The global journal of golf design and development I SSUE 75 JANUARY 2024
The Art and Science of Golf Course Architecture Nara Binh Tien Golf Club – Vietnam USA +1-707-526-7190 • email@example.com • www.golfplan.com Golfplan
1 WELCOME ADAM LAWRENCE Is signature design dead? When GCA first published in 2005, many courses being built at the time were done by ‘signature’ architects. The term originated with Robert Trent Jones Sr, whose advertising told potential clients that they should “give their course a signature”. In an environment in which golf architects had become anonymous, a ‘name’ architect would make the course more desirable. But, as more architects came back into the public eye, that concept became increasingly irrelevant, and ‘signature’ came to indicate a celebrity course designer, usually a high-profile professional golfer. Today, the business is rather different. There are a lot fewer courses being built than at the turn of the century and there are not as many real estate driven developments. But still, Arnold Palmer is dead, and his company (as discussed in the last issue of GCA) has ceased to exist. Jack Nicklaus is 83; Nicklaus Design still exists, but he does not own it any more, and it has transformed from a vehicle for Jack into a more conventional design company. Gary Player is 88, and his design firm’s website says its process involves a “senior designer working hand-in-hand with Gary”. Greg Norman and Nick Faldo’s companies are still active, and Tiger Woods Design remains a force, but lead designer Beau Welling does more work under his own name than he does for Tiger. This issue’s interview subject, Jeremy Slessor of European Golf Design is as well qualified as anyone to speak on the signature design market. From being almost entirely a signature operation in its early years, EGD has not now done such a project in a considerable time. Slessor says that, in his opinion, clients have realised that the expenditure on a signature designer is marketing budget that might be spent in other, more productive ways. The signature design model is not dead, but it seems largely to be a thing of the past.
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Golf Course Architecture by Caspar Creating and Refining Classics of the Game Tel. +45 26143434 - email@example.com www.bycasper.com “I design courses with a strong passion for getting the absolute best posible solutions for my clients and the players enjoying them. My mission is to develop golf courses with a clear and unique style that enables the clubs to attract more players.” Caspar Grauballe President EIGCA
5 Golf Course Architecture is published with the support and guidance of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, and GEO Foundation. In 2023, the EIGCA presented Golf Course Architecture with its Harry Colt Award, which recognises outstanding contributions to golf or golf development. Contributing Editor Adam Lawrence News Editor Richard Humphreys Editorial team Alice Chambers Contributors Brad Klein, Arthur Little Design Bruce Graham, Libby Sidebotham, Dhanika Vansia Publisher Toby Ingleton Publication & Sales Manager Benedict Pask Production Manager Stuart Fairbrother Website Development Chris Jackson Circulation Ritwik Bhattacharjee Subscribe www.golfcoursearchitecture.net/subscribe Photography All Golf Services, Apogee, Big Cedar Lodge, David Blum, Cabot Saint Lucia, Bill Davidson, EGD, Escalante Golf, James Edwards, Durabunker, Dustin Gilder, Golf Design India, Harradine Golf, Harris Kalinka, Bill Hornstein, iStock, Portmore Golf Park, Josef Potter Golf, King-Collins, Larry Lambrecht, Greg Letsche, Losby Golf Club, Mandarina, Momentum Golf Photography, Karima Mohamed, Kevin Murray, Nicklaus Design, Parkland Golf and Country Club, Pasatiempo Golf Club, Pete Dye Archives, Piza Golf, David Pugh, R&A, Stefan von Stengel, Toro, Tyler Rae, Rees Jones Inc, (re)GOLF, Royal Long An Golf & Villas, Dave Sansom, Schmidt-Curley Design, Jacob Sjoman, Sports Turf Solutions, Toptracer PEFC Certi ed This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources www.pefc.org PEFC/16-33-576 Published by Tudor Rose Tudor House, 6 Friar Lane Leicester LE1 5RA Tel: +44 116 222 9900 www.tudor-rose.co.uk ISSN 1745-3585 (print) ISSN 2754-9828 (online) Printed in Great Britain by Micropress Printers. © 2024 Tudor Rose Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be stored or transmitted or reproduced in any form or by any means, including whether by photocopying, scanning, downloading onto computer or otherwise without the prior written permission from Tudor Rose Holdings Ltd. Views expressed in Golf Course Architecture are not necessarily those of the publishers. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply official endorsement of the products or services concerned. While every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of content, no responsibility can be taken for any errors and/or omissions. Readers should take appropriate professional advice before acting on any issue raised herein. The publisher reserves the right to accept or reject advertising material and editorial contributions. The publisher assumes no liability for the return of unsolicited art, photography or manuscripts. It is assumed that any images taken from sources which are widely distributed, such as on the Web, are in the public domain. It is recognised though that since such images tend to be passed freely between sources it is not always possible to track the original source. If copyrighted material has ended up being treated as public domain due to the original source not being identified please contact the publisher, Tudor Rose.
