International Golf Course Architects
The Castle, St Andrews
Sahara Kuwait Resort, Kuwait
The Montagu, Fancourt
Boulder Hills, Hyderabad
We are a firm of International
Golf Course Architects based in Scotland, the Home of Golf. Our team has over 20 years of experience working in all four corners of the world alongside many of the biggest names in the Industry. We have helped create what have become regarded as some of the best courses of the modern era. Our experiences have seen us develop golf courses on a variety of terrains, in different climates and in diverse cultural locations. We have consistently achieved high quality, building a legacy of acclaimed
sustainable golf courses,
Our flexible approach allows us work with a
range of budgets and tailor our methods to suit client’s aspirations. Our ambition is ultimately to exceed expectations. We want to enhance our unrivalled
reputation and with former clients such as Alan McGregor the
Chief Executive Officer of St Andrews Links Trust commenting that;“Paul did an outstanding job at The Castle Course. For 18 months he practically lived on the site and the result, voted the best new course in the world in 2008, was in no small measure due to his skill, his dedication and his determination. It was a real pleasure working with him and we continue to do so”.
we believe we are on the right path.
Contents 5 - Section 1 Selected Portfolio Highlights New Courses page
21 - Section 2 Selected Portfolio Highlights Renovations & Re-Models page
- Section 3
- Section 4
Philosophy & Methodology
- Section 5
- Section 6
Portfolio High ligh ts New Courses
ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND
Th e Castle Course Commissioned in 2003 to design the first
championship course at the
home of golf for over 100 years, Paul led the design team to transform a piece of flat farmland into the wild rugged landscape within which the Castle Course now sits. In this way the new course has
character and feels as though it is played through the landscape rather than being imposed upon it.
Leading the design team Paul was on site every day for two years, both designing and managing the construction team. Spending this amount of time on site allowed the team to form a close working relationship with the shapers. Each hole became an
adventure initially conceived in a ‘sand
whereby each hole and idea could quickly be modelled in the sand
before being built. The course opened in the Summer of 2008 and has received many accolades including
‘best new course’ from Golf Magazine and is ranked in the
Top 100 golf courses in the UK by both Golf World and Golf Monthly.
Mach rihanish Du nes By complete contrast the site for Machrihanish Dunes was an Architects
dream, a perfect links site in pristine condition. Almost too pristine as the highly protected – designated as a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSi). Paul led the design team through the lengthy planning entire site was
application, working closely with government authorities and the team’s
project ecologist to find a solution whereby the golf could coexist with the environment to mutual benefit. With the planning work starting in 2004 the project followed ‘The Castle’ into construction in 2007. The reduced team effectively built the course by hand
sensitively ‘tip toeing’ round the site, disturbing less than 2% of the
environment. The course opened in mid summer 2009 and has been well received in several golf magazines in both the USA and Europe, and ranked in the UK’s Top 100 Golf Courses by both Golf Monthly and Golf World magazines.
Following on from the Castle and Machrihanish Dunes Paul took the team to gWest, a parkland site set in the spectacular rural environment of Perthshire. Immediately adjacent to Gleneagles, the site has exceptional views to the surrounding hills. In contrast to the other courses a ‘heathland’ concept became the defining feature of the course. With some natural spectacular undulations as the base canvas, Paul set about building the course. By using the natural assets of the site and creating sympathetic landforms that mirror those created by nature the course to flow through the landscape. New water features were created to remove the unnatural straight edges resulting from years of farming and reinstated more natural meandering streams. At gWest Paul also had extra responsibilities, working as the ‘Main Contractor’ as well as designer. At the end of August 2009 Paul and the team completed the construction and seeding on budget and on schedule. The course remains on schedule for opening in 2011.
FANCOURT, SOUTH AFRICA
Th e Montagu
South Africa’s premier golf resort, and host of the 2003
matches, asked us to give the Montagu Course an extreme makeover. The
improved course retains its parkland beauty but now features
two entirely new holes, the par-4 first and par-5 ninth, as well as a number of other
significant upgrades across the golf course.
Fancourt’s owner, Dr. Hasso Plattner, shared our vision and commitment to bringing the Montagu, which was once ranked the No. 1 golf course in South Africa, back to its rightful place in the pantheon of this phenomenal country’s best golf courses. Opening in the Summer of 2005 the resulting course has was tested by Retief Goosen, his 66 proved the course is tougher but not too difficult.
