Golfpark Zürichsee in Nuolen, Switzerland, has reopened as an 18-hole course following a two-year expansion project overseen by Kurt Roßknecht of Rossknecht Golfplan.
Zürichsee originally consisted of a nine-hole layout, a short course and training facilities.
“It is not a classic nine-hole extension. Ultimately fourteen holes were newly created or significantly changed,” said Roßknecht. “The ultimate planning goal is to create a varied and fair golf course from the recreational golfer to the skilled player.”
There was space for five new holes on a filled gravel pit at the adjacent Rütihof site. “Four holes were integrated into the existing nine-hole course,” said Roßknecht. “This was only possible because various smaller areas were previously not used for golf and some holes were extended, adapted or rebuilt.”
The existing holes benefit from a well-developed landscape, with trees, ponds and flower meadows. “The five new holes on the Rütihof site are quite different,” said Roßknecht. “Here, the landscape had to be redefined. There is an almost continuous impressive view of Lake Zurich and the surrounding mountains from these holes.”
Preserving the view, by not planting trees or shrubs, was an important part of the plan. “On the other hand, the holes needed a protective separation from each other so that the balls do not fly unchecked criss-cross,” said Roßknecht. “This was achieved by filling the pit and modelling the earth so that the individual tracks were separated by ridges and earthworks. These hills remain without topsoil coverage.
“This has the consequence that the rocky and compacted landfill material offers poor growth conditions. This is intentional, because it allows dry and grassland lawns to develop, which were then landscaped. There are colourful flower meadows which are extremely attractive, and they bloom virtually all spring until late in the summer. Balls that land there are findable as the plants grow spotty and low. The care required for these slowly growing meadows is extremely low with one, to a maximum of two, cuts per year.
“The course is slightly hilly,” continues Roßknecht. “There are many water hazards and wet meadows, some of which are protected as spawning grounds for toads and frogs. There are ball-swallowing ponds, streams and woody plants, as well as bunkers that defend the landing areas.”
“The four par fives are completely different in length and character. On the fourth hole, the presence of a big tree means players require a straight tee shot in order to set themselves up for an approach to the huge and open green. Ponds and a stream accompany the entire length of the eighth. The tenth is slightly uphill and with two good strokes, the green can be reached, and has a pleasurable view from the green over the lake to Rapperswil. The sixteenth has a pond and then a deep pot bunker in front of the green.
“A pond features on two par threes that are short and play slightly downhill, accessible from all tees. The other two par threes are longer and well defended by bunkers.”
There are also some short par fours that require precision play, including the seventh, eleventh and fourteenth.
New bunkers have been constructed with the Betty Billy Bunker liner and Durabunker edges. They have already been tested, following some extreme rain events, and the club is benefitting from their performance.
Construction was a logistical challenge, since nine holes had to be playable throughout. “This was achieved with certain restrictions that the players had to accept,” said Roßknecht. “They endured it patiently because they were able to follow, with immense appreciation, the expansion of the entire facility.”
Andreas Feldmann managed the project and controlled the budget with Roßknecht. The club’s management Ursina Bisculm and Arthur ‘Turi’ Baselgia oversaw construction from the operator’s perspective, and head greenkeeper Steven Tierney ensured attention was paid to the maintainability and the execution quality of the renovation.