Swanston Golf Course in Edinburgh, Scotland, will reopen on Saturday 30 May after a comprehensive renovation. Local golf architects Ronnie Lumsden and Graeme Tait have spent four years transforming the course, located at the base of the Pentland Hills.
Lumsden and Tait were appointed in 2005 by owner Colin McClung to replace five holes on the most elevated slopes of the existing course, design a nine hole short course, a driving range and short game practice facilities.
The team considered three separate areas of land and finally agreed that 30 hectares of existing farmland to the north-east were most suitable. To merge the new holes into the existing routing a total of seven holes were replaced with six holes located on the new site and a seventh on the existing golf course (made possible by alterations to two other holes). The new layout introduces two par fives to the course, increases par from 66 to 68 and adds 500 yards in length, but, said Tait: “More importantly than numbers, the new holes are more challenging, varied, visible and ultimately more enjoyable than the ones they replace.”
Developer McClung acted as site manager throughout construction. “I was impressed with the architects’ professionalism and ability to lead me through the design process,” he said. “Their design flair and imagination is reflected in the high standard of the new holes, but to achieve this, Ronnie and Graeme had to be flexible enough to include client input and incorporate the on site modifications that are a part of all such projects.”
The new nine hole short course is an integral part of the project, and can be played in a six hole layout, providing a more difficult test for improving golfers.
The course’s location in the Pentland Hills meant the project was ecologically sensitive. Meetings with Regional Park Rangers and Scottish Natural Heritage resulted in a plan to enhance the environmental and ecological aspects of the site. New habitats have been created and continue to be developed, existing dry stone walls were rebuilt and relocated and excavated rock was used to create water features.
Tait said: “The new land had lost much of its character through years of farming and left an area with few features to influence the design of the new holes. This blank canvas allowed flexibility in the location of features but made their integration much more difficult. The restoration of a more natural hillside landscape became key to the success of the design and the gently sloping field has now been transformed into a golfing landscape where it is difficult to see the join between the old and the new.”