Belgian architect Dimitri van Hauwaert has been responsible for his country’s first golf course with synthetic greens. The six hole course at Golfschool Drongen in Gent, which uses synthetic tees, greens and surrounds supplied by OnlyGOLF, opened recently.
“The driving range at Drongen was bought out two years ago, and the new owner decided he wanted to build a six hole academy course on an adjacent four hectare parcel of land,” van Hauwaert, of Diamond Golf Architects, told GCA. “We have used the parcel to build six par three holes, but once or twice a month, the course is changed to one par three and two par fours, which new golfers play in order to get the licence necessary to play golf in Belgium.”
Drongen is the first course in Belgium to use synthetic turf on shaped greens and surrounds. “The initial cost is significant higher, but the maintenance is much cheaper,” said van Hauwaert. “After seven years, the total costs on this project will be equal, and afterwards the owner will be saving money. There is still maintenance to be done – synthetic greens require regular brushing to loosen the fibres, and to loosen the sand so the green doesn’t get too hard. And once or twice a year, they need to be sprayed to control weeds. You can change the speed of the greens by brushing, rolling or adding/removing sand.”
“I was very impressed you could get so much spin on the ball,” he added. “I was a little sceptical about the synthetic turf at first, but now I see the grass growing around the synthetic areas I must admit that it is starting to look very nice. When the roughs reach maturity, the fescues will give the course a nice definition.”