Golf course architecture firms Steiner & Partner and (re)GOLF are in progress with a new phase of renovation work at Golfclub Engelberg-Titlis near Lucerne, Switzerland.
The current project marks the third year that the club has worked with Steiner & Partner and (re)GOLF. In August 2017, the two firms completed repair and redesign work following a storm and landslide that caused damage to the course.
“The first mandate was to develop a masterplan for general course renovations with principal objectives to improve surface drainage in critical areas, make maintenance easier and renovate green complexes which were all very similar with regards to strategy, interest and variety,” said David Bily, landscape architect at Steiner & Partner.
“In the end, the new masterplan should include the renovation of thirteen green and tee complexes, a near complete bunker renovation and an increase of environmental areas which will require limited maintenance and fit into the mountain landscape vernacular,” said Paul O’Brien, partner architect at (re)GOLF.
The club is currently renovating five holes: including fairway remodelling, new bunker construction and new green complexes.
“The new greens are all very different with regards to size, shape and contouring,” said Jeff Lynch, partner architect at (re)GOLF. “Each brings something new to the course and should provide some different challenges and excitement to an already great mountain layout.”
Hole six features a toned-down version of a Biarritz green with a mountain stream running along the left edge. According to Bily, the new green complex at the sixth will prove to be the toughest on the course. “Short and right are safe on this longish par three,” said Bily. “But left is likely wet. Our objective from the beginning was to bring in different green shapes and give the members some variety, including some interesting short game challenges. Middle to back pins are definitely gettable on this hole but a front pin will make for a very tough par. Yes, it’s tough, but I think every course needs to have some easier holes and some tougher holes. This new addition will add some spice to that corner of the golf course.
“The site characteristics have also facilitated quick work because this mountain layout in the Swiss Alps has a very thin layer of topsoil and essentially no subsoil [between topsoil and bedrock]. This has saved considerable time in stockpiling any subsoil, so the contractor could simply remove turf and topsoil and immediately begin to model the subgrade.”
Two contractors have been involved in construction. Feierabend AG has been doing heavy lifting and Göldi AG the fine grading and finishing work. The five construction sites are ready for laying the sod, which will be undertaken after the spring thaw.
Following the heavy rains and flooding of 2017, the conditions have dried up considerably with nearly no rainfall during the past six months. As such, the current work has taken one-and-a-half months from the time ground was broken.
“Very efficient, at least in our experience,” said Erich Steiner, landscape architect at Steiner & Partner. “From our point of view, the timing is perfect. The new surfaces now have a chance to settle over winter and in spring, when the snow is gone and surfaces dry, the construction crew will fine grade the new surfaces to prepare them for sods, already ordered from Richter Rasen in Austria. Hopefully we can take up where we left off in mid-April at the latest.”
At an elevation of more than 1,000 metres, the course is usually open for play between May to early October, with the next phase of renovations expected to begin in the autumn of 2019. “The golfing season is relatively short up here,” said head greenkeeper and construction site manager, Simon Filiger. “Renovation work needs to be done within a very tight time frame. I’m extremely pleased with the efficient work this fall and the great collaboration between architect and contractors.”