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8 CONTENTS REPORT 66 Brian Silva and NMP Golf Construction have worked to return Seth Raynor character to Metairie Country Club in Louisiana. Cover photograph by: Larry Lambrecht TEE BOX 10 Our Tee Box section opens with news of a match play course that King-Collins is creating for the new 21 Club in the Carolina Sandhills. INSIGHT 37 Arthur Little reports on his research into how courses should be designed to enable golfers with slow swings to enjoy the game. FEATURE 40 Golf remains dominated by middle aged and older players. So, how should the sport go about attracting young people to play, and what role does course design play in that? Adam Lawrence investigates.
9 INTERVIEW 48 For almost 30 years, Jeremy Slessor has run European Golf Design, one of the largest operations in the industry. He speaks with GCA about his career, particularly at EGD, which now has a portfolio of over 70 projects in 24 countries. REPORTS 70 South Carolina’s Florence County hopes the Wellman renovation by Rees Jones will spur economic growth. 74 Construction of a luxury golf destination, featuring a 27-hole design by Brian Curley, is under way in Indonesia. 76 Greg Letsche gives individual holes a stronger sense of identity at the Parkland club in south Florida. GCSAA SHOW 78 With the golf course industry preparing for the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Phoenix, GCA highlights some of the businesses to check out if you are attending. HOLING OUT 92 We close the issue by taking a look at a new nine that is designed to offer a distinctly different repeat play. ON SITES 54 The coastline north of Ireland’s capital has another serious golfing player in the shape of Jameson Golf Links. 60 Brad Klein travels to south Florida to visit Apogee Club, where the first of its three courses has now opened.
TEE BOX Bold vision for new club in the Carolina Sandhills King-Collins will create a match play course for 21 Golf Club, which is also planning to resurrect a lost MacKenzie layout. 10
King-Collins has been hired to design a new golf course on a dramatic site in the Sandhills of South Carolina. The invitation-only, private 21 Golf Club will be built 15 miles from the city of Aiken on a rumpled landscape where sand dunes reach more than 150 feet high. There will be two courses, one designed by King-Collins, and a second that is at the planning stage. “The topography and boldness of the land is unrivalled in the region,” said Tad King. “We are beyond excited to deliver bold, fun golf for Americans and others abroad to enjoy for many decades to come.” Rob Collins said: “Nearly two years ago, owner Wes Farrell, Tad and I toured a number of sites across the southeast. Some were better than others, but nothing exceptional. Towards the end of a long day of fruitless exploration, we found ourselves on a rural road in Jackson, South Carolina. As Wes’s car climbed a hill, it was impossible not to notice the sand spilling onto the road. Once on top of the hill, we gazed out on an impossibly 11 Image: Harris Kalinka A visualisation of the striking King-Collins design for the new 21 Golf Club near Aiken, South Carolina
12 beautiful site of rollicking sandy terrain. “A few ‘no trespassing’ signs later and we were standing in the middle of it, loudly wondering how this place existed. Thanks to Wes’s ingenuity and dogged determination, he was able to secure the site, but that was just the beginning. After 18 months of site analysis, routing tweaks and hard work, we’re ready to show the world 21 Golf Club.” The first layout to be built is The Hammer, named after the match play game format. According to King and Collins, the Hammer course will demand boldness, creativity and skilful execution from players. The designers are aiming to create “thrilling challenges and endless possibilities” for every hole. Their plans also include an additional, and reversible, three holes to decide matches not settled during the traditional 18-hole round. The second course will be based on the original plans that Alister MacKenzie drafted in 1930 for the El Boquerón course in Argentina. MacKenzie’s course was to be located on Enrique Anchorena’s estate in the coastal city of Mar del Plata with 18 holes playing to nine double greens, but it was never built. Planning for the MacKenzie course will begin once the Hammer layout is complete. “Opportunities of this stature are precious few,” said Collins. “The land upon which 21 Golf Club sits is a geologic anomaly in the southeastern United States. The combination of the boldness of the terrain with its deep, sandy soils and the seemingly endless and uninterrupted views offer a rare tapestry for our team. We plan to deliver one of the most exceptional and distinctive experiences in American golf.” “ Opportunities of this stature in the world of golf course architecture are precious few” In addition to the match-play focused Hammer course (Blue numbers), the 21 Club is planning to recreate Alister MacKenzie’s innovative layout for the El Boquerón course in Argentina, which was never built TEE BOX Image: King-Collins
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14 Photo: Cabot Saint Lucia ‘One-of-a-kind’ Point Hardy opens at Cabot Saint Lucia TEE BOX Cabot Saint Lucia has opened a new Coore & Crenshaw design at Point Hardy Golf Club on the northern tip of the Caribbean island. The 18-hole layout has been built along one-and-a-half miles of coastline. Nine of the holes – six to nine and fourteen to eighteen – play directly on the rocky cliffs that jut into the ocean. The course is grassed entirely with Pure Dynasty seeded paspalum from Pure Seed and Atlas Turf International. “It’s very possible that Cabot Saint Lucia is the most visually stunning piece of land we have ever worked with,” said Coore. “This project was truly a labour of love, and the initial feedback on this enchanting property as one of the world’s most sought-after golf destinations is special to Ben and me.” The final four holes feature carries over a series of bays. The fifteenth is a 340-yard par four which requires a water carry from the tee. Back-to-back par threes follow, the sixteenth just 138 yards over a cove and the seventeenth close to 190 yards to a green that sits above a rocky inlet. The final hole is a par four that curves along the coastline.
