Golf course goals for Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale

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    Gareth Bale (left) with Southwest Greens Construction’s Kevin Holinaty

  • Southwest

    Bale’s course has synthetic greens replicate the way a golf ball responds on natural surfaces

  • Southwest

    The three-hole course is inspired by famous par threes at TPC Sawgrass, Royal Troon and Augusta National

Kevin Holinaty
By Kevin Holinaty

It’s not every day that you get to build a golf course in a football superstar’s garden. So, we were absolutely delighted when Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale – who, following a recent hat trick, is now the leading all-time goal scorer for his national team, Wales – invited us to work on his personal golf project.

It was a hat trick of a different type that Gareth requested: a three-hole course inspired by famous par threes – the seventeenth hole at TPC Sawgrass, the Postage Stamp eighth hole at Royal Troon and the twelfth at Augusta National. Golf course architect James Edwards of EDI Golf put the facility together with multiple tees distances alongside the original tee shots for variety and fun.

Our proprietary Southwest Greens Pro System synthetic surface was chosen for its playability, durability, low maintenance and, crucially, because it replicates the way a golf ball responds on natural surfaces, in terms of ball roll, bite and bounce. Southwest Greens Construction collaborated with Southwest Greens UK to deliver the project for Gareth. Working with Gareth and his team was a truly enjoyable, professional experience, and it is rewarding to see him so happy with the end result.

It may not be the type of project that comes along every day, but we definitely see an increase in the popularity of private courses. In the past, facilities like this were not really viable in home settings. Apart from the high cost of maintenance and the required specialised equipment, it was difficult to keep the course in top condition throughout the year, unless a full-time skilled crew was employed. That works for a golf club with many members, but is too much of a burden for a home owner.

With the proven functionality of our synthetic systems in all key components of the golf course, from tees to greens to bunkers to fairway to rough, we are able to take away the maintenance difficulties, effectively enabling home owners to have a top-quality facility such as Gareth’s, with all the bells and whistles. What’s crucial is that the right synthetic system is used, in the right way, for the given setting to replicate ‘the real thing’. This, coupled with correct golf course construction methods and beautiful designs, gives us the unique opportunity to deliver the dream facility for our clients.

Watch: Gareth Bale discussing the new golf course in his back garden

When engineered for golf, synthetic systems enable these dreams. This provides creative, interesting work for architects and construction firms, and other course suppliers like ourselves, generating a supplemental line of business for us all that simply was not there before. The private segment is definitely interesting and growing. Furthermore, these short golf concepts can easily be replicated at hotels or other venues like horse racing tracks or polo clubs. The industry is looking for areas of growth and this has to be good for golf.

In the case of a superstar like Gareth it also generates an enormous amount of interest. One simple post about the golf course on his social media has already generated 600,000 views. Positive publicity like that is great for bringing new people to the game.

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This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Golf Course Architecture.