Golf course architect Jeff Howes has completed the first phase of a two-year renovation of Castlebar Golf Club in County Mayo, Ireland, following the building of a road through part of the course.
The project is scheduled over two phases and will include six new holes, three modified holes, and a new range and short game area. The first phase began in April 2018 with the construction of five new holes, which were seeded in July.
“Due to a new road being built, the course is losing two greens and a portion of its fairways,” said Howes. “Fortunately land adjacent to the course was available to purchase, which allows reconfiguring of the routing and to include a practice area close to the clubhouse.
“The new land purchased by the club for the new holes had many archaeological and historical landscape features. Two ringed forts were avoided and a ‘ha-ha’ [a wall in a ditch, traditionally used to form a boundary without interrupting the view] was incorporated into the design and will be highlighted to the golfers with a plaque, as many people do not know what a ha-ha is,” said Howes.
“The new holes will also increase the biodiversity of the area as previously the land was used for grazing but now there is a new pond, two new wetland areas, while large areas of wild flowers and grasses have been created.
“It was a challenge to route and phase the project to allow for 18 holes of play at all times with no disruption to play,” said Howes. “The area where the course is located is called rocklands and there is good reason for that. Sheet rock and sometimes fractured limestone was always between 25 centimetres and one metre below the surface. This made drainage extremely difficult to install.”
Recent extreme dry weather was both benefit and hindrance. Construction was uninterrupted by rain, but because fairways did not have irrigation, the timing of seeding was impacted.
Irish firm Dar Golf was responsible for construction, and Howes said: “They were very professional as usual and a pleasure to work with.”
The second phase of the project is scheduled to start in April 2019, provided the holes already worked on during the first phase are ready for play. “All indications so far are that it will be ready,” said Howes.
All work is scheduled to be completed and the course fully open for play by summer 2020.