• Latest News from European Golf Design

    Dubai Hill named ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ at the prestigious 2019 World Golf Awards

Evian – Construction progress update

Renovation works at the new ‘Evian Resort Golf Club’ (course name re branded from the ‘Evian Masters Golf Club’) are progressing well, and if the winter weather had played its part, things would be coming along even better.

Renovating in the Alps at this time of year has its difficulties, and winter rain and snow have caused some minor disruption; however, despite at times some tough conditions, the commitment and hard work from everyone on-site to get the new golf course built, has to be commended.

So far, of the 20 green complexes s that is being re-built, 14 are now complete. 80% of the new irrigation system is installed. Fairway grading and bunkering works remain on 2 golf holes, and only one more tee complex is outstanding.

The majority of the works remaining is topsoil replacement and preparation, turfing and the planting of the 170 new trees.

Things are starting to come together quickly now, and fingers crossed, with a little better weather assistance from ‘upstairs’, completion of the golf course construction works won’t be too far off!

Above: Turfing around 5th Green

In the Beginning…

This was it. Death…or Glory. The final hole. The final approach shot. All that stood between me and victory was 120 yards of shimmering water, surrounding the pin prick sized island green. With a pounding heart and trembling hands, I made a slow backswing and with the sole thought of “don’t look up” on rapid repeat in my mind, I carefully transitioned into the downswing. Then….I looked up. Rather than striking into the meat of the ball, my club made contact close to the equator. An awful, thin sting reverberated up my arms and in an instant I knew I was doomed. Rather than prescribing a graceful arc against the cobalt blue skies, my ball speared furiously toward the engulfing waters. It smashed hard into the agua, disappearing for ever…or so I thought. So bad was the contact, that the ball was loaded with topspin and it instantly launched itself back into the air. One skim, two skims, three skims and then with one final, improbable salmon leap, the ball jumped up onto the green and ran out towards the flag. A miraculous escape and as I made my way around the lake shore to the green, victory and glory was assured.

At least that is what I saw in my mind’s eye. What any casual observer wandering across the windswept pastures of Rishworth School playing fields, high in the Pennine Hills would have seen is a solitary, mop headed 10-year old kid skulling a greying Penfold Commando across the outfield of a cricket pitch towards the roped off square, with a cut down, hickory shafted 7-iron. All that broke the silence in the lowering gloom was the constant fizz and crackle from the high voltage cables hanging from the twin lines of National Grid pylons that marched across the high moors in a mournful metallic parade and the far away drone of a farmer harvesting silage.

And that is how this career in golf course design started for me back in the late 70’s. Often on my own, or with my elder brother Andy, we would head up to the enormous playing field and make up imaginary golf holes from the bleak expanses. Teeing off we might hit over the rugby posts, before skirting around the (imaginary) fierce rough of the hockey pitch and over the (thankfully literal) sandy hazard of the long jump pit before reaching the eventual target of the cricket pitch roller.

And so it went on with many hours passed blissfully in this picturesque dreamscape. I could never have known then that because of these mindful distractions that a lifetime of…frustrating golfing mediocrity would ensue. I should have been doing what our Andy was concentrating on, which was getting better at golf! But it proved to be the genesis of a career. Something snagged in my brain that making up golf holes would be a fun thing to do, yet without a thought as to how one actually went about it. Besides, at that age I still had more pressing ambitions about being either the next Niki Lauda, Glenn Hoddle, or Ian Botham (depending upon the season).

This has always been the version of events that I have told people when asked, “what made you want to become a golf designer?” But, I’ve come to realise that there was an even more profound influence on me at that tender age and I can even pin it down to a specific date and time. Saturday, the 5th of January, 1980, a short while after 4:45 pm. But this is a story for another time…

Above: Rishworth School playing fields

Mad Designers and Englishdogs

“A study suggests…” My heart sinks whenever I see these words. You know the sort of thing;

“A study suggests that coffee, tea, red meat, chicken, alcohol, too much sun, not enough sun, etc, etc, can be good/bad,/good and bad/ for you, and can knock years off/add years to/ make no difference whatsoever to/ your life”.