Set in the East Bay Hills TPC Stonebrae, offers
sweeping vistas of San
Francisco Bay. The course offers residential community a direct connection to the surrounding countryside. Members of this private club will be tested by a layout that rises
along ridge tops and through ravines. Massive earthworks were required,
painstaking efforts have been taken to ensure finished course will fit right into its natural surroundings. however
The course has hosted a Nationwide tour event, ‘The 2010 Fresh Express Classic’ and was voted, Best New Courses of 2007 by Travel + Leisure Golf, November/December 2007 and Northern California’s Best New Course by LINKS Magazine, November/December 2007
With the dual role of assistant construction manger and design associate this was a great commission, the challenge was to build a
links layout amid
the lava fields. The clients, Charles Schwab and George Roberts, demanded a challenging course in the style of their
favourite courses in the U.K. and Ireland.
They wanted a course that contrasted with the resort golf found elsewhere on the Island. By deciding to use Paspalum from tee to green across the entire course we were able to create fast, demanding putting greens,
and choices; members of this private club enjoy the option to play low running bump-and-run shots instead of having to fly the ball to the flag. Set on the slopes of Mount Hualalai, the course incorporates
inherent in any fine links course. Add to that firm Paspalum turf grown atop sand and stiff sea breezes, and Nanea plays like a links course too. Nanea Golf Club has been rated in the World
top 100 and the USA top 50
courses by Golf Digest magazine.
Co. WICKLOW, IRELAND
stunning Irish setting. County breathtaking landscapes on the
A traditional parkland course in a Wicklow boasts some of the most
Emerald Isle, and we were proud to earn the commission from the Slazenger family (of the sporting goods empire) to create a second golf course on the estate. Presented with a rich canvas featuring views of both the Wicklow Mountains and the Irish Sea, we wove the layout over and through the soft,
contours, streams and ponds, ravines, and stately trees, maximizing the courseâ€™s abundant natural assets. In addition to designing the West
Course we also conceived an extra hole, which the club uses for both courses on occasions when maintenance is required on other holes, thus ensuring guests receive a full 18-hole experience. The West Course was ranked in the Top 10 new courses upon its opening.
Portfolio High ligh ts
Renovation & Re-Models
Hesketh G. C. Kimber Golf was asked to consult for the club in late 2009 to assist with course improvement work ahead of hosting the
in the summer of 2011.
Kimber Golf were initially
three new green integration with the
engaged to re-design and manage the construction of
complexes to improve surrounding terrain.
their design and
Two of these green complexes had previously been completely re-built but the design was not in keeping with the rest of the golf course and they had been constructed using poor materials meaning that the grass would not grow consistently. The third green complex had previously been altered by the committee members over the years and had lost its original
Kimber Golf has now completed these 3 green complexes ready for next years championship and continues to work with the club developing a rolling
5 year evolution plan
to be implemented in conjunction with the
committee and Head Greenkeeper.
East Lothian, Scotland
Longniddry G. C.
This course near Edinburgh, Scotland was originally laid out in 1921 by Harry
It has no par 5â€™s due to the tight nature of the site but continues to be
highly regarded alongside its more illustrious neighbours such as North Berwick and Muirfield. Over the years a number of different architects have worked on the course resulting in Coltâ€™s original design being diluted and Kimber Golf is working with the club to restore some of the key features of the original layout. Following a decision by the club to carry out a
full course review and
extensive renovations Kimber Golf have been asked to assist with this process to ensure that the originally intended
shot values are not lost during any
course improvements. We are also advising on the
style of bunkering
to be implemented
and are overseeing the construction, working with the greenkeeping team to
ensure the best results.
Our Team 27
Brought up on a diet of golf from an early age, Paul began learning about Golf Course Architecture before he realised it. Playing traditional ‘Links’ courses when on family holidays and classic heathland and parkland courses every daylight hour during his school summer breaks, he developed a deep passion for the game. During 3 years greenkeeping at his local course he gained an excellent practical background before he formalised his education by studying for an MA Hons degree at Edinburgh College of Art. This brought a new dimension to his understanding of the way natural elements combine to create a landscape, and therefore how to recreate believable
Initially working with the Case Golf Company in Florida and EGD in Europe Paul learnt the art of Golf Course Architecture. Joining David Kidd at DMK Golf Design in 2000, Paul honed his skills on the design and
construction of Powerscourt, a parkland course in Ireland before moving to Hawaii to oversee a links style project built on volcanic rock. Nanea Golf Club is now rated in the World top 100 and the USA top 50 courses by Golf Digest magazine. The success continued with commissions for the remodel of The Montagu course at Fancourt in South Africa, and design work and routings for TPC San Francisco Bay and Tetherow Golf Club both in the USA. This platform allowed Paul to be given the privilege of designing the latest course at The Home of Golf; The Castle Course in St Andrews. There followed two further acclaimed courses in Scotland; At Machrihanish Dunes, Paul led the negotiations for the successful development of the SSSI site to create a new Links course, and the exclusive gWest where Paul led both the design and the construction team.
