Losby Golf Club in Norway has appointed Caspar Grauballe to renovate green complexes to cope better with climate challenges, and create a new driving range.
Losby sees long, dry spells in spring and early summer, with heavy rains becoming more frequent in autumn and early winter. There are large fluctuations in temperature in winter, and ice regularly forms on greens. With extreme weather conditions seeming more common, the club decided to act.
“The existing greens were constructed at a time where the focus in Norway on both surface and sub-surface drainage was less than it should have been,” said Grauballe. “The consequence is that large volumes of water would run directly onto greens, not helped by the lack of drainage underneath the sand based rootzone. This is especially problematic in winter when snow is on the ground, and we get thawing temperatures during the day, and it freezes during the night – the water gets trapped on the putting surfaces and turns to ice. The greens are very large, which means that water has a long distance to travel to get off the putting surface.
“Also, we have a very limited number of pesticides and chemicals available for maintaining the greens and it looks like restrictions will be further tightened in future. To maintain the course in a sustainable fashion, the design and construction must take this into consideration.”
Grauballe will design new greens to ensure no water will run onto them from the surrounds and there will be several runoff points to move water away from the green surfaces as quickly as possible. Making greens smaller will also reduce the distance water has to travel.
“From a playing perspective, the new greens will be smaller targets,” said Grauballe. “However, with updated bunkering and runoff areas, the course will be more strategic. The new greens and updated bunkers and surrounds offer more diversity of challenge. Great care has been taken to open the approaches to greens so players with slower swing speeds can roll their ball on.
“I have revamped the aprons to facilitate more variation in the shots played from the surrounds, but also to make the visual impact of the greens suit the surrounding landscape. The real challenge for me as an architect is to combine the practical and agronomic aspects with aesthetics and playability.
“Since the course was built in the 1990s, a lot has happened to the game. Future phases include matching the fairway bunkering to the new greens design as well as updating tees. They will be realigned to improve the playing experience and new forward tees will be added.”
The driving range is the first point of focus for Grauballe, due to it suffering from very wet conditions. The new range area will be sandcapped and have a new drainage system, so it can be kept open as long as there is no snow.
“Work on greens will mean parts of the course will be closed for play,” said Grauballe. “To make it less painful for the players, the range will be updated with target greens and the club is also investing in Trackman technology to help create the best possible practice conditions. The club already has traditional putting greens and a synthetic putting green to allow players to practice their short game as soon as possible in the spring.”
This article is based on material that appeared in the January 2024 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.