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).
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.
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.
Nothing quite explains the transformative process of golf course design as well as a before and after photograph. It was looking at such images in the World Atlas of Golf as a 10 year-old that first sparked my interest in golf architecture.
At the ‘before’ stage we concoct the ‘after’ image in our minds eye and then set about the task of making this mental image a physical reality.
Here are a selection of my favourites from the projects I’ve worked on for EGD. It would take more than a thousand words to do justice to the processes, personalities and pitfalls encountered to bring each to fruition, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Figure 1: The future 12th hole at Casa Serena, Czech Republic on a cold, wet day in November 2004. My first day of work for EGD.
Figure 2: The same view in September 2008.
Figure 3: From atop a high bluff looking out over the Bahraini desert in July 2006.
Figure 4: Less than 3 years later and the same scene has become the 3rd (right) and 8th (left) holes of the Royal Golf Club, part of the huge Riffa Views development. Photo taken in 2009.
Figure 5: Back in 2013 the view from Tee 15 of Plage des Nations looked like this, with the most enormous pile of foundation spoil sitting on top of the fairway.
Figure 6: In February 2016 it looks like this. The large hill to the right is formed in 9 metres of cut! The course is still growing in.
Figure 7: November 2012 and the view down the future 16th hole at JCB Woodseat Hall.
Figure 8: October 2015. More of a ‘during’ than an ‘after’ but the basic shape of the hole is formed.
My name is Kyle Taggart and I joined the EGD team in July ’14 as construction supervisor at the Dubai Hills Estate golf and residential project in the United Arab Emirates. For the previous 20+ years I have worked in the golf and turf industry in varying capacities, across five different continents and the most extreme climatic opposites conceivable. My passion for the game and hands on experience, teamed with a turfgrass management diploma has led me down this unique career path focused on delivering high quality golf experiences.
Working in the Middle East region isn’t for the faint of heart. Being positioned along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf on the Arabian Peninsula, the weather conditions go from warm to hot to borderline inhumane. I have personally experienced temperatures in the high 50’s, then magnified by stifling humidity. With more than 200 nationalities co-existing in Dubai there is constant language, religious and cultural differences, but in my opinion, this just adds to the allure of the UAE. Security, tolerance, advanced infrastructure and (of course) tax-free income are the main factors attracting the majority of the approximately 7.8 million expats, which equate to more than 85% of the country’s total population.
This is my second ‘tour of duty’ in Dubai, the first being employed in a contractors’ role during construction of Jumeirah Golf Estates. That was a turbulent ride as we witnessed the peaks and valleys of the volatile real estate market before, during and after the global financial collapse in 2008-2009. JGE has hosted the year end DP World Tour Championship since ’09 and there is definitely a sense of achievement to witness the Earth Course manicured in all her glory, elevating the design intent to its fullest. Watching some of the games’ best battle it out in the EPGA’s richest event is a fantastic way to wind up the year.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have travelled and lived in such a plethora of countries and cultures. You have to accept repeated temporary living arrangements in this profession but I am incredibly fortunate to have seen so much thus far. My global experiences have brought copious amounts of learning along the journey and I wouldn’t trade that for a 9-5, suit and tie job. While working abroad in the golf construction industry can be a love-hate relationship at times, I do not anticipate losing the passion any time soon.
Originally from Powell River, BC, Canada & currently living in ‘The Sandpit’
On the lush slopes of Mt Liamuga on north of the island of St Kitts sits Irie Fields, one of EGD’s newest Golf Courses. On first look it may not seem too dissimilar to many of our other projects but this pioneering destination is more than a little different. From the start the development team had the intention to create a world class golf resort but the overriding theme has always been to create a golf course that would be truly sustainable that, importantly, would provide a benefit to the local community. This thinking was not just limited to the design and construction of the golf course but also to the ongoing management and consequently Irie Fields is now one of the first completely organically managed warm season golf courses anywhere. The result of all this hard work is that Irie Fields has just become the first in the World to attain GEO Certified – Development Status helping to set new standards for golf course development.
Construction work on the golf course was completed in 2015 and the course is set to open in mid-2016.
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.