• Latest News from European Golf Design

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

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

Press Release – Chislehurst Golf Club and European Golf Design

European Golf Design (‘EGD’), the golf course design company of The European Tour, has been appointed by Chislehurst Golf Club to undertake a full review of its historic golf course and make recommendations on short, medium and long term enhancements.

Located in Kent, just to the south-east of London, the Club was established in 1894 as a nine hole layout which was subsequently expanded to 18 holes early in the following decade. There is evidence as to the involvement of James Braid in both the expansion and subsequent improvement to bunkers in the years immediately prior to the First World War. Although short by modern standards at 5100 yards and playing to a par of 66, the course is anything but a pushover, demanding accuracy and precision over brute strength. However, some of the hazards around the course have become less strategically relevant over the years and part of the design brief is to thoroughly investigate the strategy presented to players and, in relation to bunkering, to return them to the styles and aesthetics experienced over a century ago by reference to the Club’s archives of plans and photographs.

David MacLaren, the Chief Executive Officer of Chislehurst Golf Club, said “This is a progressive club with a very active golf and social membership. Those who know the course love it – those that visit us soon come to love the course too. It has visual interest, it has challenge, it has beauty. Working with European Golf Design to develop a five to ten year programme of improvements allows the Club to move forward positively, but also to reclaim our heritage by re-establishing the original styling which has inevitably been lost in parts over the last one hundred years or so.”

“Working with a Club and on a course with a relationship to Braid is a great honour and privilege,” said Dave Sampson, who will be leading the project on behalf of EGD, “and we are eager to explore all possibilities to restore as much of the original aesthetics and challenge as we can, while keeping the course playable for as many golfers as possible.”

Work on the initial planning began in March and is expected to take two to three months, following which more detailed plans will be prepared, alongside work schedules to fit improvements within the Club’s busy playing and competition schedule.

For more information, please contact Jeremy Slessor, Managing Director at European Golf Design (jslessor@egd.com) or David MacLaren, Chief Executive Officer of Chislehurst Golf Club (davidmaclaren@chislehurstgolfclub.co.uk)

EUROPEAN GOLF DESIGN LIMITED ANNOUNCES NEW DIRECTION

European Golf Design Limited (EGD) is poised for a new direction following a change in the ownership structure of the renowned golf course design company.

A two-man syndicate comprising European Tour Chief Operating Officer Keith Waters and businessman Robert Birmingham has acquired 50% of EGD from International Management Group (IMG), who established the company together with the European Tour as a joint venture in 1992.

The syndicate and the European Tour will now work together to further develop EGD to design new courses and redesign existing member and resort courses, but particularly to host tournaments and The Ryder Cup.

The 2010 Course at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales was designed by EGD to specifically host The Ryder Cup 11 years ago, while another of its projects, the new 18-hole stadium course at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club on the outskirts of Rome, will play host to the biennial contest between Europe and the United States in September 2023.

For almost three decades, EGD has been responsible for some of the best courses in Europe, with three of its designs – The Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya, The Montgomerie at Carton House GC and The Faldo Berlin at A-Rosa Resort – having been voted best new courses in Europe, while Dubai Hills in the UAE was named as ‘The World’s Best New Course’ in 2019.

Keith Waters, who will continue in his role as Chief Operating Officer of the European Tour, said: “In partnership with the European Tour we plan to grow EGD working with the existing team led by Jeremy Slessor, who I am delighted to say will continue as Managing Director. We plan to design more courses for regular and tournament play and work with Tour players who have the desire and opportunity to design golf courses themselves.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour said: “Keith’s golfing knowledge and Robert’s business acumen will undoubtedly bring a new perspective and energy to EGD and they are aligned with our rationalisation of the Group businesses. We look forward to seeing what this new partnership can deliver.”

Rupert Hampel, Executive Vice President at IMG, said: “As we concentrate on enhancing and diversifying our global events business, now is the right time for us to support the future growth of EGD through this change of structure. We are delighted to see Keith and Robert take on this responsibility and wish them all the best in the future.”

IMG’s golf course services team will continue to work closely with EGD on mutually beneficial opportunities.

-ends-

Dubai Creek Golf & Country Club

Golf is Booming.

Golf has enjoyed a significant boost over the summer months between lockdowns. Tee time bookings were high and membership sales soared for many clubs. After several years of declining interest, as soon as the opportunity to play was taken away, paradoxically that’s what many wanted to do. The future is bright. Or is it?

