2023 Sustainable Golf Developments

Introduction

2023 has been an exciting year working with sustainable golf developments. With more projects engaging, working in new locations, more certifications being achieved and in general more interest in sustainable golf and climate action throughout the entire golf industry. This continual and increased industry engagement emphasises how parts of the industry are feeling about this important topic and that they are willing to try and make a difference.

Another point of note from 2023 was the launch of a Sustainable Golf Renovations guide and improved support for courses planning a renovation. This the latest in a series of Sustainable Golf guidelines produced by the development team. This improved support will help golf courses to carry out connected and sustainable renovations, whether a small upgrade or wholesale changes to the course and surrounding area.

The team continued to work alongside the three major architect’s organizations (American Society of Golf Course Architects. (ASGCA); European Institute of Golf Course Architects (EIGCA); and Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA)) as they progress with their joint pledge to take climate action.

For more information visit https://sustainable.golf/

Bognor Regis Golf Club

In Planning
Bognor Regis, England
Designer: Gary Johnston, EIGCA, European Golf Design

When the land that the original Bognor Regis Golf Club sat on was planned to be sold for housing, a new site was required where the course and club could be re-built and re-invented. When land was found, new permission was required. As the development was seeking to achieve GEO Certified® Development status we worked with the club and European Golf Design to help with the planning application. A very open, large, arable agricultural field greeted us at the site visit and the team were convinced that this project would have a number of positive impacts – and that this was a process that we wanted to assist in as much as we could.

By creating a Sustainability Blueprint for the project, which set out the positive sustainability impacts and outputs from the designs, we were able to provide the local council with the assurances that the planned development of the golf course would be have a positive impact on the community, site and local wildlife population.

As the planning permission process continues and wait for the development process to begin we have no doubt that this project has the potential to significantly boost the biodiversity levels and be able to address minor flooding issues around the area with its proposals.

Hulton Park

In Planning
Bolton, England
Designer: Ross McMurray, EIGCA, European Golf Design

Similarly to the Bognor Regis project, Hulton Park is a development in England which is seeking GEO Certified® Development status. We have been involved here since 2016 in the early conceptual stages of the project and as such, have been involved throughout the planning application process.

The project, designed by European Golf Design and owned by PEEL Holdings, has a primary ambitious objective to host a Ryder Cup in the future. Situated on a landscape of mixed woodland, recreational and livestock uses, the project looks to restore a historic designed landscape framework and weave a set of exciting ‘match play’ specialist golf holes throughout the property. Twinned with a best-in-class training academy and short course area, this will also significantly boost the golf offering for the aspiring golfer in Bolton and the North-West of England in the future.

Having recently secured planning approval, focus in the team now switches to Ryder Cup hosting efforts. We have no doubt that this course has to potential to be one of the premier courses in the country.

This Week at EGD

A busy week at EGD was topped off with the fantastic news that EGD Course Designer Dave Sampson has been named in Today’s Golfer “100 Most Influential People in Golf 2023.”

Dave came in 69th place, which is an incredible achievement.

“2023 Ryder Cup Course Creator

The Englishman has worked on many courses for European Golf Design, but he rose to prominence in September when the Ryder Cup visited his creation, Marco Simone. An original course was already in place, but Sampson had full licence to re-do it to make it Ryder Cup-ready.

It was a widely celebrated success as Europe prevailed and entered our Continental Europe ranking at No. 89.”

https://www.todays-golfer.com/features/player-features/100-most-influential-people-in-golf/

Image : Dave came in 69th place, which is an incredible achievement.

Also this week, after 3 weeks of constant rain and snow, Dave was back in Switzerland at Le Golf Club de Crans-sur-Sierre to continue work on greens 10 and 17. Crans-sur-Sierre is host to the Omega European Masters on the DP World Tour.

Image : Dave was back in Switzerland at Le Golf Club de Crans-sur-Sierre.

Gary Johnston spent the week in Dubai. First up, at Montgomerie Golf Club, where work is well underway on the new Par 3 Course and taking shape nicely. Following that, he was at Emaar South checking on his design, which is in the grow-in phase. Gary has history in Dubai, with the course he designed at Dubai Hills being named “Best Course in Dubai 2023” at the recent World Golf Awards.

