Plans finalised for series of new holes at Brighton Lakes Golf Club


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    The site of what will become the course’s sixth hole

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    The bunkering on the course’s final hole

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    The approach to the reworked 18th hole

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    The plans for the new seven holes

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Plans for a series of new holes at Brighton Lakes Recreation & Golf Club in Moorebank, Australia, have been finalised by a team from Harrison Golf.

Seven new holes will be created on land south of a freeway which borders the existing course. These holes will be built on a flood plain beside the Georges River, which also borders the club.

A further three new holes will be created on the existing course. Slight changes to current holes will also be carried out at the club, which recently changed its name from New Brighton Golf Club to Brighton Lakes Recreation & Golf Club.

“My own involvement with New Brighton dates back to 1981 when I was working by myself and developed about nine new holes – mostly in the flood plain – as part of New Brighton’s upgrading programme, which followed from the new freeway knocking out previous holes,” said architect Bob Harrison.

A few years ago, the club was ‘doing it tough financially’ according to Harrison. Half of the Brighton Lakes course was on flood-prone land and the other half on rolling terrain above the flood plain. However, a developer was interested in acquiring some of the land the club owned.

“The club has done a deal with one of Australia’s prominent residential developers, Mirvac, under which all of the above flood plain land has been cleared and is being developed as a housing estate,” Harrison told GCA. “This has enabled the club to build a monstrous new clubhouse, and will also enable the seven holes south of the freeway to be constructed.”

Harrison will oversee all elements of the upcoming project, including the shaping, irrigation, greens, tees, bunkers, paths and grassing. This will follow on from the initial clearing of the site and the importing of subgrade material.

The plans for the upcoming project began to take shape in 2012, with the club selecting Harrison to return to Brighton Lakes to lead the work.

“There are actually ten new holes in the proposed construction programme because the new holes to the south of the freeway have to then connect to the majority of the holes to the north in order to make a workable 18 with a new clubhouse location,” Harrison said.

Tree clearing on the site of the new holes is now underway.

“This is being done in stages to make sure we don’t remove any vegetation that is so attractive it would warrant tinkering with the detail design in order to preserve it,” Harrison explained. “The clearing is also being done early because the levels of playing surfaces will have to be raised to account for any flooding. This operation can’t be done by cutting and filling, partly because we have very strict constraints on how much of the Australian bush can be cleared, and partly because the ground has acid sulfate potential. This means that it is both a difficult and environmentally-dangerous proposition to be excavating large water bodies in order to create playing areas. For this reason, the subgrade material is being brought in from off the site, and the timing of this is a little unpredictable as it has to come from reasonably nearby construction sites.”

Harrison and his team are having to adhere to very strict rules around what they can do on the flood plains.

“We are required, for example, to maintain both flood storage capacity and flood ‘passage’, or the movement of the flood water,” Harrison explained. “To achieve this, we have to draw proposed half-metre design contours over the entire proposed golf course site so that we can demonstrate by computer modelling that the proposed design complies with these requirements. It’s a very demanding process to, on the one hand, prescribe attractive and sensible shape and, on the other hand, achieve the required volumetric objective.”

Harrison explains that the flood plain forest on which the holes will be developed is quite dense. This, he believes, will provide the holes with a ‘nice feeling of isolation because the cleared corridors are mainly well-separated.’

“We will then keep the shape of the fairways low and soft, because they would look and feel out of place if they were more extreme – apart from breaking the rules related to flood,” he said. “To fit in to this wilderness landscape, the bunkers will have rugged edges and the sand will have an earthy colour. On the one hand we don’t want a pristine finish in a very non-pristine environment, and on the other hand there would never be any point to having a pristine appearance when the bunkers will occasionally be flooded with slightly muddy water.”

Narrow areas of wetland will also be developed, which will play an important role in the strategy of these new holes.

“On one of the short par fours, the closer you drive to the wetland along the left the better the angle of approach along the length of the green, which will be bunkered along the right side,” said Harrison. “The par five seventh hole doglegs to the left, and drives placed to the left of the fairway close to the wetland will enable good players to make a choice of going for the green across an extended wetland or laying up short to the right. This is the sort of theme that continues through the design objectives of the new holes.”

Harrison added that recent elements of the project to have reached completion include a new 18th hole, and extensive modifications to the first and 17th holes. The construction work on the new holes is set to commence this May.