Christine Fraser of Hawtree Limited has overseen the creation of a new nine-hole par-three course at Adlington Golf Centre in Cheshire, England.
The new course has been designed to replace the centre’s existing Graduate course, which will be lost when a new road construction project starts.
“Adlington Golf Centre was an exciting and equally challenging newbuild owing to the unique parameters set out in the design brief: to relocate the Graduate course while preserving the features of the original design,” said Fraser.
“The surface area, material, and construction method were limited to a near exact replica of the existing Graduate course. Herein lay the challenge of reproducing an existing design on a very dissimilar piece of land.”
Even though the new site is close to the existing layout, the character of the land is very different. “It is much bigger, more undulating; woven through woodland, dotted with ponds, ancient oaks, hedgerows, and habitat-rich marsh and meadowlands,” said Fraser. “Overall, much more interesting landforms than the original plot of agricultural land.
“Our plan was to take surface area measurements of the old and use these as guidelines for the new,” said Fraser. “An overall measurement of tees, fairways, and greens was to be redistributed throughout the new nine holes. The routing, shaping, and yardage distributions were all modified to best suit the new location.
“One visible difference between the courses is that there are no bunkers on the new Graduate course. This decision was made to reduce daily labour-intensive maintenance and long-term maintenance costs.
“Instead, players will contend with classic Hawtree contouring on many of the green surrounds – deep fall-offs, big broad movement and short-cut turf, providing equally as much interest and challenge to any green not hit in regulation.”
Hole yardages and the footprint of greens, tees and fairways are similar to the existing course, but the number of teeing areas on each hole has been reduced from three to two to avoid unnecessary turf maintenance.
“The additional acreage on the new site gives the feel of a much bigger, broader, commanding course,” said Fraser. “The space allows for the holes to feel individual, unique, and well separated from each other by way of woodlands, hedgerows, and natural topographic barriers.
“Similarities between the courses will be found in design intent, non-penal strategy, contouring and overall yardage. Complex putting surfaces combined with demanding tee shots create the challenging, yet extremely fun and exciting round of golf the Graduate course has become known for.
“Although we did have pre-set design parameters, the freedom of a newbuild is thrilling. I was able to spend a great amount of time on site both pre and during construction and getting to work directly with the client and contractor was what made this project special.”
MJ Abbott began construction in May 2018 and by October, it was ready for seeding – using J Rye Fairway and J Green mixtures from Johnsons Sports Seed.
“Works could have been completed earlier,” said Steve Briggs, contracts director at MJ Abbott. “The early weeks on site were blessed with great weather and production was fantastic. Part of the new layout, including two green and two tee complexes, was affected by overhead power lines. These were slow to be removed and by the time they were diverted in early September the weather had made a turn for the worst. Despite this minor hold up, the last areas to be seeded went into winter with a healthy grass cover and by summer 2019 showed no sign of being seeded later. The site is also split into two distinct soil types with a very sandy section and heavy clay. The terrain is rolling and natural with mature trees and the new holes sit into the landscape very well.”
“Both David Moss and MJ Abbott encouraged us to take risks, make mistakes, and design outside the box,” said Fraser. “Their support and encouragement were especially meaningful to me, as a young female designer.
“In my opinion, the most important and most impactful design work happens on-site during construction – where the plans are left in the office and the details are finessed directly with the shaper. They had the experience I lacked, and that is where I learned the most – out in the dirt and the rain, watching the course come to life.”