Image : Gary spent the week in Dubai. First up, at Montgomerie Golf Club
Image : Gary at Emaar South checking on his design

EGD Designer Ross McMurray was in Fife, Scotland, at Elie Golf Club, which is one of the world’s oldest golf courses. Ross has been handed the prestigious task of renovating bunkers and tees around the delightful course. Elie has panoramic views over the Firth of Forth, and the course is steeped in history, dating back to 1589. James Braid, a 5-times winner of The Open who was born in nearby Earlsferry, described the 13th hole at Elie as ‘the best hole in golf’.

Image : EGD Designer Ross McMurray was in Fife, Scotland, at Elie Golf Club

JCB Golf & Country Club designer Robin Hiseman was out scouting for holes in the beautiful European countryside. With snow in the air and temperatures down to 1 degree C, Robin was in his element and “couldn’t be happier.” We will forgive him for the Spurs beanie hat he was wearing!

Image : We will forgive Robin for the Spurs beanie hat!

Foxhills Club & Resort – 16th hole on the Longcross officially open.

It has been a privilege to have been part of the major golf course modernisation project at Foxhills Club & Resort, Surrey, UK.

It was a special moment over the weekend when the signature par 3, 16th hole on the Longcross was officially open!

Members enjoyed a ‘pro’s masterclass’ with David Howell and Shergo Al Kurdi, hosted by the one and only Wayne ‘Radar’ Riley.

With drinks flowing, the hole was unveiled with a celebratory event where we got insight into how the pro’s would approach the hole and how strategy is crucial on our redesigned par-three. With everything from swing tips and club selection, our members were treated to an inspiring and memorable occasion. ⛳️

Press Release – European Golf Design Enters New Territory

On the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea sits the city of Aktau (which, in the local language, means ‘white mountain’ in reference to the cliffs overlooking the sea) a city of 190,000 people. With the increase in regional and some international tourism in recent years in Kazakhstan, developments catering to that market have started to spring up, the latest of which is the Aktau Resort, a master-planned community featuring primary and secondary real estate, multiple hotels, attractions, retail and commercial space, and in the current phase of expansion, a nine hole golf course and academy to be designed by European Golf Design, the design company of The European Tour.

On what is predominantly a sandy coastal site, European Golf Design’s Gary Johnston is working with long-time collaborators Golf Tek, led by Naki Evrandir, and Sembol Construction, both from Turkey. Design work started late in 2020 and construction works have already started on site, with a view to the golf course being fully grassed by the end of September this year, and opening summer 2022.

Although the ninth largest country on earth, covering over 2.7million square kilometres (about the size of Western Europe), golf is a relatively new sport in Kazakhstan with only three courses all located around Almaty. Therefore practice facilities are increasingly important and, with a limited amount of space available, Johnston has designed the course such that there are two loops of three and six holes from, and returning to, the clubhouse. The three hole loop can be taken out of play at required times of the day, or week, and used as the academy area to provide dedicated short game, putting and long game zones or a three hole Academy Course, while play continues on the six hole loop. The intention is to encourage local schools and clubs to take advantage of the facility in the hope that more locals will be enthused to take up the game, as well as providing outstanding golf facilities for residents, guests and tourists alike.

“This has been a whirlwind of a project since our first conversations with the project team last autumn,” said Gary Johnston “and now that construction has started, we are looking forward to getting onto site to work with Naki and his team, alongside our clients at Rixos Hotels & Sembol Construction, to create a course that helps achieve the developers’ business objectives but, as importantly, provides locals and tourists the opportunity of exposure, some for the very first time in their lives, to golf. We’re working hard to make this project as inclusive as possible to ensure long term growth and viability.”

For more information, please contact Jeremy Slessor of European Golf Design at jslessor@egd.com

Titanic Golf Club & Verdura Golf & Spa Resort Construction Update

Titanic Golf Club – Construction Update

Since getting underway in April Golftek have been surging ahead with the construction of first phase of the Titanic Golf Club redevelopment. Work commenced on the holes close to the beach and thanks to the naturally sandy site the first 9 holes have been shaped already with grassing due to commence in September. As the first phase nears completion preparations for phase 2, another nine hole loop, have started and European Golf Design were on site over the summer to refine the hole locations and mark out the minimal amount of tree clearance that’s required.

Above – Rough Shaping of new hole along the river

Above – Selective tree clearance for phase 2

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort

Following the devastation caused when a nearby river burst its banks in 2018 14 of the 36 holes at Verdura Golf & Spa are being completely rebuilt. European Golf Design have been assisting the client team during the construction process which is now nearing completion. Originally planned to take 12 months the construction was impacted by an enforced shutdown due to covid-19 and strict safety measure put in place since work recommenced. Following a busy summer the revamped golf holes have been largely shaped and the grassing finally got underway in July. The construction work is due to be complete at the end of October and it is hoped that nine of the new holes will be open for play in the spring 2021 with the remainder opening later in the summer.

