UK Architect Simon Gidman has recently completed a project to rebuild all 18 greens at Northenden GC in Manchester. Like all historical courses, the greens at Northenden were constructed using the local topsoil which, despite intensive sand topdressings and hollow tining, still performed poorly during the winter months. Early last year, Gidman was awarded the contract to reconstruct the greens, and also to assess the design of the course.
All the greens were reconstructed, and bunkers were either redesigned or the green surfaces made larger. All the greens were recontoured with a careful eye both on the balance between regular pin positions and competition pin positions.
Agronomist George Shiels advised on the works, which were carried out by contractor John Greasley. The existing irrigation system was completely renovated by LS Systems.
"From an architectural point of view the contract has been interesting, not only in working with a progressive management team, but also in having to curb my own instincts," said Gidman. "The course relies on many wonderful trees as a backdrop to the greens, and the bunkers, while carefully located, are not intricately shaped in the modern manner.
It was important to me that while the club had asked us to redesign all the greens and some of the bunkers, we did not leave any obvious signs that a new designer had been at work. In many ways I wanted to leave the course with the same style of design and bunkering that previously existed but with better specified and designed greens."More than 40 new members have joined the club since reopening.