Paul used these projects as his opportunity to launch his own design company, Kimber
Since setting up his own company Paul has continued to work with existing clients such as ‘St Andrews Links Trust’ as well as developing new relationships both in the UK and further afield. Paul is an member of both the EIGCA and the Scot AGCA
1997 – 2000 Case Golf Inc, Florida, U.S.A.
• TPC Stonebrae, California, USA Senior Associate Architect
• Royal Gorge, California, USA
Senior Associate Architect
• Lantana Hills W. Palm Beach FL
• Tetherow, Oregon, USA
Senior Associate Architect
• Palm Beach Gardens FL
• Nanea Golf Club, Hawaii USA
Senior Associate Architect and Assistant Construction Manager
2000 – 2009
DMK Golf Design Ltd England, U.K.
Projects Undertaken: • gWest, Gleneagles, Scotland
Lead Architect and Construction Manager
• Machrihanish Dunes Golf Course, Scotland Lead Architect and Construction Manager
• The Castle Course, St Andrews, Scotland
Lead Architect and Construction Manager
The Castle, St Andrews
• The Montagu, Fancourt, South Africa
Associate Architect and Assistant Construction Manager
• Durban Country Club, South Africa
Lead Architect for renovation work
• Gardegan, St Emillion, France Associate Architect
• Runkerry Bay, Portrush, Ireland Associate Architect
• Powerscourt, Eniskerry, Ireland Associate Architect
Machrihanish Dunes, Scotland
‘gWest’, Gleneagles, Scotland
2009 - Present
Projects Undertaken: • Delta Leisure Resorts
Principal - Scheme Design for new 9 hole project
• Penglai, China
Principal - Full Design & Masterplanning for new 18 hole project
• Dafeng, China
Principal - Full Design & Masterplanning for new 36 hole project
• Knockdow, Dunoon, Scotland
Principal - Planning application for new 18 hole project
• Castle Course, Scotland
Principal - evolution project to make minor modifications
• Longniddry G. C., Scotland
Principal - Remodel consultancy work
• Hesketh G. C., England
Principal- Evolution project remodelling 3 green & bunker complexes in preparation for the British Amateur in 2011
TPC Stonebrae, CA. USA
The Montagu, Fancourt
Born and raised on the west coast of Scotland, and having known for some time that his future would lie somewhere in the golf industry, Niallâ€™s career path was finally decided in 2002 when he graduated with an MSc in Golf Course Architecture from
Heriot Watt University.
Shortly after graduating Niall moved to Dubai to take up a leading role with Harradine Golf Ltd. Here he put his formal training to more practical use whilst soaking up the experiences of working in difficult climates on some of the regions flagship projects as well as further afield in Asia.
Handicap 0 (Scratch)
In 2006 he was invited to join Paul Kimber and David Kidd at DMK Golf Design, where he worked directly with Paul on numerous projects and ultimately took on the
leading role on projects in Portugal and Morocco. In late 2009, and spotting the opportunity to move back to his native Scotland, Niall grabbed the opportunity to join Kimber Golf and is looking forward to tackling the next chapter of his design career. A scratch golfer who lives and breathes the game, Niall is also an active member of both the Scottish Association of Golf Course Architects and the European
Institute of Golf Course Architects.
