Second phase of reconstruction complete at historic Royal Mid-Surrey

Second phase of reconstruction complete at historic Royal Mid-Surrey
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

The Royal Mid-Surrey club in south London has completed the reconstruction of the front nine holes of its Outer course. Architect Martin Ebert led the project, and contractor MJ Abbott handled the construction, the same team as did a similar job on the course’s back nine in 2009.

The project included the construction of new greens for all the holes. Two, the eighth and ninth, were particular challenging, as the green surface had to be elevated above the level of the Thames floodplain. Greenside bunkers on both holes were abandoned, as the bunkers could not be built high enough to protect them from flood events, and replaced with mounds. Mid-Surrey has long been famous for its mounding; five times Open champion JH Taylor was the club’s professional for 47 years, and developed his philosophy of ‘alpinisation’ during extensive reworking of the club’s two courses.

To compensate for the loss of flood detention capacity caused by raising the two greens and their surrounds, Abbotts lowered designated zones within the floodplain, creating new wetland areas.

The Mid-Surrey site is a Grade 1 listed landscape, located within the historic setting of Richmond’s Old Deer Park. Lying within the boundaries of the golf course itself is the 18th century King’s Observatory and negotiations were required with English Heritage and the Crown Estate Commissioners to ensure that long-established view lines from the historic were not affected by the reconstruction work.

The 16 week project ran from June-September 2013. The presence of badger setts in close proximity to four of the new green sites prevented any immediate works on those greens. To overcome this, one-way gates were installed by MJ Abbott under licence from Natural England and under the supervision of the Sports Turf Research Institute. Installed at all sett entrances, the gates were monitored for activity throughout July.

Although successful, the action made work impossible on the affected greens until August, resulting in a major push to get the four greens built, drained and sown before the end of August seeding deadline.

Martin Ebert said: “Royal Mid-Surrey members can look forward to playing the full Outer course in 2014, using a complete set of top quality greens that have been built to the same design style and construction specifications by the same company. All eighteen greens strike a perfect balance, providing a suitable golfing challenge, visual attractiveness, interesting surface contours, great playability and good maintainability.”