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!

Ryder Cup Memorable Moments

It’s Ryder Cup Week and that means memorable Ryder Cup moments. For us those moments were back in 2010 at Celtic Manor with the course we designed (Ross McMurray), The Twenty Ten Course. The 2010 Ryder Cup was even described as the “greatest ever” after the sun shone on a dramatic final day with the then Wales Open champion Graeme McDowell secured the winning point for Europe in the very last match.

Fast forward 11 years and we look forward to 2023 and making more memorable moments on the spectacular 2023 Ryder Cup Course at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, the course we led the design (Dave Sampson).

Ryder Cup 2010 – Day 4 – 4th October 2010 – Celtic Manor Resort Newport, Wales. Please Credit – Ian Cook – Sportingwales

The Dutch celebrates 10 years since it opened back in 2011

With it being the Dutch Open week on the European Tour we thought it would be a good time to look back at the course we designed (EGD’s Ross McMurray) in association with Ryder Cup Legend Colin Montgomerie, aptly named course “The Dutch”. It is also a fitting time as The Dutch is celebrating 10 years since it opened back in 2011. The course was designed with a mission to transfer the Scottish experience to Dutch soil. The result: a beautiful Inland Links Championship Course. The Dutch is part of European Tour Destinations; a network of world-class golf courses all closely linked to The European Tour. It has hosted the KLM Open from 2016 to 2018 in collaboration with KLM, TIG Sports and the European Tour, it recently hosted The B-NL Challenge Trophy. Find out more on The Dutch website at https://thedutch.nl/

Royal Norwich relocates to new EGD designed home at Weston Estate

After more than twenty years of planning Royal Norwich has finally relocated to its new home at Weston Estate, a few miles outside the city. The golf course, created by European Golf Design, was officially opened for play by Ian Poulter, who took time out from his BMW PGA Championship preparations to play the course on Monday 16th September.
The move for Royal Norwich comes after 125 years at its Hellesdon site and after selling that property to Persimmon Homes.

Speaking about the project European Golf Design MD, Jeremy Slessor, said: “I first visited the site in 2006 and knew immediately that it had the potential to become a fine golf course. The mature parkland with its many specimen trees sets it apart from most other sites. After all this time I’m thrilled that we have played a part in creating an exciting future for Royal Norwich and I wish the membership the best of luck in their new home”.

Ross McMurray was the lead designer on the project for European Golf Design and he commented: “From the start our design goals have been inspired by the wishes of Royal Norwich. The club developed a clear vision for its future and set strategic aims which helped us to define the design requirements on the Weston Estate. ‘Acknowledge our heritage and embrace the future’ was one of Royal Norwich’s fundamental objectives and so we have gone to great lengths to design a golf course which is very modern in its outlook but respects and responds to the existing landscape. I wanted the course to possess an immediate sense of maturity so that it sat comfortably within this fabulous parkland and I’m delighted that this has been achieved.”

“The club wanted the course to be long enough to challenge the best golfers if required, but most importantly it needed to be a course which was playable for higher handicaps and short enough for golfers of all standards to enjoy. The course measures over 7,200 yards from the back tees but only 5,330 from the forward tees, so there should be a course length that is suitable for everyone. I’m sure the members will find it great fun.”

As well as the new 18 hole course at Royal Norwich, European Golf Design has also created a six hole Academy Course. Built to the same standards as the main course it provides a much shorter golf experience with three par 3s and three par 4s and should take no more than one hour to play. The Academy Course has been an important part of the proposals from the start and it fulfils another key objective for Royal Norwich, to ensure there is a clear members’ journey in place from junior through to senior.

Ross McMurray continued: “I must say I am full of admiration for what Royal Norwich have done. To relocate their golf course and also change the whole structure and strategy of their club has been a magnificent achievement. They deserve every plaudit and I hope what they have done provides a template for other golf clubs to follow.”

For more details please contact:

Jeremy Slessor – jslessor@egd.com
Ross McMurray – rmcmurray@egd.com
Tel: 01344 870300

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

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

Out on the Course

“Do you get to play the courses you’ve designed?” It’s a question I’m often asked by people when they hear what I do for a living, and the answer is “yes, but not as often as you might think”. Although we might visit a new golf course thirty or more times during construction and establishment the opportunities to play the course are actually few and far between. We might get a small window of opportunity to play the course, or more usually a few holes, before opening day, and then perhaps once or twice more when we make our final site visits, but thereafter the chance to take on our own design are fairly infrequent. Even when you do visit the course over subsequent months and years, we’re normally too busy looking at it professionally to have time to play it leisurely.