15 Photo: All Golf Services Vijit Nandrajog of Golf Design India has completed a renovation of the golf course at Rambagh Golf Club in Jaipur, India. “In the initial phase, our focus centred on revitalising 11 holes,” said Nandrajog. “The enhancements comprised a complete redesign of green complexes, new bunkering and new tees. Our team also implemented modifications and extended the irrigation system for those 11 holes as well. “Given the course’s historical significance and its relatively shorter length by contemporary standards, our renovation prioritised accuracy over sheer length. Our commitment to offering golfers compact targets for their approach shots remains unwavering, even with the increased size of the greens.” GDI has elevated some greens to accentuate the demand for accuracy and skill, reinforcing the character of the golf course. “We deliberately eschew indiscriminate modernisation, opting instead to safeguard and enhance the fundamental qualities that define the course’s identity,” said Nandrajog. Unnecessary bunkers have been eliminated and relocated around green complexes, swales and runoffs around greens have been incorporated, and water has been added to make the parthree sixteenth more challenging. Karolinka extends course to 18 holes Karolinka Golf Park in Poland has completed a project to extend its course from nine to 18 holes, with course designer Grzegorz Marcinków and construction firm All Golf Services. “Our mission was not merely to construct the next nine holes at Karolinka, but to do so without disrupting the fauna and flora of the area,” said Lukasz Szadny of All Golf Services. “We aimed to fashion a parkland-style course that harmonises with the natural terrain, thus creating a stunning layout seamlessly integrated into its surroundings. Each hole should unfold as a unique adventure.” The project included the installation of a Rain Bird IC System for irrigation management and sustainable water usage. Golf Design India preserves course identity at Rambagh Photo: Golf Design India Karolinka’s second nine has been designed to sit in harmony with the natural terrain
17 Hansen and Himmel collaborate on Sylt redesign Architects Rolf-Stephan Hansen and Thomas Himmel are nearing completion of the redesign of Golf Club Sylt on the German island of Sylt. In early 2021, Hansen – a Sylt native who designed the Budersand course on the island in the mid-2000s – and Himmel were hired to create a masterplan that would improve safety and add more strategy. Josef Pötter Golf began construction in August 2021 – the project has been structured in three phases to minimise disruption to play and ensure all 18 holes remain accessible throughout the summer. Work is being overseen by site manager Steffen Kayser and is expected to be complete by spring 2024. Particular attention has been paid to greens, with work completed to improve their playability and many being expanded to create additional pin positions. The final phase includes a redesign of four holes, lake expansion, new tees to increase length and shot options, and installing a new Toro irrigation system. “Expanding lakes and introducing a new drainage concept aims to help address the club’s water management and increase its water preservation,” said Darryl Spelman of Josef Pötter Golf. “Fairway bunkers with a more modern and detailed approach – with regional seeds introduced – have also given the course some extra flair. “Over 25,000 square metres of fescue has been seeded in a specialised turf nursery and prepared over the past 12 months to be laid during this winter to help facilitate an early opening. Despite facing extreme weather conditions, we are happy that the project has been a success, We look forward to working with all involved as we continue to contribute to the ongoing evolution of the course”. TEE BOX Photo: Stefan von Stengel
18 TEE BOX THE BIG PICTURE The fifteenth hole on the new Coore and Crenshaw-designed The Chain course at Streamsong Resort in Florida, photographed by Bill Hornstein, which opened for preview play in December 2023. The fourth course at Streamsong, The Chain has 19 short holes with flexible teeing areas – the beginning and end of which are marked by dragline chains that give the course its name and are a relic of the site’s history as a phosphate mine. Players are encouraged to tee off from wherever they want within the chains, which on several holes will give the choice between a carry over a waste area or a ground-game shot that could be played with a putter. The Chain is walking-only and – like the new two-and-a-half acre putting course, The Bucket – located close to the entrance to the Streamsong Lodge. It has a sixhole loop of holes that range from 50 to 150 yards around a grove of oaks and then players move to a thirteen-hole loop where the longest hole – the eighth, visible in the background of this image – can be played at almost 300 yards. “When you take strength and length out of the equation, golf becomes much more fun for a vastly expanded group of players,” said Coore. “And from an architectural perspective, we can do more interesting things, particularly on the greens and around the greens.”