2003 – 2006 Harradine Golf Ltd Dubai, U.A.E
2006 – 2009 DMK Golf Design Ltd England, U.K
• Mudon Golf Course, Dubai, U.A.E Lead Architect
• Taghazout Golf Course, Agadir, Morocco
Lead Architect and Construction Manager for first course to be constructed
• Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club, Sharjah, U.A.E. Lead Architect
• Herdade Da Comporta, Troia Peninsula, Portugal Lead Architect
• Al Hamra Golf Course, Ras Al Khaimah, U.A.E Lead Architect
• Sahara Championship Golf Course, Kuwait Lead Architect
• Kazan Golf Course, Taterstan, Russia Lead Architect
• Boulder Hills Golf Course, Hyderabad, India
• G West, Gleneagles, Scotland
Associate Architect and Assistant Construction Manager
• Machrihanish Dunes, Scotland
Associate Architect and Assistant Construction Manager
• Durban Country Club, South Africa
Lead Architect for renovation work
• Legends Golf Course, Lead Architect
• Mirage City and Golf Course, Cairo, Egypt Lead Architect
The Ayrshire, Scotland
2009 - Present
Projects Undertaken: • Penglai, China
Project Architect - Full Design & Masterplanning for new 18 hole project
• Dafeng, China
Project Architect - Full Design & Masterplanning for new 36 hole project - 18 Holes links/ 18 Holes Heathland
• The Ayrshire, Scotland
Project Architect - Full Planning Application for new 18 hole Links Course
• Longniddry G. C., Scotland
Lead Architect - Remodel consultancy work
• Hesketh G. C., England
Lead Architect - Evolution project remodelling 3 green & bunker complexes in preparation for the British Amateur in 2011
• The Nottinghamshire G & C C., England
Lead Architect - Course appraisal & Evolution project over a rolling 5 year plan
Boulder Hills, Hyderabad
Sahara Kuwait Resort, Kuwait
Born and raised in Scotland Evan, has been heavily involved in Golf throughout his life. Working in pro shops
Scotland and South Africa and caddying to help further his golf scholarship Evan graduated with an MSc in Landscape Architecture from Edinburgh College of Art. in
In 2006 he was invited to join Paul
Kimber as an Intern
with DMK Golf Design, where he worked directly with Paul as his Construction
Supervisor at gWest from 2008 to the completion of the project in the Autumn of 2009. Evan has also decided to join Paul at Kimber Golf where he currently works from Bangkok overseeing some of our
projects in Asia and the Far East.
working closely bring the concepts and visions for each design into reality. Throughout our careers we have spent many hours on site
shaping crews to
Together we have formed excellent
working relationships with many of these highly skilled machine operators over the last ten years and, as such, have the ability to select the right person for each job. We believe that the understanding we have built up over this time means we can communicate our ideas quickly and efficiently creating a Our teamâ€™s
smooth operation from design inception right through to the results.
unique blend of design flair and practical understanding allows us to consistently
deliver top quality work.
Ph ilosophy & Meth odology 39
Each site is unique and every new golf course should be distinctive. Every golf course is part of a landscape, a good golf course both complements that landscape and sits in
harmony with it. A predetermined design style
should never be imposed on any site. Our aim is to create a bespoke golf course that is
environment and vice versa.
To achieve this goal we ensure that we build a
passionate team that will
each site to understand its landscape. We combine
this with our technical expertise to create golf courses that
exceed expectations. The two fundamentals that combine to create a believable setting are Landscape and Environment.
Landscape At Kimber Golf we have
qualified landscape architects
although golf design is their primary function, understand the way natural landscapes have evolved and how natural landscapes function. This larger scale overview of the site before individual golf holes are conceived allows the
site to be considered as a whole,
scales manipulated and
elements sited in the correct place. The golf course can then be allowed to flow through the new landscape and sit neatly within it.
En vironm ent
Many firms profess to be ‘environmentally friendly’ or ‘minimalists’, but not all can prove it. We have experience of obtaining planning consent and working on some of the most sensitive sites ever used for golf. By taking a
approach with the authorities we have been granted
permission without confrontation. Without a doubt Machrihanish
Dunes is the most environmentally
sensitive golf course built in modern times. With less than 7 of the 200
acres being disturbed Machrihanish Dunes not only plays like a golf course of 100 years ago, it was built that way too. Every corner of the site was
painstakingly surveyed and monitored
throughout the construction with Paul and the project ecologist finding solutions to weave the course into the site causing
minimal disturbance. The
result has been a triumph for all those involved. On other sites not only do we seek to protect the rarest and most sensitive
areas we also enhance it by creating new areas that can become havens for wild flora and fauna. By understanding each site properly we can recreate the conditions that allow these elements to
flourish naturally and often they
will minimise the overall maintenance regime.
