Welling leads collaborative renovation of Valley Club courses

  • Valley Club

    Green complexes are being reshaped to introduce strategy and interest for approach shots into greens

  • Valley Club

    Adjustments have been made to alter bunker positioning

  • Valley Club

    Fairways and landing areas have been reshaped to improve playability

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

The Valley Club in Hailey, Idaho, USA, has hired Beau Welling Design and Love Golf Design to renovate its Hale Irwin-designed North and South courses, to help address the club’s aging irrigation system, as well as improving the courses’ aesthetics and playability.

“The design process included extensive data collection and observation of course play for all skill/handicap levels,” said Welling. “The findings were assessed and through collaboration with club staff and members, adjustments have been made to alter bunker positioning, greens, and landing areas to achieve a fun, playable course that emphasises strategy and shot values.”

Construction work, by Heritage Links, is in progress on the nine-hole South course and includes the “reshaping of green complexes to introduce strategy and interest for approach shots into greens; and also improves the variety of holes by changing green angles, green sizes, and bunker placement from one hole to the next.” The onsite construction manager is Mike Webb, and the golf course shaper is Joe Titzer.

The design focus has been on improving playability and options, especially around the greens, and risk-reward scenarios.

Welling said: “Fairways and landing areas have been thoughtfully reshaped to allow for more expansive turf areas where higher handicappers will be positioned.”

Many of the existing fairway bunkers do not come into play for longer hitters, so the renovation will adjust the bunker placement to challenge them from the tee while allowing higher handicappers to navigate around the new bunkers. There will also be new forward tees for youth, senior and beginner players.

The project also addresses the club’s aging irrigation system, which has allowed the design team, with the help of construction firm Heritage Links, to increase the water usage on the course through “the implementation of water conserving technology, techniques, and an overall reduction of the irrigated turf area. Due to the reduction of irrigated turf area, the course strategy required adjustment as bunker positioning and reshaping interesting and strategic green complexes,” said Welling. He adds that the new infrastructure, technology and course design will lead to a water consumption saving of nearly 25%.

“The reduction in irrigated area has led to the creation of new native, fescue areas. Fescue areas have been thoughtfully located away from landing areas and other high traffic areas to avoid increased shots played from the tall native grasses,” said Welling.

Located in the Sun Valley resort community, Welling plans selective tree clearing to take advantage of the club’s long-range views of the valley and mountains. He says he aims to capture views of hidden waterways situated throughout the course, as well as creating contrasting holes to “provide further interest and character to the golf course.”

The project is particularly interesting to both Welling and Davis Love III, given that Welling assisted with the initial conceptualisation of the West course while with Fazio Golf Course Designers and Love being a member of the club.

Construction began on the South course in April 2018 and is expected to finish in mid-September 2018, with all green complexes now grassed and seeded, and work continuing with the renovation of tee and fairway complexes. Construction of the North course is expected to begin in April 2019 and finish in September 2019. These two phases ensure that 18 holes remain open to members of the 27-hole club throughout construction.