Soluptatis ea ilignie nducid modi odi dolum vendem esciant harumenetUptatia vidit etur, optatem porion et queitius erundae rsperum quostrum que audigenisci si recus Photo: Bill Hornstein 19
20 Golf Club de Campagne near Nîmes in southern France has reopened following a renovation by Harradine Golf. “In 1966, my father Don was asked to alter a previous design at Campagne by another architect,” said Peter Harradine. “Unfortunately, some of the corridors in the woods had already been cut, which made it impossible to change the routing among the oak trees that typify that beautiful region next to the famous Camargue nature park. Despite the constraints, my father managed to redesign the layout into one that is still considered one of the top courses in France.” In 1968, and working alongside his father, Peter designed the new greens and supervised the construction of the complete course. “It was a year I will never forget, due to the political unrest in the country at the time,” he said. “Despite the various strikes and difficulties in obtaining machinery, fuel and personnel, we managed a grand opening in September 1970.” Peter adds that Campagne has since seen 14 club presidents and even more green committees, which have only made very minor changes to the layout without consulting the Harradines. “This is unlike many other clubs that usually add useless bunkers that do not comply with the spirit of the original design,” he said, referencing an article he wrote for the April 2020 issue of GCA. But in 2017, 47 years after the Harradines last worked at the club, Peter was contacted by club president Thierry Penchinat and committee member Eric Daguzon to discuss a renovation. “The welcome I received during my ensuing visits reflected the bonhomie associated with that part of the country,” said Harradine. “I asked them, ‘Why me?’ They replied, ‘We want continuity! Your father redesigned the course and you built it, so who else?’” Peter, now working with his son Michael, developed a masterplan, outlining the scope of work, phases and budget. “The most difficult task for a golf course architect is upgrading an existing layout,” said Peter. “There are 600 members… and therefore 600 golf course architects! Seeing as my father let me design the greens at Campagne, I asked Michael to design the new ones.” The brief from Campagne included an instruction not to change the style of the putting surfaces. “The upgrade was to change the push-up greens to 100 per cent sand, in order to ease maintenance and increase putting speeds,” said Peter. “Michael did however add a few new features.” Campagne returns to the Harradines for renovation TEE BOX
21 October’s issue saw Sandy paying a visit to Dr Alister MacKenzie’s lovely Cavendish course in Buxton, in the north of England. Built in the early 1920s for the Duke of Devonshire (whose family name is Cavendish), the course was mostly ignored for years, principally because its back tees stretched only just over 5,700 yards. After enthusiastic championing by the likes of Tom Doak, though, it has been accepted for what it is, a wonderful little example of MacKenzie’s genius, and a fixed feature in lists of Britain’s best courses. The par-four tenth, where Sandy was photographed, lies at the bottom of the course, and is one of the best holes on the course. Andrew Oliver, a member of St Anne’s Old Links, spotted the hole and wins the coveted GCA shirt. For this issue, Sandy is pictured at one of England’s hidden gems, so a clue is probably in order. The course was originally laid out by Cecil Hutchison and more recently, as the club approached its 100th anniversary, Ken Moodie oversaw bunker remodeling work. GOPHER WATCH Photo: Karima Mohamed Temporary greens were prepared on each hole a year before work began, so that the course would not need to close. “The temporary greens were excellent due to timely verticutting, rolling and overseeding,” said Peter. French firm Green Art handled construction, with Spain-based Turfgrass Agronomy & Services overseeing some technical aspects of the renovation project, which was supervised by the club’s head greenkeeper Vincent Pigeyre. The new greens were opened for member play on 1 September 2023. “Due to the fact that Michael designed the new greens, Penchinat insisted that he play in the opening competition to test them out,” said Peter. “Furthermore, he declared that Michael would definitely be back in 25 years’ time to supervise the other changes that we suggested in the masterplan!” Royal Long An Golf & Villas, near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, has opened an 18-hole golf course by Faldo Design. A nine-hole layout at the resort is also under construction. Work on the 18-hole design, which can be played from 5,424 to 7,233 yards, began just prior to the closure of international travel in 2020. The layout includes a lake system that captures storm and rainwater for irrigation and is in play as a hazard on many holes. Construction of the third nine – which the club says will be a tougher test than the first 18, with water more in play – is expected to start in 2024. Photo: Royal Long An Golf & Villas Faldo course opens near Ho Chi Minh City
Q&A with Caspar Grauballe “ The new greens will be smaller targets. However, with updated bunkering and runoff areas, the course will be more strategic” Caspar Grauballe explains how he is helping Norway’s Losby Golf Club withstand climate issues. Losby Golf Club in Norway has appointed Danish architect Caspar Grauballe to create a new driving range and renovate green complexes to cope better with climate challenges. Losby sees long, dry spells in spring and early summer, with heavy rains becoming more frequent in autumn and early winter. There are large fluctuations in temperature in winter, and ice regularly forms on greens. With extreme weather conditions seeming more common, the club decided to act. We spoke with Caspar about the project. What challenges has the club faced? The existing greens were constructed at a time where the focus in Norway on both surface and sub-surface drainage was less than it should have been. The consequence is that large volumes of water would run directly onto greens, not helped by the lack of drainage underneath the sandbased rootzone. This is especially problematic in winter when snow is on the ground, and we get thawing temperatures during the day, and it freezes during the night – the water 23 Photo: Losby Golf Club TEE BOX