Here’s a selection of recent headlines, all beginning with those fateful words “A study suggests”;

…..Men care about their car more than their health
…..Strawberries protect women from heart attacks
…..Snowboarding linked to increase in injuries
…..Women moan most about their colds
…..Top footballers have high intelligence

Now normally I wouldn’t pay too much attention to these stories. They nearly always play on our insecurities about our own health and invariably they are ‘news’ items released by PR companies looking to gain publicity for their clients.

But one recent story caught my attention. A study suggests that taking dogs to work ‘reduces employee stress’. Now I don’t have a dog but ‘according to research’ (yes, there’s another dreaded phrase) access to dogs in the work place boosts morale and reduces stress levels, not just for the dog owners but for those people who have access to other peoples dogs.

A spokesperson said, “We encourage our employees to bring in their well-behaved dogs where practical and we have seen similar results to the survey – a more enjoyable working environment, staff more likely to take regular breaks and a reduction in stress through stroking and petting dogs during the working day.”

Which all explains why, at European Golf Design, we work in a virtually stress free atmosphere, in the presence of Mac, a Black Labrador belonging to Alex, and Riley, Gary’s Working Cocker Spaniel.

Of course it’s only stress free if you can keep the two of them apart, and there was that one very stressful occasion when Mac escaped and raided the local butchers, but otherwise they retain a permanent sangfroid which probably benefits us all. That is until they hear the biscuit box being opened!

Above: Riley and Mac on best behaviour

Football Crazy!

While I realise this blog is normally devoted to golf I want to talk about an entirely different sport – football!

We Brits tend to think we are passionate about our football but if you have ever been in Morocco you would realise they take their love for the game to another level. If you have ever been there while the national team is playing you can’t help but notice the buzz of excitement on the streets ahead of the game (even just for a friendly) and if they win you certainly know about it, singing in the streets, waving their red and green flags and, rather annoyingly, beeping their car horns till the early hours of the morning.

Just as in many other countries football is popular amongst the children who love to play whenever they can, but with few real pitches in Morocco they often have to make use of anywhere they find – including golf course construction sites!

Pulling up on the 15th hole during a recent site visit to our project in Marrakech we came across a group of children who had sneaked onto the site and were making use of one of our levelled tees and the chalk we use for marking out to make their own pitch. Thinking they would be in trouble they promptly stopped playing, grabbed their home made ball and scarpered. Now whilst I certainly wouldn’t encourage this kind of behaviour on one of our sites I really couldn’t help but smile at the inventiveness of these kids and the enjoyment they were clearly having before we got there and ruined their game!

Construction recommences at Evian

Phase 2 construction work in preparation for the new major on the LPGA tour is well underway and the proposed changes to the course are now starting to take shape.

The most notable changes to the golf course layout will take place on golf holes 5, which has been converted from an uphill par 4 to a dramatic one-shotter played over water, and the final four holes, where we are creating a ‘stadium-like’ amphitheatre around the new green complexes 15, 16 & 18.

In terms of the actual golf course features, the previously small and undulating greens are being replaced by larger greens with many more pin locations. The beauty behind the majority of the new greens is that not only will they reward pinpoint accuracy but they are also designed to be receptive to shots that are played along the ground, ensuring that the golfer always has multiple options in which to attack any pin position.

The new bunker styles are designed to be more of a deterrent and penalty, replacing the large & flat bunkers of the past. They will have a more natural and ‘ragged’ edge to them, and will be smaller and deeper, more in scale and proportion to the narrow tree-lined golf holes in which they will sit.

Additional and larger tees have been added to most of the golf holes allowing for more flexibility in the course setup.

