Earl Grey GC: An opportunity to create a stronger course

  • Earl Grey

    Wayne Carleton has renovated the course at Earl Grey Golf Club

  • Earl Grey

    The project saw seven holes renovated and new bunkering throughout the course

  • Earl Grey

    Carleton’s changes were prompted by the construction of a new public pathway alongside the reservoir

  • Earl Grey

    The course work was completed, and a new clubhouse opened in summer 2018

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

GCA spoke with golf course architect Wayne Carleton about his work at Earl Grey Golf Club in Calgary, Canada, where he oversaw a golf course renovation in 2018, in time for the club’s centennial.

The club was founded in 1919 by Duncan Stuart, with the original course consisting of five holes. It was later expanded to a full 18 in 1933 by club member Philip Boese.

Carleton’s project which started in 2017 and was completed in 2018, was prompted by the city of Calgary’s decision to install a public walking and bike path on the perimeter of the course. It led to the renovation of seven holes and, at the same time, bunkers were renovated, and new tees added throughout the course.

“I had been actively working in western Canada for over 25 years developing new courses and renovating and restoring many well-respected private clubs in British Columbia and Alberta,” said Carleton. “The club did an architect search and I was shortlisted and asked to present planning options and a programme for the renovation of the course. After numerous meetings and presentations, I was appointed as the architect to complete the master renovation plan.

“The club leases the property from the city of Calgary. The course is located above the Glenmore Reservoir and the city approved the installation of a public walking and bike path along the top of the escarpment that immediately affected five holes on the golf course.

“Therefore, the club had to renovate these holes along with a few others, including holes on their nine-hole course, mainly building new greens and tees, a couple of new holes and rerouting some of the holes to maintain the 18-hole course,” continued Carleton. “Given that they were going to need to close the course for about eight months, they also approved the renovation of all the bunkers, the installation of a new irrigation system and the construction of a new clubhouse.”

The most significant change was to the seventh hole, as the path cut directly through the previous hole, which sat alongside the reservoir. An entirely new par three has been created adjacent to the previous hole.

The eleventh, previously a par four, was extended to a par five with new tees and a new green. Several other new greens and tees were built, and holes altered to accommodate the changes.

All bunkers on the course were renovated which, along with the new irrigation system, give the course an all-new feel.

“The most impactful aspect of the project was the loss of prime land along the reservoir that offered spectacular views from the golf course,” said Carleton. “This was a big concern for the members and the goal was to maintain the integrity of the design and quality of the holes we were losing, and I feel we accomplished that objective and have created a better routing and course for the members. I was excited to see how the new holes would play and always felt that we had the opportunity to create a stronger course. The combination of the course changes, bunker renovation and new clubhouse was very well received by the members.

“I always look at my projects as a team effort,” continued Carleton. “As architects, we are responsible for the final product and design, but that is not possible without a strong, supporting membership and management team and a great contractor [CTC Golf Construction] to complete the project. I was lucky to work with a very experienced, now retired, general manager in Dwayne Blume, the previous golf professional Richard Stringer and golf course superintendent Terry Shinkewski, that had considerable experience with renovation and construction and knew the course well. I really enjoyed working with the team and that will be one of the memories I take away from the project. Calgary is a great Canadian city with very unpredictable weather making it tough to do construction work. It can snow at any time of the year and we did see this happen in September delaying construction and also in April and May delaying our start in 2018 and pushing back the opening date.”