25 Photo: Losby Golf Club The new greens have been designed with several runoff points to move water off them as quickly as possible gets trapped on the putting surfaces and turns to ice. The greens are very large, which means that water has a long distance to travel to get off the putting surface. Also, we have a very limited number of pesticides and chemicals available for maintaining the greens and it looks like restrictions will be further tightened in future. To maintain the course in a sustainable fashion, the design and construction must take this into consideration. How will you address this? The new greens will be designed to ensure no water will run onto them from the surrounds and there will be several runoff points to move water away from the green surfaces as quickly as possible. Making greens smaller will also reduce the distance water has to travel. Some of the greens have also been moved to get them out of shaded areas to give the grass better conditions to grow. From a playing perspective, the new greens will be smaller targets. However, with updated bunkering and runoff areas, the course will be more strategic. The new greens and updated bunkers and surrounds offer more diversity of challenge. Great care has been taken to open the approaches to greens so players with slower swing speeds can roll their ball on. I have revamped the aprons to facilitate more variation in the shots played from the surrounds, but also to make the visual impact of the greens suit the surrounding landscape. The real challenge for me as an architect is to combine the practical and agronomic aspects with aesthetics and playability. Since the course was built in the 1990s, a lot has happened to the game. Future phases include matching the fairway bunkering to the new greens design as well as updating tees. They will be realigned to improve the playing experience and new forward tees will be added. What will you start with? The driving range is the first phase, due to it suffering from very wet conditions, making it impossible to keep it open. The new range will feature a new drainage system as well as being sandcapped, so it can be kept open as long as there is no snow. Work on greens will mean parts of the course will be closed for play. To make it less painful for the players, the range will be updated with target greens and the club is also investing in Trackman technology to help create the best possible practice conditions. The club already has traditional putting greens and a synthetic putting green to allow players to practice their short game as soon as possible in the spring. TEE BOX
26 TEE BOX Tyler Rae has completed a project to restore William Langford and Theodore Moreau’s style at Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Iowa. “The restoration focused on addressing Wakonda’s infrastructure and reclaiming the original architectural design,” said Aaron Krueger, the club’s director of golf. “We had five newish greens built to USGA specification that were maintained differently to the original 13 greens, which have native soil push-up subsurface. Our recent work has seen those five greens returned to the same style as the rest of the course.” Over 20,000 square foot of sod was taken from the five rebuilt greens and used to expand the other 13 putting surfaces. Rae has taken inspiration from Langford and Moreau’s work at Culver Academies in Indiana, as well as Lawsonia Links and West Bend in Wisconsin. “Our work on greens has also brought back thoughtful green shapes, perimeters and boldly scaled fill pads, which is a departure from the rounded, egg-shaped smaller greens that once existed,” said Rae. “Greens will no longer be a one-dimensional, monotonous affair. “Players will now be faced with less demanding, wider playing corridors off the tees and more demanding approach shots into greens. The wider playing corridors will help to reinstate angles and options. The angles will then need to be utilised to access backleft, front-left, back-right and frontright pin locations.” All 53 bunkers have been rebuilt, also to a Langford and Moreau style, and many that were grassed over or out of play have been reclaimed. “We have placed and shaped hazards and bunkers back to their original locations, fitting them into the hillsides and natural landforms for historical purposes,” said Rae. “We were fortunate to have land available to move, shift and rebuild tees with modern distances in mind. What was meant to be a tough carry distance or challenge 100 years ago will now once again be brought back into play for players of all skill levels from the respective teeing grounds.” New ‘L&M’ tees stretch the course to 7,160 yards, and new forward tees total 4,378 yards. The course is expected to reopen in May 2024. Wakonda Club COURSE BLUEPRINT Photo: David Blum Tyler Rae has rebuilt bunkers and greens closer to a Langford and Moreau style
27 Image: Tyler Rae Two existing greens have been removed and replaced with a Redan-style green similar to the second at Culver Academies Greenside bunkers at the restored fifth green – based on the sixth at Lawsonia Links – have been replaced with falloffs for more short-game options The project used a GPS scanner to recreate the original ninth green at Wakonda. The greenside bunkering has also been restored The ridge between the eleventh and fifteenth has been cleared to bring the dual bunker back into play Tee shots at the sixteenth that flirt with the creek will leave the best angle for hole locations on the right of the green, while drives to the right of the fairway will leave a blind second over the restored cross bunkers The seventeenth is inspired by West Bend’s ninth hole Rae has widened the approach to bring back the original ground game intent and recaptured lost hole locations on the green
