Upgrades for two European golf courses

By Alistair April 3, 2023 09:54

Two of Europe’s leading golf courses have undergone major upgrades, including the introduction of drought tolerant grasses and the installation of 23 miles of irrigation pipes, to help combat a changing climate.

Two of mainland Europe’s finest golf resorts have embarked on major course upgrades recently.

The Club at Castiglion del Bosco, Tuscany – Italy’s only private golf club – has been extended and enhanced in a project that started this winter.

In the year the 2023 Ryder Cup comes to Italy, a multi-million euro investment is seeing the course lengthened to 7,500 yards.

The 18-hole championship course, designed by the late Tom Weiskopf in partnership with Phil Smith, is seeing:

• New back tees lengthening the course to 7,500 yards

• The restoration of the bunkers to their original shape with new bunker liner

• More than 135,000 metres of new drainage installed for year round play

• The introduction of drought tolerant grasses

• An increasing of native grass areas for environmental sustainability

• Improved, targeted irrigation for water efficiency

• An upgraded practice range, with expanded tees and targets.

The work is being overseen by Phil Smith, with construction company Atlantic Golf and golf course consultancy company Turfgrass, which oversaw the transformation of the 2027 Ryder Cup venue at Adare Manor, Ireland.

Phil Smith said: “Our objective has always been to make Castiglion del Bosco the finest golf experience in Italy.

“As with all great courses, it is important to continue to invest and evolve and that is what we are doing, by extending the course to professional tournament length and ensuring world class playing conditions all year round and resilience in a changing climate.”

He said the course, which features a closed drainage system, reusing irrigation water and capturing run off, remains one of the most sustainable he and Tom Weiskopf had designed in 20 years of working together.

“The new turf variations and improvements to the closed drainage system, will ensure the traditional Tuscan style and sustainable roots remain an integral part of the course design and ensure The Club at Castiglion del Bosco continues to be regarded as one of the top courses in Italy.”

Famously, Tom Weiskopf added a short 19th hole, The Brunello Hole, where members and residents can settle matches and play for a Magnum of Brunello di Montalcino from the estate’s prestigious winery.

David Waters, general manager of The Club at Castiglion del Bosco, said: “Our course overlooks the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO protected landscape, and is rightly recognised as one of the finest private courses in Europe.

“As Tom Weiskopf’s only golf course design in Europe, we are committed to continually maintaining and improving the course in the way he envisioned, with sustainability at the forefront of our long-term plans. We are delighted to welcome back Phil Smith, to lead the work and help realise our shared ambitions for The Club to be seen as one of the very best golf courses in the world.

“As golfers come from all over the world to visit Italy for the 2023 Ryder Cup, we look forward to welcoming guests and discerning golfers to experience Tom Weiskopf’s Tuscan masterpiece, extended and enhanced for the next decade.”

Meanwhile, DP World Tour star Ricardo Santos took time out from his busy playing schedule earlier this year to help Clube de Golf Santo da Serra in Madeira mark the completion of a €2.5 million irrigation project that has helped to make the course a golf pioneer and model for water management.

Portuguese ace Santos joined a group of club officials, members and local dignitaries who gathered at the 27-hole venue to celebrate the official inauguration of the new state-of-the-art irrigation system that will monitor a pipe network of around 23 miles – and will help to reduce the club’s water consumption by nearly two thirds.

As part of its water conservation programme, Santo da Serra has installed 237 new valves and another 61 electro valves across the different playing areas of its three nine-hole layouts over the last 18 months, which will be managed by 240 stations located on the course. Monitored by 17 satellites, they will not only detect a leak in real time but also collect data related to meteorological conditions and the amount of water used in each irrigation.

With the club now having been able to strategically place its 1,297 sprinklers across its three courses – the Machico, the Desertas and the Serras – it has managed to dramatically reduce the area that needs irrigating to just 15 hectares, with the amount of water needed going from 2,200m³ to 868m³.

In addition, Santo da Serra has completed the renovation of four on-course lakes that it uses for irrigation, including increasing the capacity of its largest lake by 17,000m³ to 28,000m³ by capturing the venue’s annual rainfall. It is estimated that the combined capacity of the lakes is now around 40,000m³, a volume that will reinforce the storage capacity of the Lagoa do Santo system.

And it’s not just golfers and visitors that will benefit from the eco-project, with the system also providing for the provision of water for firefighting operations by civil protection helicopters and, in extreme conditions, the supply to farmers in neighbouring municipalities.

Ricardo Abreu, general manager at Clube de Golf Santo da Serra, said: “We have a duty to all our members and guests to deliver the best playing experience possible and we weren’t able to do that with the previous system that was old and badly out of date.

“The new irrigation will transform the way that we operate on a day-to-day basis. Everyone at the club is enormously proud of the work that has taken place and we believe our integrated remote management system will set the benchmark for clubs seeking a smarter, more efficient solution to golf course irrigation.”


By Alistair April 3, 2023 09:54

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