Team Work – Monty, McKenzie & McMurray prove the value

With the Wales Open only six weeks away, and the Ryder Cup a little less than five months after that, the finishing touches have now being made to the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor Resort.

Last week some of the staff here at European Golf Design had the opportunity to visit Celtic Manor and see first hand what has been going on.

Over the winter Ross has been working closely with Jim McKenzie and his staff as the final few tweaks were made to some of the bunkers on the original holes to ensure that their style was consistent with those on the new holes. One of the most important aspects for us during the development of the Twenty Ten Course has been to ensure that there is a seamless progression between the nine new holes and the nine holes retained from the previous course. At the outset we were determined to make the bunkers on the new holes deeper and more penal with rolling grass faces blending into the flashed up sand to improve the visual aesthetics. As a result all the bunkers on the old holes have been remodelled in the same style by Jim’s team. Many have also been repositioned to improve their strategic value or reshaped to resolve other maintenance issues.

European Ryder Cup Team Captain Colin Montgomerie has also been involved. Following a course inspection last autumn Colin suggested some improvements to the par 5 11th hole and subsequently Ross and Jim have coordinated some major revisions to the green surrounds. The bunkers have been made more penal and the entrance into the green tightened. In addition a drop off on the left side of the green has been carved out which will kick any ball missing the target on that side down and away from the putting surface, towards the water. As a consequence this relatively short par 5 will now have a couple of much tougher pin positions and the approach to the green will need a great deal more thought.

Following other comments from Colin and feedback following the last Wales Open the opportunity has also been taken to adjust some fairway and rough outlines around the course to enhance the playing strategy.

With the completion of the Ryder Cup practice area and the opening of the bridge across the River Usk which will link it to the golf course, as well as the installation of numerous new tarmac roads and pathways to facilitate easier access for spectators and vehicles, the last 12 months have been another hugely busy period at Celtic Manor Resort. The Wales Open which starts on June 3rd will be a great opportunity for players and spectators alike to see what’s in store before the big event in October.

Looking forward to 2010

In our last blog we all looked back at our personal highlights of 2009. But for the first blog of the New Year, and as the snow piles up outside, I thought I’d sit back with a warming ‘Chocolat chaud’ and look forward to what 2010 has in store.

And for myself it looks like another busy year with three new courses up and running by the autumn. The first, Rowallan Castle Golf Course in Scotland, had a soft opening last year but should be fully operational this summer. It’s a Colin Montgomerie signature course which winds its way through a historic landscape and past two castles. There are some great views to, across the Clyde estuary to Arran.

Moving to Southern Europe, The Dunes Course at Navarino Dunes Resort in Greece will open for play this spring. Designed in association with Bernhard Langer the golf course is part of a major new, beachside luxury hotel resort in Messinia in the southwest Peloponnese. It is a particularly exciting project as it represents the first of a number of high-end developments in the region which will open under the Costa Navarino umbrella.

The third course I’ll be looking forward to seeing being played this year is the Colin Montgomerie Course at The Dutch, in Holland. 11 holes were completed last year and were growing in strongly by the end of the season. In the spring we’ll be putting the finishing touches to the remaining holes with a view to playing some golf in the late autumn.

And talking of the autumn. October 1st will see the first shots struck in anger at the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor Resort, the biennial match between the top golfers in Europe and the US. This will be the 38th time the matches have been played but, excitingly for us, the 1st time on a golf course created by European Golf Design. The event marks 10 years of work for us and we’ll be looking forward to it with a mixture of excitement and trepidation! You never know we might even get a European victory. Now there’s something to warm the cockles of your heart on a cold day in January!

Highlight of the Year

2009 is nearly over. New contracts have been signed for courses in Egypt, Holland, Russia, Portugal and Cyprus. Construction is underway in Russia and Holland, and courses completed in Scotland, Greece and Bulgaria. New websites designed for Paul Casey and Colin Montgomerie’s Foundation. Looking back on 2009 here are our own individual highlights:

Jeremy – Can’t limit myself to one highlight of the year; Working at EGD was a highlight. We’ve a great group of people. Each is talented for their respective area of responsibility. Being part of that experience, competency and professionalism is a real pleasure.
Seeing great courses designed by Ross, Stan, Rob, Gary and Dave was a real treat. I’m the lucky one – I get to see what everyone is doing. It’s a fantastically impressive body of work.

Speaking at a number of conferences (US, Denmark, UK, Spain and Amsterdam) this year was very interesting, if only to gauge how we’re doing compared to others in the industry. We’re doing well by comparison.

Stan – Returning to Sporting Club Berlin after several years and catching up with old friends.

