far between – some had to drive to different countries to catch a plane, some had to spend 24 hours in an airport. But, with one hotel still being open, and a restaurant able to deliver meals, at the beginning of April, works were able to tentatively get off the ground again.

 

Yes, works were slow initially, but as time went on and more of the workforce were able to get back into full swing, works progressed well, and we are now looking to be finished in the next two weeks. Considering all the challenges (and trying to get turf deliveries in from the UK), to only be a week or so behind schedule, is testament to all the hard work, dedication and commitment from the Client, the Contractors (SOL Golf and Arrosage Concept) and the head superintendent, Richard Barnes, and all his team. The changes are really starting to come together nicely, and, as the club continually aspire to keep getting better, this season’s work should prove to be another great step forward.

 

Reflecting back over the past 6 weeks, I do have to remind myself that this is Switzerland after all, and like a fine made Swiss watch, everything really does just work like clockwork.

 

Q&A with EGD Golf Course Designer Dave Sampson

With only hours left until we announce the winner of the Design-3-Holes competition we have been running for the past month or so in association with The European Tour and European Tour Destinations, our thoughts cast back to the last time we did something similar.

Back in 2002, Golf World magazine asked us to run a Design A Hole competition. The site chosen was on an actual project and the prize was that the winning entry would be built as part of that project. The winner was a young Englishman, living at the time in South Africa. So impressed we were with his design, and the time we subsequently spent with him during the construction of the hole (which, by the way, became the 15th hole at Linna Golf in Finland), that eventually we offered him a job. Sixteen years later, he’s still with us – and still producing outstanding designs.


Above: The hundreds of entries to the Golf World Design A Hole competition.

Above: The completed 15th Hole at Linna Golf in Finland.

Meet Dave Sampson.

Where were you when you saw the competition in Golf World?
I was over in the UK from South Africa to see my family. I had a friend in London and stayed with him the night before my flight back home. He had a copy of the magazine – in the few hours I had between seeing the magazine and getting on my flight to Johannesburg, I sketched out six different designs, posting them from the departure lounge at Heathrow. A few weeks later, I got a call to say I’d won the competition!

What happened then?
Well, I’d already decided to come back to the UK as soon as my studies were completed. At the time, I was studying for a degree in architecture and just had my thesis to complete. Shortly after that was presented, I travelled back to the UK and got a job as a cricket analyst with Surrey County Cricket Club.

My dad introduced my brother and I to all sports. Winter was golf season, cricket was in the summer. In between we played and watched everything else. I was a pretty handy cricketer (although it has been said that I was the less talented brother at that) but golf was my real passion. I started playing at about the age of nine, and almost from the first moment was drawing golf holes on anything I could find around the house. I pretty much knew from twelve years old that I wanted to design golf courses for a living – almost any car journey in South Africa is a long one given the vastness of the country and my time sat in a car would be spent looking at the landscape we were driving through, imagining holes here and there.

Although I ended up studying building architecture, I started my university career in landscape architecture and only changed when, mid-course, I moved between universities to be nearer to my at-the-time girlfriend. That relationship didn’t last, and nor did my relationship with building architecture, but I did meet my wife, Stacey, there so it was ultimately a great decision to relocate. We’ve now been married thirteen years and have a seven year old son, Michael.

What drives you to continue to excel at what you do?
I love the process. I love the thinking that goes behind unlocking the routing on a particular bit of ground – if you get the routing right, you’re half-way there. I love thinking at both micro and macro levels and how one element of design relates to another. I love the transition from design into construction. I love coming up with something new, something unique.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I play as much golf as I can, which is not very much unfortunately. I run and I watch sport on TV fanatically. What I have enjoyed the most about the lockdown over the past couple of months is spending time with Stacey and Michael. The traveling that we do means I am away from home for much of the time, so to be able to spend uninterrupted time with them has been an amazing experience.

What three things that you own say the most about you as a person?
1. My golf clubs – golf and sport are my passions
2. I have this small ‘wooden’ trophy of the 15th hole at Linna. Everyone asks what it is and so I get to tell my story
3. I asked Stacey if I should say my wedding ring, but she said my iPad (go figure…haha)- in her words, it’s pretty much an extension of me (nearly all of the time with sport on it)

Above: Dave with his wife Stacey and son Michael at the Evian Royal Resort, Dave undertook the redesign and renovation of the existing course in preparation for the 5th Major on the LPGA tour, The Evian Championship, in 2013.

New Par 3 course at the Evian Resort Golf Academy

European Golf Design have been working with the Evian Resort for almost 10 years now, and what a pleasure it has been – a client, who year on year strives to grow, evolve and improve their golf offerings, we are honoured for the opportunity to help them on their ambitious journey.

This year their focus turned to the state of the art Golf Academy – an exquisite facility with 180 degree views down over Lac Leman and set above the town of Evian-les-bains. The practice facilities are fantastic, with a double-ended practice range, a large putting green in front of the old Manoir house (which serves as the Clubhouse), and numerous other practice greens to practice all variety of shots. In addition to this, was a 4 hole executive course, and this was where this years changes have taken place.

The brief was to transform the existing course into a 6 hole par 3 course, with the simple instruction being that every hole had to have both the ‘Fun’ and ‘Wow’ factors. To achieve this, we developed a routing which managed to re-utilise all four of the original green sites, with the addition of two new ones. The hole lengths vary from a mere 115m to 165m, with each hole having multiple tees to vary both the lengths and shot angles. We have also managed to incorporate numerous different tee shot offerings – from the drop shot on holes 1 and 4, to the uphill 5th with its semi-blind pin, and the side-slope holes of 3 & 6, variety is in abundance.

Works commenced in the first week of 2020, and all greens, both new and existing, were turfed by early March. The final areas will seeded later on this week, and the new 6 hole par 3 course at the Evian Resort Golf Academy is scheduled to open for play in early June.

Royal Porthcawl – Through the eyes of a golfer, a designer and graphic designer.

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!

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.

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).

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.

Hole 2_3

Royal Greens_Saudi_1

Royal Greens_Saudi_2

Royal Greens_Saudi_3

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.

A return to the Evian Championship

I returned to Evian for the first time since the inaugural Evian Championship in September 2013 (formerly the Evian Masters), and was glad to see how much the course had improved over the past year.
Conditions during both construction and last year’s tournament were unseasonably extreme, with excessive snow being encountered through the winter build, and torrential rain during the tournament causing the championship to be reduced to 54 holes.

A year on, and the course has come on significantly. After the previous year’s travails, drainage improvements have been carried out in-house over the past year, and these have further assisted with the overall improved turf quality, course setup and presentation throughout.

In terms of a ‘major’ tournament experience, the golf club have made great strides on this front. The purchasing of a narrow strip of land above the right side of the short par 3 16th has provided the event with improved spectator & hospitality platforms around the newly termed, Evian ‘Puzzle’ (Holes, 5, 15, 16 & 18) . Also improved is the seating amphitheatre behind 18 green which has been steepened slightly to improve viewing down over the green complex.

The Golf Club is extremely proactive and forward thinking, with further additions and improvements planned for next year, most notably, a full length cart path system. On the course front, drainage improvements will be ongoing and minor amendments to a couple of greens may also be carried out.

Finally, this year’s tournament, played in much more favourable sunny and firm conditions, was won by the 19 year old South Korean, Hjo Joo Kim. Her winning score of 273 (11 under par), amazingly contained a record low score for a major of 61 (10 under) on day one. Many congratulations to her and everyone else who made this year’s championship such a success.

Above: The 16th Hole at Evian