Grassing is almost complete on eighteen holes of a new 27-hole layout created by Nicklaus Design for Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club in Auckland, New Zealand.
The new club is a result of the 2017 merger of the adjacent Royal Auckland and The Grange clubs, each of which had an 18-hole course and limited practice facilities.
“The courses were separated by an estuary and there was no physical link between the two. A whole brand-new master plan was put together rerouting both courses and moving the clubhouse and maintenance facilities,” said Chris Cochran, senior design associate at Nicklaus Design. “The new club will be 27 holes, each nine being of equal calibre, with world-class practice facilities.
“Land on the sides of both properties has been sold off to finance the construction of the new course. A new clubhouse will be built on the estuary that separates the two properties and two bridges have been built to connect the two sites.”
The first phase of the project began in September 2017, with golf course contractor Puddicombe Golf constructing holes on the Grange property.
Work is now in its second year and grassing of the first eighteen holes is expected to be completed soon, with a view to being open for play in spring 2020.
“We are working mostly on the old Grange site now, which is a lovely property with big cypress and pine trees and a series of deep gullies that run through the property,” said Cochran. “The thirteen-and-a-half holes on that side of the property use the gullies as lateral and cross hazards. The four-and-a-half holes on the Middlemore [Royal Auckland] property now play along or over the estuary.
“In the past, the estuary was never used on the golf course and was screened off with vegetation. The vegetation was cleared and now there are fantastic long views to and from each property that were not there before.”
“There are countless people who have been a big help on the project. General manager Rob Selley, who was the GM at the Australian Golf Club when we renovated it several years ago, is now at RAGGC. His experience has been very helpful. Paul Garvie, who I have worked with all around the world since 1997, is the project manager and has done a great job putting a team together to build the golf course.
“Grassing is coming along nicely, since the sprigging of the fairways is a much more painstaking task than what we experience in the USA, and I personally would be thrilled if we were sprigged out by March next year.”
The third nine and practice facilities will be built in 2019 and are expected to open in summer 2021.