Four-year project at Glenelg focuses on embracing course’s linksland feel

  • Glenelg
    Glenelg Golf Club

    Neil Crafter is collaborating with Bob Tuohy and Ryan Van Der Veen on a four-year renovation at Glenelg Golf Club in Adelaide, Australia

  • Glenelg
    Glenelg Golf Club

    Preparatory work included preparing the nineteenth hole for extended play

  • Glenelg
    Glenelg Golf Club

    Work has already been completed on the eighteenth hole

  • Glenelg
    Crafter + Mogford Golf Strategies

    The par-four thirteenth is the next to be renovated

  • Glenelg
    Crafter + Mogford Golf Strategies

    The sixth hole, which is scheduled for work in the final phase, ahead of project completion in late 2025

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

The first phase of a four-year renovation project is under way at Glenelg Golf Club in Adelaide, Australia.

The plan was developed by Neil Crafter of Crafter + Mogford Golf Strategies in collaboration with Bob Tuohy, a Glenelg life member and former professional golfer, and the club’s project and construction manager Ryan Van Der Veen.

The project involves renovating greens, rebuilding bunkers and replacing the irrigation infrastructure with a new Rainbird IC system. Some design changes will be made to improve playability, and tree and vegetation work will be completed.

“Glenelg is at a point in its history where a confluence of issues, including ageing irrigation infrastructure, bunker maintenance demands, and management of out-of-play areas are causing a drain on finances,” said Crafter. “It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the standard of the course that the members and visitors expect.”

The first phase, which covers the second, thirteenth, fourteenth and eighteenth holes, is now under way, following preparatory work on the nineteenth hole and the creation of a new turf nursery, south of the second hole.

“The guiding principle for the implementation of the plan is that 18 holes will remain in play for members at all times,” said Crafter. “One hole will be closed at a time to enable work to be undertaken, with the nineteenth hole in play for that period. Work on the next hole will not commence until the previous hole is back in play. The extended use that the nineteenth hole will see over the next four years was the reason upgrade works have recently been undertaken on it to expand the tee and fairway areas and eliminate one greenside bunker.

“There will be no temporary greens needed during the implementation phase, although temporary tees will need to be utilised on some holes from time to time to suit construction logistics.”

Work has already been completed on the eighteenth, and it has now returned to member play. “The redevelopment of the eighteenth included bunker reconstruction, expanded fairway areas, green resurfacing, and the replacement of an ageing retaining wall on the left side of the green,” said Crafter, whose attention now turns to the thirteenth.

“Glenelg has embarked on an exciting course enhancement programme, and I commend them for their investment in putting a full-time designer/shaper/project manager on staff,” said Van Der Veen. “The course has great potential to be brought back to its roots while embracing that natural linksland feel of the Adelaide sandbelt area. Neil Crafter brings some great history as the club’s architect over the past 40 years and it’s a privilege to be working with him to get the best out of this property. Having worked in the linksland of Ireland in the past, I’m excited to incorporate some subtle design techniques to bring something a bit unique to Adelaide and Australia.”

Greens will be resurfaced with a new blend of bentgrass, contours will be modified for additional pin positions and agronomic reasons, the sand profile will be refreshed, and new collars will be created to prevent couch encroachment. Six greens will be completely redesigned.

Work on the course’s revetted bunkers will include using artificial turf to enhance their sustainability. A new ‘hybrid’ style of fairway bunkers that combine revetted and natural sand faces will also be developed. Crafter and the project team’s work will see the number of bunkers on the course reduced and the club will introduce a combination of mechanical and manual maintenance practices to improve efficiency.

Crafter’s plan also includes adding more teeing options, reducing the amount of maintained rough, increasing fairway areas for more shotmaking options, and creating sparsely vegetated sandy areas with indigenous plantings to improve pace of play and prevent balls from being lost.

The property’s pine trees and indigenous specimens, such as native pine, will be maintained, while unsuitable tree species will be removed and replaced with local ones.

“The redeveloped Glenelg course will build upon the strengths and visual appeal of the current course while distilling the strategic nature of each hole,” said Crafter, who expects the final phase to be completed in late 2025. “Reducing bunker numbers while enhancing strategy has been a real design challenge, but I expect the reimagined holes will provide a good test of golf for all levels of golfers.

“The visual appeal of the course as an inland links – Glenelg is located on sandy linksland less than a kilometre from the ocean – will be enhanced by the additional sandy rough areas and hybrid bunkers we have envisaged. Working collaboratively with Ryan Van Der Veen, an experienced architect and shaper in his own right, is proving very rewarding and the club is gaining the benefits of our combined skills and expertise. We are very much looking forward to the ongoing implementation process over the coming years.”