Spogárd & VanderVaart completes renovation and new hole at County Louth

Spogárd & VanderVaart completes renovation and new hole at County Louth
By Sean Dudley

Golf design firm Spogárd & VanderVaart has completed a renovation and the build of one new hole at the County Louth Golf Club in Ireland.

The firm, which has offices in Denmark and the Netherlands, has been advising the club since the summer of 2012 with regards to solving a number of playability issues and aesthetic qualities of the course.

Architect Philip Spogárd was behind the design work and oversaw the construction. He was assisted by fellow European Institute of Golf Course Architects member and County Louth Golf Club member Ronan Branigan, whose knowledge of the club and design input aided the project considerably according to Spogárd.

The decision was taken to make changes to three of the course’s holes, and Spogárd spoke to GCA about the project.

“On hole two parts of the three-tiered green – which was only built about six years ago – were reshaped to remove one of the tiers, as the green contours made it almost unplayable and partly unpinnable during certain weather conditions,” said Spogárd. “We also adjusted some of the fairway bunkers and green side bunkers, so that there is a greater emphasis on ‘mental agility’ – more in line with the ideas of the original architect Tom Simpson.”

Spogárd also elaborated on how he thinks players will now look to play the second hole.

“The layup shot had no strategic value before, but now needs to be played to the right side of the fairway, flirting with a new fairway bunker, to gain the optimal angle to the angled green,” he said. “The shaping has also been aesthetically improved so that the hole now appears more natural and settled in the landscape.”

The fifth hole at Co. Louth had severe turf issues on the green due to a lack of pinnable areas according to Spogárd. A detailed digital survey was carried out prior to the green extension, which enables the club to reconstruct the green if methods develop which allows them to maintain the green in a good turf condition.

“50-80 years ago it would have been pinnable almost throughout, but the faster green and increased number of golfers makes it impossible to maintain it in a good condition,” said Spogárd. “We kept 90 per cent of the green intact as it is and stripped 10 per cent towards the back left corner, which was flattened out and tied into a green enlargement area of approximately 100 sq m. This will increase the pinnable area by approximately 150 per cent. Tom Simpson’s idea of a runoff on the left remain and provides – together with the two original green bunkers on the right– the hole’s main defence.”

Work was also carried out on the seventeenth hole at Co. Louth, and Spogárd said that many considered it to be the weakest hole on the course. When the opportunity arose to build a new alternate green on space which was not available to Tom Simpson when he laid out the course, Spogárd was eager to add to the hole’s definition and character.

“An alternate green has been built approximately 50-60 metres to the right of the existing seventeenth green,” said Spogárd. “The new green complex is considerably more dramatic and will provide a more climactic end to the round. There are no plans to abandon the existing seventeenth hole, so the club can freely set up the course as it wants.”

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