To increase the drama and climax of the course, additional water features have been added, mainly to the closing golf holes. As mentioned above, Hole 5 will now be played over a large lake, while the new short 16th will be played downhill, to a raised green which sits above a new cascading stream system. The existing stream feature which use to front the 18th green has now been made into a much larger pond feature which will protect the new raised green. The water features are designed to serve both aesthetic and functional storage purposes.

The ultimate intention at Evian is to create a course with much more variety and choice.

Above: Hole 14

Design Influences from the Past

Since studying for a VQ with the European Institute of Golf Course Architects I have become familiar with the design work of a Philadelphian named Albert Warren Tillinghast. Known affectionately by his friends as ‘Tillie’, he is recognised by many as one of the most colourful and outlandish characters of the games’ history.

After his death in 1942, for more than 30 years Tillie became a forgotten man. It was not until 1973 when Frank Hannigan and his colleagues from the USGA realised that four of their ten tournaments in 1974 would be played on Tillinghast courses. His story would finally be told.

Albert Warren Tillinghast was born in Frankford, Philadelphia on May 7, 1874. His father founded and managed a very successful rubber company operating plants in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Albert grew up with little discipline and was largely left to his own devices, he never lasted long at any school he attended and spent much of his time playing a street version of rugby with local gangs.

After a few years playing cricket, Tillingast eventually fell in love with the game of golf. During the 1890’s he travelled to Scotland with his family. It was here that he met and received golf lessons from Old Tom Morris, he went on to become a very established player and featured in many of the early majors.

Above: Tillinghast in the undergrowth

Tillinghast returned to the US. He was married at the age of 20 and became a typical sporting gentleman of the ‘roaring twenties’; he was a heavy drinker, lavish spender, master talker, flashy dresser and talented pianist. His magnificent waxed moustache became his trademark.

In 1907 a family friend named Charles Worthington invited Tillinghast to lay out a course on the Delaware River at Shawnee. The course proved an instant success and although it was not hugely influential at the time, it was whilst working on this project that, at 32 years of age, he had found a career.

Tillinghast was part of what has become known as the Philadelphian School of design. In the years leading up until World War I a group of men from Pennsylvania dreamed of building first rate golf courses and went on to do so. The other primary members of this group were William Fownes, George Crump, Hugh Wilson, George Thomas and William Flynn. They often met and discussed course design. One of George Crump’s most famous holes, the 7th at Pine Valley, or Hell’s Half Acre as it is known, is often accredited to Tillinghast.

He went on to design some of America’s greatest golf courses including Winged Foot East and West, San Francisco Golf Club, Somerset Hills, Bethpage Black, Baltusrol and Quaker Ridge.

Above: Bobby Jones plays from greenside bunker on Baltusrol’s 17th hole in 1926

Tillinghast also wrote on the subject of course design extensively for Golf Illustrated, the American Golfer, the PGA of America and numerous other leading journals of his era. It is widely thought that many of his design principles formed the foundation for the development of the golf courses we see today.

In 1937, Tillinghast moved to Beverley Hills, California, where he opened an antique shop. He started off selling personal belongings that he and his wife had collected over the years. After a couple years trading it is said that a majority of the movie stars either knew him well or bought from him.

Albert Warren Tillinghast had a fatal heart attack on May 19, 1942. He was buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.

All though by no means a prolific designer, Tillinghast is regarded by many as the best of his era. The sheer number of national and international tournaments that have been held on Tillinghast courses is testament to the quality of his design work. Bethpage, Baltusrol and Winged Foot have all hosted recent major championships.

I am confident, whether they are aware of it or not, that every golf course architect operating today has been influenced, at some point, by the work of Albert Warren Tillinghast.

European Tour heading to EGD courses

We are very proud that three of the golf courses designed alongside 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie will be hosting upcoming tournaments on the European Tour.

