A look at recent course renovation projects

By Alistair August 11, 2020 07:32 Updated

Numerous course renovation projects were scheduled to take place this year and, despite the lockdown and the subsequent boom in golf, many still went ahead, albeit not without difficulties.

Golf in 2020 has not been entirely lockdown followed by the boom. Some courses have gone ahead with major course renovation works, of which many were started before courses closed in March.

Just three are detailed here.

Aboyne Golf Club, the oldest club on Royal Deeside, revamped its sixth hole, which reopened to members at the end of May.

It was a project that started before the lockdown but was far from completed when all golf courses closed and many staff were furloughed.

Head greenkeeper Colin Forbes explained: “We were certainly challenged to get this project completed. A lockdown of key equipment and supplies meant we had to constantly adjust our planning and timeline, but I am delighted with the outcome.

“Previously players from the tee box who sliced their shot to the right were not really penalised. Their ball usually landed at the base of the trees and was playable. However, some of these roots were exposed and we considered this dangerous to players, so we decided to reshape the hole. Having gained a license from the Forestry Commission, we set about the work and felled 23 trees comprising spruce and other hardwood. Removing the trees has altered the sixth hole and now offers little protection for a player wayward off the tee. We slightly adjusted the contour of the surrounding ground so that the land falls away to the loch. After tidying up the bankside and raising the canopy of the remaining trees it now offers a real challenge to players to avoid the water.”

Greens convenor David Munro added: “This has been a planned major project as part of our ongoing tree management programme. We have wanted to do this for a few years as we continue to enhance the course. We started over the winter months but the onset of the coronavirus outbreak meant we went into lockdown and had to furlough some of our greens staff part way through the project. It is down to the exceptional hard work and dedication of Colin that we were able to complete this project in time for our reopening.“

The Grove in Watford has completed a renovation and redesign project that has seen major enhancements to every bunker on its 18-hole championship golf course.

The greenkeeping team at The Grove, in partnership with the original course architect, his shaping specialist and a contractor, have revitalised all 90 bunkers across the golf course, enhancing playability and aesthetics on each one.

The work was undertaken across an intensive 10-week period which was completed just before the lockdown started. It saw the team re-address bunker shaping, repair damaged edges, review grassing lines and re-affirm mown and natural areas surrounding each trap.

The golf course, which continues to feature in many ‘Top 100’ rankings, stayed open for play during the whole process, with three holes being worked on at any one time with a temporary green being used on each, while ground staff undertook the necessary work.

Phill Chiverton, golf course manager at The Grove, said: “A project of this scale, and over such a relatively short period of time, took a huge amount of planning, resources, machinery and turf in order to be completed successfully, and on time.

“Our team worked on an average of 1.8 bunkers a day which is incredible, considering the adverse winter weather conditions we experienced.”

In addition to the bunker transformation work, a new tee has been constructed on the fifth hole, and a 200m2 extension has also been added to the putting green which lies adjacent to the first tee.

And a golf club in Kent decided to close down for a major refurbishment project just a few weeks after golf courses reopened.

The owner of Chart Hills Golf Club, Ramac Holdings, led by James Cornish and Anthony Tarchetti, have been working tirelessly on a strategy that will see the extensive redevelopment and improvement of the entire 250 acre property.

Last month the golf course closed to allow green staff and contractors to work seamlessly to complete work on all 18-holes with the renovated Nick Faldo Design course ready for play at the start of the 2021 golf season or sooner if growing conditions are favourable.

The first steps taken to elevate the visual and playing aspects of the course include extensive irrigation and sand-capping to the fairways with over 20,000 tonnes of sand. Once seeded, grown and manicured, the new fairways will enable members, guests and visitors to enjoy improved playing surfaces year-round.

During this period, Chart Hills will also be making large-scale changes to the remainder of the facility including a purpose-built driving range, upgraded short game area, additional practice putting green and a refurbished clubhouse.

“It is extremely exciting to see this project get underway”, said Anthony Tarchetti. “The investment that we are making is significant. It is going to take time, but we are confident that the end result will cement Chart Hills’ place among the best golfing destinations in the south east.”

In order to ensure the most efficient return to regular golf for members and guests, it was decided that all 18 holes should remain closed until the point of completion, shaving an entire year off the original projected completion date. Initial work is underway on the front nine holes with the back nine set to be completed by winter to allow for a significant period of growth prior to the scheduled reopening.


By Alistair August 11, 2020 07:32 Updated

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