Royal Sydney Golf Club has appointed Gil Hanse to create a masterplan for the club’s golf facilities as part of a wider club effort to enhance its amenities up to 2030.
Located in the Rose Bay suburb of Sydney, Australia, Royal Sydney has a rich history and tradition, having been formed back in 1893.
GCA caught up with Paul Hinton, general manager at Royal Sydney GC, to discuss the club’s aims going forward, and the role Hanse will play in making their vision for the course into a reality.
“We wanted to respect and consider the history and evolution of the club and the course throughout its history, and this was a definite factor when developing our strategic plan running up to 2030, which we presented to members earlier this year,” Hinton says. “We’ve seen a steady increase in terms of member usage in the past 5-10 years, and that’s not showing any signs of slowing down. We want to provide members with facilities they want to utilise.”
A new fitness centre, two swimming pools, a new childminding area and a more family-friendly café area have all been introduced at the club in recent times, which has helped increase membership activity.
“We do around 65,000 rounds on our championship course each year, and we also have a nine-hole centenary course, which takes roughly 10,000-15,000 rounds a year as well,” Hinton says.
At this stage, the scope of Hanse’s work has been provided to him in the form of brief by the club’s green and match committee, who have worked closely with the course superintendent and different stakeholders within the club. This brief features a series of current challenges identified by the club, as well as encompassing factors such as high usage levels and the aim of having the course at a high standard of conditioning.
“This brief was responded to by Gil Hanse, as well as a number of other architects, but we deemed Gil to be the successful candidate and a really strong appointment from our perspective,” Hinton says. “We’ve not said to Gil ‘we want a major restoration or renovation or redesign’ – we’ve given him the golf course as it is now and said ‘can you help us with these challenges, and tell us how you’ll go about it’.”
The brief covers the two courses, practice facility and turf care maintenance facility.
“Among the key drivers for the golf course project is an aging irrigation system of 30 years or so in the ground,” says Hinton. “Significant tree encroachment has also come into playing areas, which is presenting a number of agronomic challenges around root infestation, as well as shade issues around greens, and the playability of corridors.”
Hinton explains that the greens are around 15 years old, and that the Poa in the turf is currently at an undesirable level.
“The project will include the resurfacing of these greens, to create pure bentgrass putting surfaces,” he says.
Hinton says that the bunkers feature steep faces and use a particularly spherical variety of sand grain – both of which mean a high level of maintenance is required.
“Our bunkers also create a challenge for us, in terms of design, playability and accessibility – and I’m not talking about getting the ball out of the bunker, I’m talking about getting the member out of the bunker!” he says.
Hanse is due out to Royal Sydney in September, and will be back to see the course in tournament play during the Emirates Australian Open Championship later this year. The club is hosting the tournament for the 15th time in its history from 17-20 November.
“Because of the way our club operates, we need to go to our membership for approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting for any changes to the golf course or to spend a certain amount of money, in accordance with the rules of our constitution,” Hinton says. “To do that we need detailed, costed plans to go through the whole process. We need Committee and Sub-Committee sign off at several levels.”
Hinton adds: “We believe Gil Hanse will deliver some form of high level masterplan to us with concepts towards the end of this year or early next year.”