Golf course architect Jonathan Gaunt has designed three new holes at Handsworth Golf Club in Birmingham, England, to replace those lost because of the construction of an embankment to help manage risks associated with flooding of the River Tame.
The UK’s Environment Agency proposed an embankment at Handsworth as part of a flood risk management scheme, to protect the surrounding area of Perry Barr and Witton, including 1,400 properties.
“The new flood embankment has been designed by the Environment Agency’s engineers to protect households in the River Tame floodplain, so it’s an important structure on a much wider scale than just the golf course,” said Gaunt. “The course has provided the Environment Agency with an opportunity, because of the land it owns and the availability of adjacent land owned by Birmingham Council to be used to replace the three holes lost as part of the development.”
The embankment extends more than 400 metres along the course’s previous par-four twelfth fairway. As such, the entire hole is being moved, with a knock-on effect on the previous par-three eleventh and par-four thirteenth. Two of the new holes will be located in a ﬁeld adjacent to the lost holes.
The Environment Agency is covering the cost of the project, providing like-for-like replacement of any facilities lost because of the development.
“Tree clearance started in January 2018 and then, following an extremely wet few months on site, construction work progressed in earnest from March and has been progressing well since then,” said Gaunt. “However, this summer has been exceptionally dry, in contrast with the wet spring. Consequently, our seeding and turfing deadlines have been put back until late August/early September.
“The greens will be turfed using a high bent-grass/fescue mix from Lindum Turf, and all tees, fairway and approaches will be hydroseeded. This should ensure swift and excellent establishment of all main playing areas and enable the new holes to be playable from late Spring/early Summer 2019.”
Gaunt Golf Design is working as sub-consultant to Cornerstone Golf, who are employed by Jacobs Engineers, who are directly employed by the Environment Agency. The golf course contractor, John Greasley, is employed as sub-contractor to Jackson Hyder Civil Engineering Contractors, also working directly for the Environment Agency.
“Hence, there is quite a process to be followed to get the project implemented and decisions made in order to meet tight construction schedules,” said Gaunt. “Having said this, we attend regular meetings on site and the communication between the various disciplines has worked out fine, with, most importantly, Handsworth getting what they were expecting, golf course-wise, from the outset.
“I would suggest that the Environment Agency considers similar infrastructure projects in the future on other golf courses near major rivers or reservoirs, especially where the finished result ends up being as high quality as we’re implementing at Handsworth Golf Club.”