Staying ahead of the game at Clearwater Bay

Staying ahead of the game at Clearwater Bay
Kevin Holinaty
By Kevin Holinaty

Synthetic turf has long been considered an excellent choice for practice tees and short game areas. But I’m particularly excited as the growth in demand for our surfaces continues to evolve and expand within the golf course.

At Clearwater Bay Golf and Country Club in Hong Kong, we’re currently working on a new six-hole golf course – designed by Matt Swanson of Signature Design – that will use synthetic turf extensively. The site overlooks the sea and is a stunning setting for golfers of all abilities to enjoy the game.

The course will feature our Pro System on the greens, as well as our performance fairway, rough and bunker systems. Naturally, we are excited to be part of the construction of this golf facility at such a prestigious private golf club, and are pleased that Clearwater Bay has put their faith in our product and installation capacity.

The end result will be an extremely high quality course that is fitting for a club with such a commitment to excellence. Also, there are numerous benefits that would not have been possible with natural grass, including reduced maintenance, reduced water usage and the ability to provide a playing surface that would be consistent throughout the year.

Perhaps most importantly though, the new course will enable Clearwater Bay to address some of the key challenges that are currently being faced throughout the golf industry.

Firstly, the six-hole course will be playable in under 90 minutes. This gives busy members the opportunity to get a proper golf experience – and the ability to use at least two-thirds of the clubs in their bag, in a fraction of the time it takes to play a full 18-hole round.

Also, the new course will also be appealing and inviting to beginners and families – helping to bring a new generation of golfers into the sport by offering a fun experience in a beautiful location.

Just as importantly, the significant maintenance savings, both in dollars and manpower, give the club a distinct advantage. They get a very high quality facility without having to spend significant maintenance hours on it, allowing their focus to stay on the 18-hole championship course.

The course at Clearwater Bay will not be the first time we have brought our product to Hong Kong, having also completed a project with Nicklaus Design at the Hong Kong Golf & Tennis Academy. Interestingly, it was after visiting this facility that Peter Downie, general manager at Clearwater Bay, was convinced by the capabilities of synthetic turf.

“The initial impression when you arrive at the teeing ground is very impressive, but what surprised me were the results and feedback I got when hitting full eight irons, not only from the tee surface, but also into the greens,” he said. “The ball was reacting and spinning on the greens surface like I experience on a high quality natural surface.”

Golfers are the most demanding of customers – they will only be satisfied with synthetic surfaces if they react in a way that they are accustomed to feeling and experiencing while playing on top quality natural surfaces. It’s the authentic experience that our surfaces provide that have convinced customers around the world – like Top of the Rock in Missouri, USA and at the new Golf Up facility in St Tropez, France – to turn to synthetic turf. Providing this authentic experience was critical factor for Clearwater Bay.

Now is the really exciting stage – seeing it all take shape. We are working with Linksshape, a Hong Kong-based golf construction firm led by Stuart Stone, on the earth moving and shaping elements of the project.

Once the new course is complete at the end of this year, Clearwater Bay will have an offering that is unique in its local market, helping them to remain the undisputed top golf facility in Hong Kong. 

Kevin Holinaty is president of Southwest Greens Construction

This article first appeared in issue 45 of Golf Course Architecture.