Golf Course Architecture - Issue 63, January 2021

76 is heavy Kentish Wealden clay, this was obviously a major problem. “The design on top was very good but below the surface it struggled,” says Tarchetti. The new owners realised very quickly that the course needed significant investment if it was to realise its considerable potential. Most especially, fixing the drainage was obviously essential. So they signed up for a large rebuilding project that has occupied most of 2020. The works at Chart Hills are remarkable for their scale; not quite on the level of the work we profiled last year at Loch Lomond GC (which is roughly the same age as the Kentish course, and coincidentally was another high-profile big budget design that was constructed without adequate drainage), but pretty amazing because they have been handled basically in-house. Course manager Lowther has acted as project manager, and his team has taken care of a massive trenching effort, adding 100mm perforated drainage pipe to every hole – across both fairways and especially wet areas of semi-rough – with a drain every five metres. After the trenching crew had finished their work on a hole, contractor and shaper Ian Stevens moved in and removed the top two and a half inches of soil, which was not good material and by that time basically just thatch: course manager Lowther says: “There was basically no topsoil on the course; respread during the original build was minimal. The only way forward was to strip the fairways off and start again.” Stevens then capped the fairways with four inches (100mm) of sand. A total of 32,000 tonnes of sand was spread on the course to complete the project – Tarchetti says that getting so much material through the Kentish lanes to the site and then across the course to the individual holes was one of the toughest parts of the whole job! Once Stevens had done his work, a seperate contractor, hired to do the finishing, came in to seed the new fairways. A creeping strain of dwarf ryegrass was used, chosen for its hard-wearing, drought and disease- resistant characteristics, and the fact that it produces less thatch than the original bentgrass fairways. From the trenching team leaving a hole to the seed going down took between ten and 14 days, and Tarchetti says that the new grass germinated rapidly and created a carpet of green across the sandy surface within a couple of weeks. Mowing started quickly, initially at a height of 25mm, with a goal height Photo: GMS Golf Fairways on the Kent layout have been capped with four inches of sand, as seen here on the fifteenth