There is no doubt that the best courses built around the
From here the
world over the last 10 years have been â€˜designed in the
refined again on site. During this process ideas and
dirtâ€™ with sound backing from an invaluable understanding
concepts for the look and feel of the course are drafted as
of the site. complete a
concept visuals. With these 3 stages complete the masterplan and the sketch book are developed.
including, elevation, slope
Presented with an artistic style the sketchbook will have
The method of work we employ is thorough
and aspect drawings.
plan can be developed and
enough information for initial budgets to be compiled.
Site Analysis & Feasibility Study
These drawings, accompanied by walking the site will help give rise to a solid understanding of the site.
Sch em e Design - Sketch Book
Detail Design - Drawings While we fundamentally believe the only way to guarantee the best results is for the designers to spend a lot of time on site as the course is being built we understand the need for a sound technical base to make sure all elements of the project will work before construction begins. Consequently during the
detailed design stage we will computer model the site checking cut and fill calculations to inform the designer before he is given the freedom to manipulate this on site. Working in this way ensures each part of every hole will have a consistent
brought by the on site designer but nothing is left to chance and there
is always the backing of sound technical information.
Detail Design - Modelling Paul has developed a unique methodology for ensuring his visions become
reality. Working very closely with the shapers on each hole, green, tee and bunker complexes are developed on site. Initial ideas are ‘roughed out’ using a
‘sand box’ not unlike a child’s sand
pit. This simple box containing sand is used to model the hole, the shaper can then take this 3D image and transform it into reality. As more and more detail is required it can similarly be ‘fleshed out’ and refined in the sand, before being brought to life by the shapers. This technique allows the hole to evolve on site and become part of it rather than being set out from paper drawings and therefore being imposed upon the site.
Construction & Grow -In As well as
the Kimber Golf Team have an
excellent understanding of how golf courses should be built. Working for clients such as Charles Schwab, George Roberts, Maher-al-Tajir, Joe Deitch and St Andrews Links Trust who all have exacting
standards - the team
have learnt not to accept second best. By having design staff on site to supervise
construction the team can
also check and monitor the suitability of materials for construction and test any sands before they are used on the course. Maintaining an on site presence also keeps the construction process moving
checking and inspecting at every stage, making sure that each
element is built correctly and that ultimately the project lives up to, and hopefully exceeds expectations.
Construction & Grow -In Our commitment will not finish at the completion of seeding, further site visits will be made to inspect the progress of the
of the project, helping to
ensure that the turf is in a healthy condition for the stage of the project. Turf quality is a very important aspect in making sure the project is
and achieves the playing
characteristics the designers are looking for. We have consultant agronomists experienced in the various grasses practical for the different climatic zones around the globe.
Ser vices 51
â€˘ Course & Site Appraisals Whether you are a developer looking for professional advice as to the viability of a proposed site or an existing club looking to improve or update your facilities we have the relevant experience to enable us to assess the site and provide advice on the best way forward. All of our proposals are tailored to the specific requirements of each project and can be phased to suit budgets and projected timescale.
â€˘ Surveys We have the ability to survey either an existing course or a proposed site providing valuable information for design teams or operational staff and producing maps of an entire site. Detailed maps of existing courses allows accurate calculations of playing areas, useful for greenkeepers to calculate fertilizer requirements. For new golf courses it is imperative that before any design work commences the site has been accurately surveyed.
â€˘ Consultancy With our broad experience and excellent contacts throughout the industry we are able to offer consultancy services to advise on all elements of golf course design and construction. Appropriate for both existing clubs and potential new developments we will tailor a package of services to suit the requirements of the site, the client and the budget. Whether it is a new short game area, full course appraisal or an annual review we will listen to the requirements of the client and propose the most appropriate solution for their needs.
â€˘ Golf Course Design At Kimber Golf we offer a full range of golf course design services that cover all aspects of the golf course design process. From state of the art academies and short game areas through course renovations and restorations to new 18 and 36 hole complexes we cover all aspects of golf course design. We are experienced at collaborating on all types of projects with consultants from all over the world including civil and structural engineers, masterplaners, architects and landscape architects. This allows us to be responsive and proactive to design issues and offer solutions to problems that can have significant savings for our clients. We are proud of our technical abilities that enable us to provide professional and accurate drawings and allow seamless communication with other consultants using a variety of design softwares. With a proven track record of delivering high quality, functional and commercially viable golf course designs we believe we offer competitive solutions for any potential client.