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29 Chippenham completes bunker project Chippenham Golf Club in Wiltshire, England, has completed a bunker renovation and greens complex remodelling project, alongside bunker construction specialists Durabunker and architect Stuart Rennie, now of Pangaea Golf Architecture. “Durabunker had executed three phases prior to the 2023 project, all of which received widespread praise from the membership,” said Chippenham’s course manager Chris Sealey. “The bunkers they have produced have performed magnificently in the most extreme conditions.” The latest phase has involved renovating greenside bunkers – with Durabunker’s rubber crumb liner and synthetic edging – on three holes, and the redesign of the fourth and sixth green complexes. “There were issues with water retention, mainly due to the landscape surrounding the fourth green,” said Rhydian Lewis, owner at Durabunker. “There was also the added complication of an out-of-bounds fence and hedge coming within eight metres of the left side of the green. With the ground cambering from right to left, it was causing significant issues for golfers, particularly in the summer when the ground is firm and running. Shots that were landing in line with the green or even on the left side of the putting surface were sometimes finishing beyond the out-of-bounds line. With the additional complexity of this area and the remodelling of the sixth green, it was clear the involvement of an architect would enhance the chances of a successful outcome.” “Stuart’s vision and ideas resonated with us,” said Sealey. “We liked his hands-on approach and the synergy with Durabunker. The results have been beyond our expectations!” Rennie adds: “The project from start to finish worked out as planned.” Photo: Bill Davidson Drew Rogers has reshaped bunkers to bring them closer in style to when the course first opened in 1963 The Country Club of Naples in Florida has reopened for play following a six-month renovation by JDR Golf Design. The private course was designed by William Diddel in 1963. “Diddel fashioned a layout that is user-friendly and enjoyable,” said Drew Rogers of JDR Golf Design. “Revisions have been few, with some done over the years to address the ever-evolving game and to keep the course properly updated. “In 2020 we were asked to develop a plan for the practice facilities. Our plan had substantial impacts to adjacent holes that made the club reconsider their path. They decided to renovate their course along with the practice area.” Work has included reworking greens with classic contours, new tees, reshaping bunkers, regrassing, new irrigation, thinning vegetation and better connecting turf between holes. “The result is a new course with an ‘old Florida’ character that made it distinctive in the 1960s,” said Rogers. “With the classic lines and treatments, it may look older than that!” Rogers brings ‘old Florida’ feel back to CC of Naples TEE BOX Photo: Durabunker
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Photo: Sports Turf Solutions Blue Canyon regrasses Canyon course Blue Canyon in Phuket, Thailand, has regrassed its Canyon course. Work involved replacing tees and surrounds with Stadium Zoysia, fairways with Zeon Zoysia and greens with TifEagle bermuda. The new grass varieties will enhance the visual appeal of the course and provide better playing surfaces. “Blue Canyon is one of the latest golf facilities in Asia that will produce the best playing conditions while saving money by mowing less, fertilising less, almost eliminating all pesticides, and saving water,” said Brad Burgess of Sports Turf Solutions. “The vision of the club is demanding higher playing standards in order to raise the membership value, bring back major events and restore the prestigious Blue Canyon brand to its glory days.” A new 40-acre academy designed by James Edwards and Tim Lobb has opened at Somabay Golf Club in Hurghada, Egypt. It joins a nine-hole par-three layout designed by Edwards and Tim Lobb and an 18-hole course from Gary Player Design. “For the academy we had a relatively flat sand parcel with a high point in the middle and the facility running all the way around that high point,” said Edwards. “The short game has always been undersold and under-designed. We were lucky enough to be able to create a 5,000-square-metre green that could accommodate multiple zones – we have designed 27! The 360-degree nature of the facility is what’s important because each person can rotate around it like a clock.” Sombay selected Pure Dynasty from Atlas Turf International and Pure Seed for the short course and academy. “The grass has performed very well,” said Lobb. “Coverage is quite consistent and is not grainy. Putting on the Pure Dynasty is superb.” New academy unveiled in Egypt Blue Canyon has regrassed fairways with Zeon Zoysia, surrounds with Stadium Zoysia and greens with TifEagle bermuda TEE BOX Photo: James Edwards 31
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33 Rod Whitman and Keith Cutten of Whitman, Axland & Cutten (WAC Golf) have completed a renovation at Brantford Golf and Country Club near Hamilton, Canada. Established in 1879, Brantford is one of North America’s oldest clubs. In 1906, nine holes were laid out in the vicinity of the present course and, in 1923, the course was expanded to 18, designed by Nicol and Stanley Thompson and George Cumming. In the 1960s, the routing and several holes were altered by Robbie Robinson. The 2023 work comes 100 years after the course expanded to 18 holes. “Our goal was to take the club back to that early era when the firm of ThomsponCumming-Thompson were the designers,” said Cutten. The project has included work on the third, sixth, seventh, sixteenth and seventeenth greens, revamping all bunkers to a “classic, grassed-down look” and adding new forward and back tees. Fairway lines have also been straightened and expanded to reflect the original design, while drainage upgrades and a new irrigation system will help to improve maintenance. WAC Golf completes centennial project at Brantford Photo: David Pugh For the cover story of the latest issue of By Design magazine – produced for the American Society of Golf Course Architects by the team responsible for GCA – Drew Rogers, Jim Nagle, Nathan Crace and Mark Mungeam discuss how they balance a club’s desire to respect history while making the courses fit for the future. “Angles are paramount when working with a classic course,” said Jim Nagle of Forse Golf Design. “Expanding greens to the perimeter can recapture hole locations not utilised for many decades. Widening fairways and expanding greens does not translate into easier golf, rather it makes the round more interesting.” Rory Connaughton, greens chairman at Lancaster, said: “In the case of most Golden Age courses, the layout and club heritage are inextricably combined.” The Winter issue of By Design also includes an interview with Mike Benkusky and details of the 2023 ASGCA Environmental Excellence Awards. To download the latest issue and subscribe to By Design, visit www.asgca.org. “Angles are paramount when working with a classic course” GOOD READ TEE BOX
