Johan Benestam is overseeing a project to rebuild the practice range area at Royal Drottningholm near Stockholm, Sweden.
The new range area will be shaped using fill from a nearby road widening project.
“Thanks to the abundant material available, about 7,000 lorry loads, shaping possibilities have been significant,” said Benestam. “At the same time, there is not a lot of space. That and safety issues with the adjacent eighteenth hole dictate the number of practical solutions. However, I think the members will be happy with what they get. Instead of hitting balls into a windy field, they will have something much more like a real golf hole in front of them when they practice.”
Benestam, a long-time member and former greenkeeper at the club, oversaw a complete redesign of greens and surrounds in 2011, as well as rebuilding fairways and updating the course with a new drainage system.
”The range was the only part of the club’s offering not touched in 2011, now we put that right,” said club manager Stefan Andorff. “It is also a win for the environment. Thanks to this project, thousands of long trips by lorry have been avoided and range balls will now last longer before being replaced.”
Lorries started arriving with material in the autumn and continued over the winter. Final deliveries were delayed by unusually mild weather, which prevented the use of heavy machinery, and the coronavirus pandemic, which delayed the road project. Final shaping is now scheduled to take place in June or July, instead of May.
Speaking of Benestam’s 2011 work, Andorff said: “The members would play on substandard surfaces for up to half the season before if we were unlucky with the weather. Now the course is in great shape from the start of the season to the end. Thanks to the drainage system, our fairways stay dry all the time, even after major downpours. It is almost as if we had a course built on pure sand.”
“The 2011 project integrated some of Rafael Sundblom’s original ideas and kept most of his routing, but it is wrong to talk about a restoration. The greens, their surrounds and the bunker placement were all Johan’s work and it is in no small measure thanks to them that golfers appreciate us more now.”
“Sundblom designed greens angled to the direction of play and bunkers built into mounds,” said Benestam. “Unfortunately, he passed away just before the start of construction and his successor was too busy on other projects, so the end result was a lot less interesting than the plans.”
The opening of the new range area has been moved from September 2020 to April 2021.