â€˘ Planning Applications Our team have excellent experience of planning applications in the UK and abroad and have an track record of delivering successful applications. We understand the developers need to minimise costs at the early stages of a projectsâ€™ inception and as such we will endeavor to keep expenditure down until permissions are granted. We are used to dealing with the various government bodies, environmental groups and local councils involved with most applications and are happy to advise our clients on the work required during this stage.
â€˘ Masterplanning With our team which includes Landscape Architects we are able to assist in the masterplanning of major projects to ensure the golf course works together with the rest of a development. In todayâ€™s economy golf courses are rarely stand alone developments and the success of the related facilities are key to a commercially viable project. We have worked on a variety of golf / residential projects that have required close coordination with the masterplanning team to ensure the success of the overall masterplan. The most critical part of the process is to decide on the optimum elevations for all adjoining land uses and set the levels at the golf course perimeter to ensure that view corridors are enhanced where possible. We then discuss the overall theme and ethos for the project before progressing the detailed designs whilst continuing to collaborate with the rest of team to realise the vision.
â€˘ Project Management & Construction Management We also have vast experience of golf course construction and offer project management, contract management, and construction management services should the client require these. For full project management we will run the entire construction process managing the schedules, budgets and all the various construction teams and contracts that are needed to create a new golf course. Our team will host weekly site meetings, create regular reports and liaise directly with the client to make sure they are fully informed as to the progress of the project. When working in this role we have consistently delivered projects on time and on budget. When we undertake the construction management for a project we manage each contract and act as liaison between the teams working on the construction. We also provide stage valuations as to the amount and value of work completed to help the smooth running of the project. By working in this way and placing an experienced designer on site full time we believe it provides the client with excellent value for money as the designer performs a dual role.
• Full Project Coordination • • • • •
Clubhouse & Building Design Engineering Quantity Surveying Golf Course Operations Golf Course Maintenance
As well as our in house services we are happy to coordinate a team of professionals to help ensure the success of any project. Our extensive global experience has bought us into contact with some of the worlds leading professionals in the field of Leisure Facility Design, Architects Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Course Operators, Agronomists and Maintenance Teams with whom we have developed close working relationships. If a client prefers a single point of contact for all their design professionals we offer potential clients a ‘one stop shop’ whereby we can manage the entire design process including these additional facilities.
Fortunate to have been collaborating with high profile architects over the last nine years many of Paul’s projects have been well received and written about by the world’s golf media. Featured in a few books - ‘Golf Architecture A Worldwide Perspective’ by Paul Daley, Craig Morrison’s ‘18 Greatest Holes in Scotland’ and Scott Gummer’s ‘The Seventh at ST. Andrews’ and numerous magazines, newspapers and web site reviews Paul has written articles and been written about. This gives him excellent access to the Golf Press which helps generate publicity for new projects. ‘ Kimber sums up his own philosophy. “We’re trying to make our courses look 100 years old from day one. People talk about golf not being fair. It’s not meant to be fair - if it was it would be played on a bowling alley. Golf is about shot making - overcoming the bad breaks and making the most of the good ones”’ GOLF MONTHLY / MARCH 2006 / MARK ALEXANDER
Interviewed in the Daily Telegraph
alongside Jack N icklaus regarding the future of the game. St Andrews-based Paul Kimber is one of the most admired young architects in the sport’ DAILY TELGRAPH/ 9TH JUL 2011/ ALASDAIR REID
‘ Because of the environmental and ecological constraints Keating’s men led principally by Paul Kimber - had to virtually build the course by hand’ GOLF MONTHLY / NOV 2009 / MALCOLM CAMPBELL
‘ This is no minimalist undertaking; Kidd and Kimber have moved earth by the ton. The ground climbs and plunges, ripples and tumbles. Elevation changes stare us down at every turn’ TRAVEL AND LEISURE / JAN-FEB 2008 / JAMES FINNEGAN
‘ Kimber, who has been with Kidd for eight years, says design, in general , is done on the ground “Golf Design isn’t like a building - it won’t fall apart,” he says. “It’s a work of art”.’ GOLF COURSE INDUSTRY NEWS / JAN 2008 / JOHN WALSH
‘ The architects disturbed just seven of the 250 acres on the site. The result is a course that is as natural as they come.’ LINKS / FALL 2009 / ANTHONY PIOPPI
July 2011 ‘Future
FUTURE OF GOLF COURsE dEsiGn
One to watch Ryo Ishikawa, 19 Japan
Ryo Ishikawa is the rising star in Japan where he became the youngest winner of a full tour event aged 15 at the KSB Cup
in 2007. He was still an amateur and it was his first event on the Japanese tour. He has now won nine Japanese tour events,
including The Crowns tournament in 2010 with a final round of 58, thought to be the lowest score on an official tour. It came on the
same day that Rory McIlroy closed with a 62 to win his first event in America. Ishikawa, who wowed American galleries when he first
played in the States, is known as “Hanikami Oji” (“Bashful Prince”). Ishikawa was playing at Doral in America when
the earthquake and tsunami hit his homeland. He later announced that he would donate all his prize money from this season to the
victim relief fund and also £750 for every birdie he makes. “I have enough money to spend,” he said. “I believe this is the most positive
way for me to spend money. It pains me not to be with the people of Japan as they are going through this crisis.”