Escalante Golf unveils $100m Kelly Ranch project TEE BOX Tripp Davis is designing an 18-hole golf course for Kelly Ranch Golf Club, a new $100 million private club project situated southwest of downtown Fort Worth, Texas. A 2,400-acre community developed by Ryan Voorhees of Kelly Ranch Estates will include the 7,600-yard golf course, plus 2,500 custom homes, an elementary school and a high-end shopping and dining area. Davis is working with a 240-acre site, which features rugged rolling hills with creeks and stands of live oaks and cedar elms, and 200 feet of elevation change. “Our vision for Kelly Ranch is to redefine the golf market in north Texas and create a course that exudes excellence, thoughtful design and unparalleled scenery,” said David McDonald, president of operator Escalante Golf. “There will be no other private golf club in the downtown Fort Worth region that can match the challenge and natural beauty of Kelly Ranch. It is truly in a league of its own and will not only be the crown jewel in our property portfolio, but the crown jewel of Texas golf.” Kelly Ranch will be sandcapped and grassed with Stadium Zoysia. Greens will average 6,000 square feet and feature TifEagle Bermuda. For bunkers, Davis is planning a scallopededge design for seamless integration with the existing topography. The course will play up to 7,600 yards, with five sets of tees. 34
35 Norman short course to open in Mexico Greg Norman Golf Course Design has designed a short course for the Mandarina resort on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit stretch of the Pacific coast. The course, which is expected to be completed in 2025, will feature 10 par threes inspired by holes as seen at Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Pine Valley and Royal Melbourne. Holes will also have views of the Sierra de Vallejo mountain range. “The course at Mandarina will be unlike any other,” said Norman. “Each par three is an inspiration from some of the most iconic and classic courses from around the world, so playing it will produce a welcome sense of familiarity.” Photo: Escalante Golf Pizá Golf has designed a new short course for Club de Regatas Lima in Peru’s capital. The social and sports club commissioned the firm to design a layout based on the International Pitch and Putt Federation’s official distances and rules, so it could host the international circuit. “This is the first time an official pitchand-putt course has been recognised in the country,” said Agustin Pizá, founder of Pizá Golf. “We are so proud to be a part of golf history in Peru. The country held its inaugural tournament in December 2023.” Pizá brings pitch-and-putt to Peru Additional golf facilities include a 26-acre practice facility that comprises a 400-yard driving range, short-game area with practice bunkers and chipping and putting greens, and a short course. The clubhouse will have an elevated outdoor terrace to provide views over the course and surrounding terrain. Earthworks are under way, with Escalante Golf expecting to complete work by spring 2025. A limited number of founder memberships have already been released. Photo: Piza Golf Photo: Mandarina
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ARTHUR LITTLE INSIGHT S even years have passed since I wrote an article for the January 2016 issue of Golf Course Architecture about the design implications of providing proportional tee yardages to fit golfers with differing swing speeds. The premise is that proportionally positioned tees allow golfers across the swing speed spectrum to use the same or very similar clubs for their approach shots. The concept is supported by data from testing done by Gene Parente at Golf Laboratories. The testing data shows a considerable difference in the ball flight characteristics of golfers with driver swing speeds below 80mph. Their ball flights reach their peak height further from the landing spot; descend at a significantly shallower angle; have significantly less backspin upon landing; and have a considerably higher percentage of roll than shots from golfers with higher swing speeds. This is illustrated in the chart (right), which shows the difference between the seven-iron ball flight of the average woman with a driver swing speed of 65mph and the seven-iron ball flight of the average man with a driver swing speed of 95mph. With the slower swing, the total distance from roll is 12 per cent, compared to three per cent with the faster swing, caused by the combination of shallower landing angle and less backspin. I believe these factors should significantly impact golf course design. Forced carries, whether over greenside bunkers, water hazards (both streams and lakes) or any obstacle that crosses a hole, make the Arthur Little reports on his research into how courses should be designed to enable golfers with slow swings to enjoy the game. Design for all Swing speed 65mph 95mph Carry yards 93 152 Total yards 106 156 Peak height yards 14 34 Peak height as % of carry 59% 67% Descent angle 37 50 A sport of two halves Data by Gene Parente of Golf Laboratories, a leader in independent testing for the golf industry, shows the differences between the average female and male golfer when hitting a seven-iron shot 37
