This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.
Seeding work is under way at a new public golf course adjacent to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France.
The €20 million Golf International de Roissy-en-France project involves the construction of an 18-hole course and a six-hole short course, both designed by Michel Niedbala of Golf Optimum, a clubhouse and a maintenance facility.
Work on the 18-hole course began in June 2018. “At this stage of construction, eleven holes and the driving range have been built,” said Niedbala. “Five of these holes and the driving range have been seeded, with the next three holes to be seeded before the end of April.
“We also have three holes in rough/fine shaping, and four others that are in the general earthmoving process,” said Niedbala. “The project is really interesting as it is the biggest public investment in golf in Europe.” Of the 90 hectares of available land for the project, 21 hectares have been designated as sensitive archaeological areas. “Those areas are protected,” said Niedbala. “There will be no excavation of this existing ground. For the building of the golf course contours, we are using at least one metre high of fill material to re-cover the areas, and then we’ll build over the golf course features.”
Niedbala said: “The insertion of the golf course on the site relies firstly on its proximity to the land, not only from the topographical point of view, but also by adding – more intimately – the layout and shapes into the hydro-geological characteristics, as well as in the numerous and different features of the landscape, where all the wealth of Mother Nature is nestled. The maintenance of the new course must remain constantly in the architect’s vision.
“The balance between the golf course and the protection of nature is the target to reach when you are designing a golf course – this approach will definitely create its originality. This balance is the keystone in the process of developing a golf course, from its concept, through its construction phase and ending up with its maintenance, which should be completely respectful of the environment.
“Today it is undeniable that the maintenance must be virtuous, by removing the negative impacts on the environment, by making its implementation easier, which will generate considerable financial economies by the reduction of an intensive use of machines due to a too difficult layout which generates additional financial expenditure and forms of pollution: the more machines used, the more fuel consumption, the more waste, the more carbon dioxide emissions, the more tired the staff feel, etc.
“Despite these challenges, a well-thought out project, which has been looked at from every angle, will increase its credibility with regard to the authorities and the population. On a successfully completed project, the ecology of the site and the ecology of golf fit on the same valuable scale. The solutions proposed by the golf project must preserve biodiversity, the landscape and cultural and historical heritage in the long term.”
Niedbala believes that communication and collaboration are key to the success of any project.
“The success of a sustainable development depends considerably on the understanding by the actors involved in the construction, the environmental and golf issues of the project, as well as the appropriate implementation in the framework of the building site of management procedures and of the protection of the environment,” said Niedbala.
“Another aspect not to be neglected is the communication, which does not stop on the doorstep of different protagonists of the project; a positive collaboration must be reflected between all of the organisations and associations concerned with the environment. This communication must not be limited only to simply informing but it must go beyond this congruent form of communication in only one direction by installing a real voluntary step towards the outside world to favour regular contacts, discussions and common research initiatives.”
Agostino Gaude of Tee-2-Green proposed grass solutions for all surfaces to Niedbala and the project agronomists. “They have been very open to consider the data and the documentation I supplied in support of my proposal,” said Gaude. “There was a total agreement on the way to proceed.” An irrigation system from Toro has been installed.
Course construction is expected to finish by October 2019, and the whole project is scheduled to be completed by June 2020.