in association with
Green by nature, green by design, green to the fore Thinking about the environment has become the priority when setting up a course, as Alasdair Reid explains It used to be easy. You stuck a hole in one corner of a field. You teed off from another. You looked to the heavens for your irrigation system. The sheep took care of the mowing. And for a few hundred years, that was how golf worked. Now, though, the business of laying out a course involves a mind-addlingly complex combination of factors. A golf course architect has to balance the possibilities offered by the landscape with the realities of climate, levels of use, the client’s demands and, perhaps more significantly, the client’s budget. Increasingly, environmental considerations enter the equation as well. You can create an emerald green course in the middle of a desert, but is it responsible to do so? Where will you find the water to meet its thirsty needs? How many tons of fertiliser will you have to throw at it each year? And does the modern golfer really want to play on a course that is so patently unnatural? An increasing number don’t. More and more players – and more and more developers for that matter – are looking for an experience more akin to the game their grandfathers and great-grandfathers played. It’s not so long since golfers’ green credentials referred to their putting abilities, but these days they want to save the planet as well as par. They don’t want their spikes to leave a bigger carbon footprint than necessary. Of course, designers have been claiming for years that they simply tinkered with God’s creation when they laid out a new course. Behind that spin, however, the more typical reality was that they had actually moved enough
earth to bury a medium-sized city. As you read the glossy brochures you could almost hear the rumble of the bulldozers in the background. Gradually, the green agenda took hold. “I like to think I always thought about these things,” says Jack Nicklaus, the 18-time major champion who backed up his stellar career as a player by founding a design company that has now overseen the creation of more than 300 courses. “Now, what we find is that people have environmental concerns when they come to us, right at the start. “All round, we find there is a much greater appreciation of the potential impact of a golf course on ecosystems. People want to know that you’re not doing any harm.” St Andrews-based Paul Kimber is one of the most admired young architects in the sport. His design for Machrihanish Dunes, on Scotland’s Kintyre peninsula, has earned high praise from those who have played there, but its most remarkable aspect is that it was created entirely within an area of special scientific interest. “There’s no question we’re dealing with more challenging sites nowadays,” Kimber explains. “The best have already been taken and you have to work with what you’re given. But I look at these things as opportunities rather than problems, especially in protected sites where sensitivity to the environment is needed. There’s a real feeling of achievement when you do a good job there.” But the landscape of golf is changing in other areas, too. For years, the standard response to players hitting the ball further has been to lengthen courses by moving tees further back. However, an increasing number of architects appreciate that, with a finite amount of land at their disposal, that approach is limited. The keyword of the moment is “strategy”. Having pandered to golf’s long-hitters, designers are now asking different questions of players. “Power should be rewarded on some occasions, but harnessed on others,” Nicklaus says. “Accuracy should be rewarded. It’s about trying to get a blend, so that the shorter, more accurate players can compete.”