Disclaimer: I am not a golf club Secretary, General Manager, Chief Executive or Director of Golf, but I see many clubs in the course of my professional life, and I am a golfer (second disclaimer – I am not a member of a golf club).

When courses have been open this summer, they have been busy – as busy as they’ve been for years (maybe ever?). Members are playing more golf than before; golfers who’ve not played in years are returning to the game in droves. Demand is high…for now. But, once society slowly starts to return to normal, what’s to stop those old demands on time and attention returning, meaning those new-found enthusiasts lose their new-found enthusiasm? What caused these people to walk away from the game in the first place and what has to change to stop them walking away again (only this time they will be gone for good)? I see lots of busy courses; I see lots of optimism based around tee times currently being full. I see very little in the way of addressing, or eliminating, the core issues that challenged golf in the past and will continue to do so in the future. The issues golf had before the pandemic are still there and will be there long after the pandemic is over, unless we do something about it now.

Who is asking the questions as to why many golfers have come back to the sport? And, more importantly, who is asking what needs to happen to keep them involved in the long term? These are fundamental questions, and ones we should all be asking.

As the saying goes: ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result’.

Jeremy.

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

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.

 

Dylan Emms Wins 3 Hole Design Competition

The European Tour’s 3 Hole Design competition has been won by Dylan Emms after the 11 year old’s final three hole submission was judged the best of more than 500 entries by European Golf Design, the European Tour’s golf course design company.

The challenge was to design three holes on an actual site plan being worked on by European Golf Design, to conjure up a dramatic stretch of three strategic and creative golf holes, where the total par for these three holes must be 11 or more. The routing could start from any one of three greens already on the plan, with the 18th finishing in front of the clubhouse.

Various different judging criteria were used. Had the design matched the brief, how well did the scheme fit within the landscape, did it continue the design style outlined on other holes and where the 18th green was located, were all important elements, as were golf strategy, scale and playability.

Dylan, who plays off a handicap of 28 at Styal Golf Club in Cheshire, England, designed the closing stretch featuring a risk-reward par 5, a tough par three and challenging final hole to a three-tiered green.

“I’m very passionate about designing courses and this was a great opportunity to show everybody what I could do,” explained Dylan.

“There were three points we could start from so I did one design from each and then chose the best route and worked on that design. I like holes that are very challenging but still give an opportunity for a good score.

“The 16th is a risk and reward par five, the 17th a par three with trouble up around the green and the 18th climbs up the hill to a dramatic three-tier green.”

The Winning Design

Dylan has been playing since the age of five, already has two holes-in-one to his name and regularly sketches and designs golf holes when he is not playing. Among the submissions he beat was one from his own Dad!

The 3 Hole design competition was supported by European Tour Destinations with the winning prize a game at a European Tour Destination of his choice. While he earned the bragging rights over his Dad on the design, he has agreed to take him to play the iconic Le Golf National in France, host venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup.

“I watched the Ryder Cup on TV and really liked the tough finishing holes with all the water and island greens so it will be great to play there,” said Dylan.

The competition brief was to design a ‘final three hole stretch’, using any one of the three green locations for the 15th green and finishing in front of a clubhouse located on the eastern side of the site. The three holes needed to present an exciting and dramatic conclusion to a tournament course but while the holes needed to challenge the best players they also needed to be playable for the average golfer.

Jeremy Slessor, European Golf Design’s Managing Director commented: “We were blown away by the number of entries and the quality. Many entrants clearly put a huge amount of time and effort into their submissions and I want to thank everyone who took part. I would particularly like to highlight the submissions we received from Rob McLean, Christopher Jordan, Trevor Hansen and Emmet O’Sullivan, all of whom clearly put in a massive effort. It’s been an incredibly tough task to select a winner.”

The judging panel finally agreed on a top three of Rob McLean, Dylan Emms and David Minogue and it was interesting that all three submissions treated the routing and strategy of their golf holes in a similar way.

Jeremy continued: “It was a real toss-up between these final three but, in the end, we felt there was one person who just stood out a little more when we took all the factors into consideration. I am delighted to say that our winner is Dylan Emms. What marks Dylan out is that he is only 11 years old. We were going through the entries and Dylan’s kept going through to the next round and we were thinking, this guy’s so young but he’s here competing against all these other entries, even some from experienced golf course designers. We felt we needed to keep that in mind when he reached the top three and I hope everyone is as impressed as we were with his design submission”.

“Our congratulations go to our three finalists, but especially to Dylan. I know from the reaction we received just how many people have enjoyed having the chance to create their own golf hole designs and hopefully we can do it again sometime soon.”