Ross – Two things stand out and both from courses we’re working on with Colin Montgomerie. Firstly, working with the shapers at The Dutch trying to create a unique character for the golf course, and secondly the opening for play of Rowallan Castle Golf Club in Scotland.

Shara – Conquering my fear of heights – riding the London Eye at the Christmas Party.

Gary – Finally getting to play on the Old Course at St Andrews and going out in level par – just don’t ask about the back 9!

Matt – 2009 has been a very enjoyable year. Working with our Parent Companies I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with not only some of the World’s best golfers working on player websites but also to have produced tournament graphics for some of the World’s top golfing events. A particular highlight has been the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation website and related social media. Being part of Colin Montgomerie’s team helping raising money for those affected by cancer has been a very rewarding experience.

Dave – My highlight has to be the site trips to our project at Zavidovo. We have been very fortunate to have two of the very best shapers building the golf course, and it has been a pleasure and education watching, learning and working with them.

Alex – Seeing a picture one of my plans for Palm City on a sign in Denmark, the size of a house.

Robin – Standing on the proposed 2nd tee of our new project site near Madrid. Having sketched out a routing on the topographic map I thought this hole might turn out quite well when I went to the site to check it out for the first time. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how spectacular this hole could turn out. I got a huge adrenaline rush standing here thinking this could become one of the World’s great par 5’s. Reminded me why I love this career so much.

Sarah – Attending the KPMG Golf Business Forum at Celtic Manor and sharing a mini bus with Arnold Palmer.


Thrill seekers Dave Sampson and Gary Johnston during the EGD Christmas Party

Riffa Views awarded 'Best Golf Real Estate Development'

Riffa Views, in Bahrain has won a 5-star Award for ‘Best Golf Real Estate Development’ at the prestigious CNBC Arabian Property Awards 2009. The award highlights Riffa Views as a leading golf and residential development in a tough economic climate and has helped elevate Bahrain as a residential destination. Since opening this year, the course has hosted a number of prominent tournaments including the Gulf Air International Pro-Captain Challenge and the Middle Eastern Final of the Faldo Series.

The luxury Riffa Views development has over 900 villas built around the acclaimed Montgomerie Course, designed by Colin Montgomerie in association with Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design. Hiseman commented, “We were delighted to hear that Riffa Views has won this prestigious award and feel it is wholly justified for the very high standard of the whole Riffa Views development. The developer was very accommodating in providing us with the space and investment necessary to provide a world class golf course and we expect this to be just the tip of the iceberg with the plaudits that Riffa Views will receive. It’s a great place to live and a fun golf course to play”.

Colin Montgomerie added “The course has all the characteristics to make it one of the top courses in the Middle East. Of all the region’s desert courses that profess to offer a links type experience, we believe that Riffa Views is clearly the most authentic. It is a very classy development and a special layout to play. I’m very proud to have my name attached to it.”


The impressive Montgomerie Golf Course at Riffa Views

The Sun is Shining at Rowallan Castle

Just back from Rowallan Castle in Scotland where we are putting the finishing touches to a Colin Montgomerie golf course. The weather was glorious and when the sun is shining there will be no better place for a round of golf. The setting is wonderful – the course plays around two of the finest castles in Scotland (the ‘old’ castle built in the 13th century and the ‘new’ in the 19th). There are streams and stone bridges and superb views to the Firth of Clyde and Arran.

Every hole has its own distinct character but I think, as a group, the par 3’s particularly stand out. Having said that my personal favorites are probably the two short par 4’s, the 7th and the 12th. Both are between 280m and 320m but getting a birdie on either will be a real achievement and pars will probably be few and far between!

The course will be open for limited play later this month.

  • The 3rd hole at Rowallan
  • The 9th hole at Rowallan
  • The 18th hole at Rowallan

Colin Montgomerie Drops in for a Design Meeting.

Fresh from playing in his 500th European Tour event the week before last, Colin Montgomerie came into the office earlier in the week for a design session for the projects we’re working on with him in Denmark and Egypt. Having discussed the elements of detailed design for the former project, we then went through the progress to date on the initial master planning for the Egypt site.

As well as going through these two projects, we also spent some time talking about our work on the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor, venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup, which Colin visited recently in his capacity as European Team Captain. Colin said he was very impressed with the way the course is maturing, particularly the new holes, and gave special mention to the viewing areas that have been created over the last four holes that will allow the vast majority of the 40,000+ crowd to watch golf over the closing stretch, as well as seeing up to twelve of the other holes during the early stages of play.

Following that, Monty was interviewed by two writers from Bad Halo Golf (www.badhalogolf.com) with whom we are collaborating on a new book to be published later in the summer on golf course design.

  • Colin Montgomerie and designer Robin Hiseman talk about the design of the new Palm City Family & Golf Resort in Denmark.