Above – Final preparation and hydroseeding roughs

Above – Final preparation of new 6th hole

A Titanic Renovation

While many of us are still getting used to the new normal of having to work from home it was a bit of sweet relief to hear that the major overhaul of Titanic Golf Club in Belek, Turkey commenced last week. Originally planned to start in September to minimise disruption during the main tourist season the temporary closure of the surrounding hotels and golf courses has allowed the construction to be brought forward.

The driving force behind the work was the construction of a new resort hotel which impacted several of the existing golf holes but the addition of some extra land along the coast and the re-routing of a portion of the existing golf course enabled the golf resort to be extended from 27 to 36 holes.

The two 18 hole layouts will vary slightly in length with a 6,000y academy course and a more challenging 6,600y golf course, however, the four nine-hole loops, that all return to the clubhouse, will be interchangeable to help ease golf course operations during the busier months.

The new golf will retain many of the lakes and water features of the original layout but wider fairways and new bunkering should significantly improve the playability.

The construction work is being carried out by Turkish Construction company Golf Tek and will be the fifth project that they have built with us. Construction is due to take 18 months but a phased opening will see the first new golf holes being open for play in late 2020.

Creating the Montgomerie Maxx Royal

The Brief
To design an 18 hole golf course in association with Colin Montgomerie, in the resort of Belek, near Antalya in Turkey.

The Site

Set within 104 hectares of picturesque, mixed pine forest and sandy ridges, the feel of the natural environment has been maintained, thereby enchancing the particular characteristics of the golf course.

The Course
With one of the most impressive clubhouses in Belek, views of the course and surrounding area are available from the 30 meter tower of the clubhouse.

The course forms part of a new 200 million-euro golf and hotel complex. To complement the 18-hole championship golf course, there is a flood-lit nine-hole short course and a golf academy, as well as a 600-room five-star hotel and 31 holiday villas.

Turkish Airlines Open

After a three-year absence, the Turkish Airlines Open has returned to the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course in Belek, which first staged the tournament in 2013. This year, many big names will be chasing a first prize of $2 million, from a $7 million pot.

When Colin Montgomerie along with European Golf Design began designing the Montgomerie Maxx Royal on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, he hoped that it would become a well-respected course and bolster golf in the region.

From the moment it opened in 2008, the design was immediately recognized by many professionals as one of the country’s best. It took just five years for it to stage its first big event, the Turkish Airlines Open, part of the European Tour. It attracted Tiger Woods in its first year, when he famously shot a 63 (9-under-par) in the second round.

In the two years that followed, big names came to Turkey. Brooks Koepka of the United States, who made his name on the European Tour before winning multiple majors, won in 2014 and Victor Dubuisson of France, who won in 2013, triumphed for a second time in 2015. When the tournament moved to the nearby Carya Golf Club in 2016, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark took the title, while Justin Rose of England won in 2017 and 2018.

Now a part of the Rolex Series, its importance is emphasized by its place in the calendar. After Turkey, there is just one more event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa, before the DP World Tour Championship, which will decide the final standings in the season-long Race to Dubai competition. Last year it was won by Francesco Molinari of Italy.

The Montgomerie Maxx Royal has a par-72, 7,132-yard layout, with undulating fairways within about 260 acres of mixed pine forest and sandy ridges. The course begins and ends with par 5s, offering the chance for a good start and a grandstand finish, when the lead can change hands in the closing holes.

Dubai Hills by European Golf Design is named World’s Best New Course

Dubai Hills – the most recent course by Berkshire-based architecture firm European Golf Design – has been named the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the prestigious World Golf Awards.

Dubai Hills was chosen ahead of seven other nominees from around the world to land the title at the annual awards, with contenders including Jack Nicklaus’ Michlifen in Morocco, spectacular Hoiana Shores in Vietnam and JCB Golf and Country Club in England.

The JCB course in Staffordshire was also created by European Golf Design, which is the design company of the European Tour and IMG.

EGD’s architect Gary Johnston laid out Dubai Hills, which opened at the end of 2018 and has already made a significant impact in the emirate’s golf scene.

It enjoys views of the famous skyline of downtown Dubai, most notably on the par-5 5th hole, which Johnston has routed so that it plays directly towards the iconic Burj Khalifa.

