The Grove in Hertfordshire, England, has completed a bunker renovation on its Kyle Phillips-designed course.
The ten-week project saw Phillips’ shaper Theo Travis working alongside a team from The Grove – including golf course and estates manager Phil Chiverton, director of golf Anna Darnell and head greenkeeper Jonathan Taylor and his team – plus a crew from contractor MJ Abbott, to rebuild all 90 bunkers on the course. Kyle Phillips oversaw the project.
The Grove – which hosted a 2003 World Golf Championship, won by Tiger Woods, and the British Masters in 2016 – opened in 2003, and is set in rolling parkland surrounding a historic country house that is now a luxury hotel. With seventeen years of play, the club decided the golf course investment was required to maintain “world-class” conditions.
Chiverton said: “Remedial repairs were required, especially around the edges, and we also needed to attend to weak areas of turf, re-address bunker shaping lines, and manage native grass areas surrounding them. We also took the opportunity to review the relationship between mown and unmown areas, and how they marry together from a playability and aesthetic perspective.”
“We reconstructed and restored the shaping of the bunkers more closely to their original size, shape and playability,” said Phillips.
Work began in early January and Chiverton said the process was like a military operation. “We knew that all drainage was working perfectly and had replaced sand recently for the 2016 British Masters, so we started by piling the sand into the middle of the bunker. We then marked and stripped the area around the bunker to allow Theo to do the shaping work. Once approved by Kyle, our finishing team followed behind to measure and lay appropriate turf, including a pure fescue behind the bunkers.”
Heavy rainfall and subsequent wet ground conditions during the project presented significant challenges to the team. Steve Briggs from MJ Abbott said: “Our vehicles had to stay on the cart paths and we laid boards out to enable the crew to access working areas without damaging turf. An outstanding team effort in challenging conditions has delivered fantastic results in a relatively short space of time.”
The entire project saw over 12,000 rolls of turf laid. The team also extended the practice putting green by 200 square metres and added a new tee to create a slightly different angle of attack on the par-four fifth hole. The new tee also gives Chiverton an opportunity to trial the Capillary Hydroponics system from Capillary Concrete, which requires no overhead irrigation.
The course remained in play throughout the project, with only three holes being worked on at any given time. Temporary greens were only brought into play when needed to ensure staff safety.
Most golf course work was completed before the coronavirus outbreak took hold. With some of the UK’s lockdown measures now eased, the course reopened for play on 20 May.
“While we are not a members’ club we do have many regulars and their positive feedback has been fantastic,” said Chiverton.