A recent site visit by GCA revealed good progress on the construction of St Andrews' new Course Number 7. Despite heavy rain the day before our visit causing a slight delay in seeding certain areas of the course, it was easy to see a tremendous golf course in the making.
Within a few weeks of GCA's visit, the St Andrews Links Trust announced that seeding of tees, fairways and greens had been completed. The site, previously farmland that sloped down from its highest point, about 70 metres above sea level to the 20 metre high clifftops, has been shaped into dramatic, rolling features.With several holes playing along the cliffs, including the dramatic, oceancarry par three 17th, golfers will have spectacular views of St Andrews from the new course.
Project architect Paul Kimber, DMK Design's man on site during the construction period, says he has received many comparisons during the construction period. Cypress Point is an obvious reference, because of the clifftop holes, but the work is reminiscent of many great links. A huge swale in front of one green reminded this writer of the sixth hole at Machrihanish, for example.
Kimber is coy on the amount of earth moved to shape the course, but it is clearly substantial. Both he and David Kidd are at pains to stress that this is not a links course, since the soils are fairly heavy clay and 'rotten rock', but the shaping is clearly inspired by links landforms, and the intention is for the course to play firm and bouncy. If this can be achieved, and the significant fall across the site should aid drainage even if the soils are not ideal, then the course will clearly challenge the best of Britain's recent designs.
"The greens, tees and approaches have done very well and are maturing nicely with a good blend of desirable grass species, such as fescues and bents," said Kimber. "The fairways and semi-roughs are a little slow in some areas because of the dry weather but these will pick up during September and October. Overseeding work on the course has now begun which will help to thicken the grass we have and encourage more growth where needed." Rough areas will be finished during the winter, and grow-in will occupy the whole of 2007, during which time the clubhouse will also be built. Set close to the shore, overlooking the headland which houses the double green for the ninth and eighteenth holes, this also promises impressive views, at least when the Scottish weather cooperates.