The course, whose paspalum grasses ensure it is in immaculate condition all year round, incorporates three phases.

The front nine plays through a series of deep wadis (valleys) whereas there is a more open, desert feel to the back nine. Both halves end with challenging holes dominated by the large lakes.

“To have Dubai Hills recognised as the World’s Best New Course, given what it is up against both regionally and internationally, is hugely satisfying,” says EGD’s managing director Jeremy Slessor.


Above: Dubai Hills Designer, Gary Johnston.

Three of the firm’s other Middle East designs were also winners at the awards: Dubai Creek was named Best Course in the Middle East; Royal GC the Best Course in Bahrain; and Royal Greens the Best Course in Saudi Arabia.

The victory for Dubai Hills is vindication for Johnston’s emphasis on playability rather than on another tournament-standard course for the Middle East.

“Like The Montgomerie and Arabian Ranches, Dubai Hills was always going to be a members’ golf club and, while it may sound obvious, we wanted to create a facility members would enjoy playing,” says Johnston.

“We tried hard not to fall into the trap of making it too difficult or too long, so deliberately made the fairways that little bit wider but added interest by making them very undulating.

“The greens also have plenty of movement but knowing how quick they were likely to get once open, we made sure we didn’t go overboard.”

The award – which was announced at a ceremony at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi – adds to the firm’s already stellar reputation in the Middle East.

EGD – who have also been involved in the Ryder Cup courses of 2010, 2018 and 2022 – have worked in the region for well over a decade on projects in Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

“The Middle East is an incredibly dynamic region,” adds Slessor.

“Everywhere we have worked, we’ve come across different cultures, techniques and challenges. We would like to think that experience has paid off in the success Dubai Hills is enjoying now.

“Equally, it would be wrong for us to take sole credit for that success – this has been a collaborative process: working with Emaar to define the brief in the first place, through to design work, construction and now maintenance, the entire project team deserves enormous credit.”

Johnston is already working on another new course in Dubai for Emaar, which will be located close to the new Al Maktoum international airport.

Emaar’s brief included firm ideas of what they wanted from Dubai Hills – and the result is a course unlike any other in Dubai.

“The client wanted us to take the best bits of their other courses and add a bit of extra ‘wow’ factor,” says Johnston.

“We managed to do this by creating some significant elevation changes on the front nine – something you don’t tend to get on many Dubai courses.

“We also used the corridor layout to keep the focus on the hole that is being played and limit opportunities to see what is coming up ahead.”

This aspect, allied to the promise of outstanding year-round conditioning and the emphasis on playability, has meant Dubai Hills has enjoyed a successful entry to the Dubai golf market.

“Golfers of all abilities took to the layout and challenge immediately,” says Dubai Hills general manager Elliott Gray.

“It was incredible to see so many golfers in the UAE who had not been part of a golf club in the past four years join the club in early December 2018.

“The friendly ‘stadium like’ fairways have ensured membership sales targets were exceeded in the first six weeks of preview play.”

The World Golf Awards are part of the World Travel Awards, which are now in their 26th year. Voting on the awards is done by golf travel and tourism industry professionals and also by the public.

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Jeremy Slessor on 01344 870300 or jslessor@egd.com.

Note: The attached images are free to use, with a credit for Kevin Murray.

Work underway at Emaar South

Work on the new Emaar South Golf Course in Dubai commenced at the end of 2018. The new 18 hole golf development will be the second UAE Course we have designed for Emaar Properties, one of the region’s leading property developers, the first being Dubai Hills Golf Club which opened for play in November last year.

The golf course will form an integral part of the Emaar South residential community that is being built close to the new Al Maktoum International Airport and will provide both recreational and social benefits for residents, members, and visitors.

Prior to starting work the site was an untouched desert with an endless expanse of rolling sand dunes and our intention is to try and retain the feel of the existing landscape character within the finished golf course. There will be large expanses of desert waste bunkers and an emphasis on the use of native desert style plants that will have low requirements for irrigation.

Interestingly the waste bunkers have been designed to serve a dual purpose as they will also act as holding areas for stormwater on the occasions that it does rain in the desert.

The golf course is being built in two phases to coincide with the development of the residential components, with the first phase being scheduled for completion in 2019.

Emaar South will be the fifth European Golf Design project built in the region, following our work at Dubai Hills, the recent construction of Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in Saudi Arabia, Royal Golf Club at Riffa Views in Bahrain and a major renovation at Dubai Creek.