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game much more difficult, frustrating, less fun and more time consuming for the slower swing golfer. From the same yardage, the slower swing players must use a longer club to carry the ball to the green. However, as illustrated in the chart, even when using the same approach club, they are at a disadvantage as their shot often will not hold the green because it lands at the shallower angle with much less backspin. These players need an option to roll their approach shot on the putting green without clearing an obstacle. This often means designing a closely mown area which connects the fairway with the green through which they can bump and run a shot on to a portion of the green, even if it’s not directly at the flag. Cross obstacles, whether bunkers, berms or streams, require solutions that are more complex. At its simplest, position the forward tees so that the slower swing player can get their tee shot close enough to the obstacle so that their lower flying shot can clear it. It is important to not make them hit an extra ‘wasted’ lay-up shot, thereby effectively increasing the par of the hole. A more nuanced approach is to add risk/reward by placing the obstacle close enough so that the slower speed player has a chance to clear it, thus giving them a much shorter shot to the green. The goal of my thinking in these areas is always to make the game more enjoyable for all players and to make it more fun and comfortable for people new to the sport. Arthur Little would like to acknowledge the contributions of Jeff Brauer and Gene Parente for this article. Arthur and his wife Jann Leeming offer free advice to courses, he can be contacted by email at email@example.com. Photo: iStock/RichVintage 39 DISTANCE
40 The next generation DESIGNING FOR THE YOUNG Written by Adam Lawrence FEATURE The revival in golf since the pandemic has given the game a shot in the arm. But it remains dominated by middle aged and older players. How should golf go about attracting young people to play, and what role does course design play in that? Adam Lawrence investigates. The golf industry has long been extremely concerned about the ageing profile of the game’s participants. Go to any golf club, and you will surely see why: juniors are in short supply, young adults are also scarce, and even the middle-aged tend to be outnumbered by seniors. It has been obvious for many years that figuring out how to attract the next generation of golfers is a critical issue for the game’s prosperity in anything but the very short term. As is well known, participation in golf has jumped significantly since the Covid pandemic, and junior numbers have increased similarly. Figures from the National Golf Foundation show that in the US, the number of junior golfers increased by 36 per cent, or 900,000 people, between 2019 and 2022 (the biggest participation jump of any segment in the golf market). Clearly, this is a good start, but it is not, yet, enough to secure golf’s future. Does course design have a role to play in making the game more attractive to the young? The main obstacles that prevent people from taking up golf are well known, and they apply just as much, if not more, to young as they do to the old. The game is perceived by many as being too expensive, as taking too long and being harmful to the environment. It is clear that course design has plenty to say on all three of these factors. One way of dealing with them, at least in part, that has become increasingly popular of late is the construction of short courses, usually comprised exclusively of par threes, that can be played quickly and take up less space. But in practice, the short courses that have been built, much fun though they often are, has not done much to develop new golfers. This is principally because of their location: the short courses that have come about of late have, mostly, been constructed at either elite destination private clubs or high-end resorts, in both cases, principally to be used for a shorter round after the day’s main game has been finished. This they do very well indeed: Gil Hanse’s Wild Piglet course at Les Bordes in France, and the Coore & Crenshaw designed Sandbox at Sand Valley in Wisconsin are both examples of short courses that should make even
41 the most jaded golfer smile. But neither is ever likely to be populated by local kids just taking up the game. One shorter course that is directly aimed at new golfers is the Golf It! facility in Glasgow, Scotland, developed by the Royal & Ancient. It is located on what was previously the Letham Grange municipal course, one of five in the city, located in the (fairly rough and ready) east end of Glasgow. It is this part of town that was the venue for the notorious ‘Ice Cream Wars’ – in reality a series of turf wars between rival gangs of drug dealers in the 1980s. Golf It! has been designed by the Scottish resident, New Zealand-born architect Scott Macpherson. “Letham Grange had been a golf course for over a century, and probably hit its peak in the Sixties,” he says. “By the 21st century, though, it was ‘on its uppers’, not a great place to play. There had been no work on the trees for many years, some were dying, many were past their best. The place needed stewardship as much as redesign. When the R&A chose it as the venue for this initiative, it was probably about five minutes from being turned into housing.” The R&A’s objective in creating Golf It! was to provide a community-based facility to grow the game among people who had previously had no contact with golf. “People from non-golfing families find it difficult to find a route into the game. They’re not going to go to private clubs,” says Macpherson. “We needed it to be a really welcoming place, even if you were not here to play golf. The building has been designed to face the Hogganfield Loch, which is a very attractive lake, not the golf course. For the course itself, it has gone from 18 to nine holes, with only one par five, and I wanted to pick out the best of the existing hole corridors. You get a nice panorama of the city from the second tee. There are only seven bunkers, and the first is by the third green, so it is not too scary for beginners. But it is long enough to get an official handicap, so it’s a true on-ramp to golf. If you’ve never played before, you can come, get lessons, move onto the range and the short game area, and then the course. It is a broad-based pyramid.” Golf It! has a two-deck range facility with Toptracer technology, with music playing and is bookable by The R&A has created the Golf It! facility in Glasgow to provide the local community with easy access to golf Photo: R&A