Richardson and Danner begin bunker work on Alaska course

  • Anchorage
    Richardson | Danner

    A visualisation showing how Richardson | Danner will blend bunkers into the rugged site at Anchorage Golf Club in Alaska

  • Anchorage
    Richardson | Danner

    Verde Sports Construction, led by shaper Jay Smith, is handling construction

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Richardson | Danner Golf Course Architects has started a bunker renovation at Anchorage Golf Course in Alaska.

The project comes after several years of masterplanning and work on greens at the public facility, originally designed by Bill Newcomb. Forrest Richardson and Jeff Danner aim to ensure bunkers better match the ruggedness of the site and in many areas, transition to the native hillsides and forest.

“Doing work in Alaska is much different than most places,” said Richardson. “Here we have only so many months of golf weather, and that time in between the summer and the depth of winter is very short and always wet.”

To protect the work from rain, the project team is using tarps and installing bunker drainage, liners and sod quickly. “It’s like a pie factory where the conveyor belt doesn’t stop,” said Richardson. “We have crews hopping forward and it’s all been planned down to the minute.”

Verde Sports Construction, led by shaper Jay Smith, is handling construction with the Better Billy Bunker system employed. “Jay’s passion and eye for the integration of the bunkers into the natural surrounds are why we brought him in,” said Danner, who is overseeing the project. “It’s a collaboration, which is necessary to achieve the transformation at Anchorage in the short window we have due to the weather.”

Richardson and Danner are also creating a new 12,000-square-foot short game area, which will eventually anchor a six-hole short course, ‘The Little Bear’. “Anchorage is literally at the end of the earth,” says Richardson. “A short course here will open doors for youth that need activities during their long 19-hour summer days, and it will be a place where families can play together in an hour or less.”

The club will host the 2022 US Women’s Senior Amateur, making it the first national championship hosted in the state. USGA executive director Mike Davis announced the event by saying: “It’s a monumental occasion for us to bring a championship to Alaska, something that has been a long time coming... it is important we bring our events to all corners of the United States to expose golfers and golf fans to the inspiration and competitiveness of our championships.”