So when we get the chance to return purely for golf we tend to grab it with both hands, and recently we’ve revisited a couple of EGD courses which were originally opened in the late ‘90’s. Ten days ago three of our number took time out to play the course we designed with Ian Woosnam at Dale Hill Hotel & Country Club in East Sussex. The course, which has some wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding “1066” countryside (a reference to nearby Hastings), was in great shape and a delight to play on a wonderful summer’s day.

And then last week I was lucky enough to be invited to the Woburn Classic Golf Day which was played on the Marquess Course, the youngest of three wonderful courses at Woburn Golf & Country Club. It had been some time since I last visited the course and I was eager to see how it looked and played. Well, all I can say is that I was impressed. The conditioning was superb, certainly the best I’ve seen there over the last 15 years, and John Clarke, the Golf Course Manager at Woburn, and Gary Leadbetter, his head greenkeeper on The Marquess, deserve a huge amount of praise.

This has been an exciting time for Woburn, and especially for The Marquess Course which had its 14th birthday in June this year and had two great reasons to celebrate. Earlier this month it was one of four courses around the country to stage the Final Open Championship Qualifying (the other three qualifying courses selected by the R&A were Sunningdale New, Hillside and Gailes Links). Irish amateur Paul Dunne comfortably led the Woburn qualifiers with Oliver Fisher and Celtic Manor touring pro Rhys Enoch (a man who obviously likes EGD courses!) taking the other two places available.

The week after Open Qualifying it was announced that The Marquess will be the venue for the 2016 RICOH Women’s British Open Championship. This is a major coup for Woburn and shows how The Marquess is held in increasingly high regard, particularly when one looks at the current rota for the championship. The venues for the proceeding years leading up to 2016 will have been; The Old Course, St Andrews (2013), Royal Birkdale (2014) and Turnberry Ailsa Course (2015).

The Marquess already has a track record of hosting high quality tournaments, having staged two British Masters soon after it opened in 2001 and 2002 and then the English Amateur Championship in 2011, and it is great news that it will now stage one of women’s golf major championships. In fact 2016 will be an exciting year for EGD as well. With the RICOH Women’s British Open on The Marquess and the Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club, two of that year’s women’s major championships will be played on EGD courses.

Above: 7th Hole on The Marquess

Above: 14th Hole on The Marquess

EGD course feature in top 100 Golf Courses in Continental Europe

Lists of the World’s top golf courses always sparks lively debate in EGD towers whenever they are published. No one ever agrees with the actual rankings and mock indignation is often expressed at the inclusion of some courses at the expense of others. If our own golf courses fail to make ‘the list’ then we decry the inability of the selection panel to understand the obvious superiority of the design and we criticise the whole concept of trying to compare one course against another. On the other hand when courses by European Golf Design are included then we congratulate the panel members on their fine judgement and impeccable ability to understand the intricacies of great golf course architecture!

So, in the past week, we’ve had nothing but praise for those fine fellows at Golf World magazine following the publication of their biennial list of the Top 100 Golf Courses in Continental Europe. And the reason? It’s because there are no fewer than six courses within the rankings which we’ve been involved with. Five of our Courses (Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya designed in association with Neil Coles and Angel Gallardo, The Faldo Course at Sporting Club Berlin designed with Nick Faldo, The Sultan at Antalya Golf Club, Navarino Dunes with Bernhard Langer and Linna Golf) all made the list in 2011 and for 2013 they are joined by a brand new course in The Netherlands called The Dutch. The Dutch is another of the courses we have designed with Colin Montgomerie, who (with our assistance) is building a fine portfolio of work across Europe. Two of Colin’s courses are on the European Tour schedule for this year and The Dutch is already marked down to stage the Dutch Open for three years from 2016.

In addition to the top 100 courses a further five of our courses are included in Golf World’s list of the next 100. These include Lighthouse GC designed with Ian Woosnam, the newly renovated Evian Golf Club, the recently opened Zavidovo PGA National Russia, The Montgomerie Maxx and The Pasha at Antalya GC. Impressively that makes eleven courses by European Golf Design and our partners in the top 200 in Europe.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these courses is their geographical spread, located as they are in The Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, France, Russia and Finland, confirming our reputation for building high quality golf courses in different styles and in many different regions of the world.

Above: The Dutch

Above: PGA Catalunya

Above: The Faldo Course at Sporting Club Berlin

Above: The Sultan at Antalya Golf Club