The key changes Less power and more thought are the driving forces Off the tee
Golf’s arms race could be coming to a close as designers appreciate the futility of trying to counter equipment advances by making their courses longer and longer. Instead, the trend now is to make the big hitters think long and hard before reaching for their drivers, and to give average players an experience that is more enjoyable than it is embarrassing and humiliating. “Length is not the answer,” Jack Nicklaus says. “Sure, new courses are still longer than they would have been a few years ago, but my philosophy is to produce
a course that rewards a variety of good players. You don’t want to create monsters that drive people out of the game.” However, it is still the case that courses are getting bigger. The Old Course at St Andrews, the mother lode of so many golf architects’ ideas, occupies 90 acres of land: a championship standard course created today would probably require close to twice that area for safety reasons alone. “You have to take these things into account,” says Paul Kimber. “Nowadays, you can’t have a course where people are in real danger from stray shots. People ask why we can’t
recreate places like the Old Course. The simple fact is that you wouldn’t be allowed to do that now. You look to these places
for inspiration, but if you tried to copy them you’d get shot.” The philosophy now is to challenge the eye as
Tee time: length is not the answer, says Nicklaus
much as the strength of a player. Again, safety and speed of play come into the equation. So, too, geometry. Hit a 200-yard drive a couple of degrees off-line and you’ll be looking for your ball in light rough. Do the same with a 300-yard strike and you’ll have entered the thing in a postcode lottery. Nicklaus and Kimber both believe big hitters should still be rewarded — just not at every hole. The modern way is to shape fairways and use strategically placed bunkers to encourage the power players to hold back. Ideally, you want fairway bunkers in places where a good amateur will
strive to be, but you still want them to have the satisfaction of taking them on. You want people to think about their shots. “Making holes longer doesn’t make them better,” says Kimber. “You can’t make golf a slog for all but the elite players. The average social golfer is 50 years old and has a handicap of 20, so you have to make it enjoyable for someone at that level.”
Ten years ago, course architects would make a token nod to ecological considerations. Now, those concerns drive their work. If a new course cannot establish its environmental
credentials early on, it will struggle to get planning permission. As public attitudes have moved on too, it might struggle to get customers as well. “Sustainability is a big consideration now,” says Kimber. “Personally, I think that it always should have been.” Around the world, the biggest environmental issue in golf has been the excessive use of water. Aside from the amount used to irrigate fairways and greens, ponds and fountains became almost standard in new developments. For many architects, however, those days have now gone. Brown is the new green
as far as Kimber is concerned. Golf course owners and developers — and golfers themselves — will have to accept that lush and verdant fairways cannot remain the norm. “You’ll see a move towards different types of grasses in the years ahead, varieties that can tolerate drought conditions. The traditional British links fescues are just about ideal as they can cope with a shortage of rain and then bounce back. “In other countries, you might start to see the use of varieties that are more salt-tolerant, so that courses don’t have to use expensive desalination equipment.
“We need to minimise the irrigated areas on courses, so you can expect the overall look to change in the coming years.” As courses move towards more outlying coastal and rural locations, architects are frequently having to work within specific conservation requirements. However, Kimber believes that pockets of rare flora and fauna add to sites, lending them a character that other places do not have.
around the rest of the course, the fashion for immaculate putting surfaces is likely to wane in the coming years.
In part, the change will be driven by courses becoming shorter and less brutal from tee to green. If par is to be protected,
No part of a golf course is subject to such close scrutiny as its greens. In keeping with the return to a more ragged look
Drama green: expect more enhanced contours
then the defences will go up on the greens. Kimber expects greens to have more dramatic contours, although he also says they will not be set up to produce the super-fast surfaces that have become popular today. “The obsession with getting faster and faster greens has meant that designers had to specify flat greens,” Kimber explains. “Otherwise, the course would just be unplayable. I expect we’ll see a move towards the grass being kept longer. “In environmental terms that is a benefit. If greens are not being mown to within an inch of their lives, they require less water.”
Just as ponds began to proliferate in golf design a few years ago, so too did bunkers. And just as the water was there purely for decoration, there wasn’t much point behind the tons of sand either. Many were located in places that suggested they were there for purely aesthetic reasons, rather than as a challenge to players. With course owners taking a closer interest in maintenance costs, that pattern is already starting to change. “Bunkers are resource sponges,” Kimber explains. “On a foot-by-foot basis they are more expensive to look after than any
other part of the course. People have also come to expect that bunkers will be in perfect condition, which only raises the cost of looking after them.” Kimber believes that the hazards of the future will be just that — hazardous. “Of course you want to have a few bunkers,” he says, “but if you have more than 50 on a course then you have to ask yourself what they’re all doing there. They should only be put in places where they could be important to the shot.” Kimber predicts more imaginative features and challenges, such as rocks and dry stream beds, will creep into the game.
Golf World 2010 Ranking
Golf Monthly Dec 2010
Golf Monthly 2010 Ranking
Golf Monthly Nov 2009
Travel & Leisure Jan / Feb 2008
• 31 Park Place • Stirling • Scotland •
Portfolio of Golf Golf Course Desgned & Built by staff at International Golf Course Architects Kimber Golf