The Maxx Royal course in Turkey set to host the 2013 Turkish Open
Turkey is one of the fastest developing golf nations in the world and the 78-man field tournament will be played from November 7-10, 2013, the week before the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai – the climax to the Race to Dubai. The Montgomerie Maxx Royal is set within 104 hectares of picturesque, mixed pine forest and sandy ridges, the feel of the natural environment has been maintained, thereby enhancing the particular characteristics of the golf course. The par 72 Montgomerie Maxx Royal measures 6486 metres.

http://www.maxxroyal.com/en/The-Montgomerie-Maxx-Royal

The 2013 Irish Open will be hosted by Carton House
Carton House, which has twice hosted the Irish Open, most recently in 2006 and the Seniors Open in 2010. The vast Kildare estate is also the home to the Golfing Union of Ireland and has two of the east coasts finest courses, The Montgomerie and The O’Meara. The Mark O’Meara designed classic parkland course may lull you with it’s beauty whilst the Colin Montgomerie course is an adventure from the 1st to the last hole and is proud to have hosted the worlds finest golfers at the 2005 and 2006 Irish Opens.

http://www.cartonhousegolf.com/

The Dutch in The Netherlands will host the KLM Open from 2016 to 2018
Opened in 2011 The Dutch is a private members Inland Links Golf Course set in the beautiful rural area on the outskirts of the Lingebos near Gorinchem. European Tour tournament director Miguel Vidaor commented,”The Dutch is an excellent layout with a very strong back nine, especially the finishing holes All which are very challenging. The greens offer a variety of pin positions a hole That can change from one day to the next. This makes the course very interesting to the players.”

http://www.thedutch.nl/

Sultan Course welcomes the world’s best golfers

European Golf Design’s 7,000-yard Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club introduces Woods, McIlroy, Westwood and Co to the layout that helped put Turkey’s Belek region on the golfing map

European Golf Design (EGD), the golf course design company of the European Tour and IMG, was an early pioneer of golf in Turkey when its Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club opened nearly 10 years ago…today it welcomes the world’s best, playing for $5.2million in the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final.

Threading its way through pine and eucalyptus, up and over sandy ridges and around clear water lakes, The 7,000 yard Sultan Course typifies why the Belek region of Turkey has become one of Europe’s fast-growing golfing playgrounds.

Boasting 14 golf courses, Turkey’s Mediterranean coast has already established itself as an award-winning international golf tourism hotspot, hosting the International Golf Travel Market in 2011 and with ambitious plans for more golf resorts.

Since the Ministry for Tourism designated the Belek region for development, due to its outstanding beauty and consequent appeal to golf tourists, EGD has been at the heart of golf course design in the region, and is responsible for three 18-hole layouts – The Sultan and Pasha Courses at Antalya Golf Club, plus The Montgomerie at Maxx Royal.

Jeremy Slessor, EGD Managing Director, said: “Turkey has made great strides as an emerging golf destination and it is rewarding for EGD to play such a significant role in its development and, once again, witness the world’s best players competing over an EGD design this week.”

The Turkish Airlines World Golf Final sees eight of the world’s finest tournament professionals (Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Justin Rose, Charl Schwartzel, Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson) play in this unique matchplay event, a first for Turkey, and it underlines the country’s growing domestic interest in the game.

Jeremy added: “Turkey has made huge strides in the 10 years that EGD has been designing golf courses in the region and golf is now a high profile sport in the country, a trend that is only going to accelerate in the future.”

In addition to its completed work in Belek, EGD is currently working on a project in association with former World Number One, Annika Sorenstam, at Olivion Golf Resort that will see the construction of an 18-hole golf course, nine-hole par 3 pitching and chipping course, as well as an extensive short game practice area. This will form part of an integrated resort to include a private residential community, five-star hotel, retail plaza and waterside village community.

Ahmet Agaoglu, President of the Turkish Golf Federation, added: “The European golfing community has begun to recognise Turkey as a popular resort for golf tourism and with the Turkish Airways World Golf Final taking place, the whole world will take a view of golf in Turkey.”