Westenborg creates new dunescape at Southport & Ainsdale

  • Southport

    Marc Westenborg has created a new dunescape at Southport & Ainsdale

  • Southport

    The first tee, prior to renovation

  • Southport

    The first tee, following the renovation

  • Southport

    The eighteenth tee, prior to renovation

  • Southport

    The eighteenth tee, following the renovation

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Westenborg Golf Course Design has completed a project at Southport & Ainsdale Golf Club in Lancashire, England, which includes the creation of new dunes to improve aesthetics on the closing hole.

“The bulk of the project involved the formation of new dunes between the eighteenth fairway and driving range, and between the eighteenth tee complex and boundary,” said Marc Westenborg.

“We recommended this work because when playing the eighteenth hole, the range was clearly in view – very much spoiling the aesthetic qualities of the hole – while around the tee complex, there were extensive areas of weed trees which were completely out of character to a links golf course.

Construction work was handled by DAR Golf, who began working on the course in October 2018.

“Trees have been removed, and dunes constructed from the tee complex up to the dogleg point of the hole,” said Westenborg. “The range is now completely hidden from view and combined with the removal of the trees, the eighteenth has been transformed into a true links golf hole framed with dunes left and right.

“We also lowered some dunes on the left so that from the tee, the previous semi-blind nature of the tee shot was improved to the point where the existing fairway bunker on the right became visible providing a clear target from the tee.

“The source of material for the new dunes stemmed from the formation of ‘sand scrapes’. This involved removing the sand to a depth where in the winter the higher water table was exposed, while in the summer the sand remains dry, effectively forming what are known as dune slacks. The golf course is a SSSI [Site of Special Scientific Interest] and this concept was recommended by Natural England to improve upon the natural ecological elements of the golf course.

“These areas were left as sand to be allowed to vegetate naturally. The new dunes were vegetated using a process called ‘slabbing’ – taking blocks of marram grass from elsewhere on the golf course and transplanting them on the dunes. This gave the work an instantaneous mature look.”

The granite path from the eighteenth’s tee to approach was replaced with a four-metre wide grass path, a ryegrass/fescue mix with rootzone and irrigation.

The project also included changes to bunkering on three holes, in line with the club’s long-term plan to reduce bunkering on the course.

“We removed three bunkers around the first green, re-profiled the seventeenth green surrounds, including the removal of two bunkers, and we removed a greenside bunker on the eighteenth, forming a swale in its place,” said Westenborg.

Construction work was completed in mid-February and the club is hoping to reopen the three holes by the end of April.