Bled Renovation Continues Apace

Sunset Over The New Lakes At Bled

The Swan Golf Designs (SGD) led renovation of the King’s Course at Bled in Slovenia is now well underway, with ground having been broken in January 2015 and Phase One of the project well on schedule to be completed by early June.

SGD has been working at the prestigious golf complex of 27 holes for a considerable number of years, but was appointed by the new owners to mastermind a comprehensive redesign and renovation of one of central Europe’s premier golf courses, with all aspects of the facility falling within the scope of the project. The brief provided by the clients was interpreted to include improvements to five key features:

  • Improved Challenge – through increased course length, reduced par, more testing contours and borrows to the enlarged Greens and more penal hazards.
  • Improved Playing Strategy – through greater variety of tees, improved bunkering to encourage more thoughtful shot selection and wider playing areas to increase fairness for the lesser golfer.
  • Improved Quality – through a modern and high quality technical specification for greens, tees, bunkers and fairways, better drainage, better irrigation, better soil profiles and better grasses.
  • Improved Environmental Management – through two hectares of water storage, an integrated water collection and recycling system and the reuse of on-site resources such as timber, stone and sand.
  • Improved Ecology – through working with local forestry and wildlife consultants in partnership with Triglav National Park to improve the alpine woodland, improve the grassland and wildflower meadows, and to provide a wider range of habitats for indigenous mammals, birds and insects.

The New 10th Hole At Bled

SGD is undertaking the design and project management roles on behalf of Golf Course Bled, and is leading a project team which takes advantage of Slovenian expertise supported by proven international contractors from seven different nations.

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Planning Permission Granted For New Channels Course

The new course at Channels

Construction on the new golf course at Channels Golf Club will begin later in March after the Swan Golf Designs negotiated planning permission was granted in late February.

The new-look course, at Little Waltham, near Chelmsford, will see a modern, 18-hole course constructed, designed for golf in the 21st century, with more water and buggy paths. The course – which will be immediately to the north of the current site – will feature 13 new holes, while five from the existing design will be adapted to complete the lay-out.

And, as part of the design brief, SGD will keep 18 holes open at all times in order to minimise disruption to the club’s large membership.

William Swan, SGD director and the family’s third generation of golf course designers, believes construction on the course will begin in the next four weeks – with the new-look 6,670-yard, par-72 Channels course fully open by 2017.

He explained: “Over the last couple of years we have been working through the detailed planning application process which has involved consulting with Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council and the Environment Agency, as well as several other environmental, ecological and archaeological consultants.

“Throughout this process we’ve been making minor design alterations to the proposed golf course layout to take into account their advice but without compromising the objective of producing the finest golf course in Essex. Our brief is to provide a golf course fit for the 21st century, as the sport has, of course, taken massive strides technically in the last 30 years.”

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Working Together: SGD Joins GCMA Business Club

Working Together SGD Joins GCMA Business Club

Communication is the key to success in most projects, and in a continued effort to increase interaction between us and other sectors of the industry Swan Golf Designs has become a founder member of the Golf Club Managers’ Association Business Club. Since becoming GCMA Chief Executive Bob Williams has made it a priority to encourage closer cooperation between golf club managers and the golf industry, ensuring they have access to all developments that could benefit their members, whether that is better coffee, better management software, better bunkers or a potential end to the VAT rebate saga. This spirit of cooperation is very much aligned with SGD’s ethos, and we are proud to become a partner of the GCMA.

Through the Business Club, SGD will attend the GCMA’s regional conferences to discuss how golf course renovation may be of value to golf clubs throughout the UK, what problems could be solved through redesign and which are better tackled with changes to maintenance practices or management procedures, and how the increasing prevalence of safety concerns is best addressed. In addition we will be represented at the GCMA National Conference to be held at St George’s Park in November.

The benefit to us is that we have opportunity to meet with golf club managers from up and down the UK, but just as importantly to keep our finger on the pulse of what clubs need from golf course architects like ourselves. It is our hope that through the Business Club we will be able to contribute to the sharing of knowledge and experience within the golf industry, and that in turn we can pass this on to our clients through an improved understanding of their needs.

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Strengthening Stirling

Swan Golf Designs Begin Work At Stirling GolfClub

Work has begun on the development of Stirling Golf Club’s 1869 golf course with the redesign and refurbishment of the 2nd, 8th and 10th holes. Under Swan Golf Designs’ direction the holes have been rebunkered to improve their playing strategy and drainage and to reduce their maintenance requirements. Just as importantly the renovation has improved the aesthetics of the three holes, bringing a consistency and style to detailing of the holes, from the new bunkers to the introduction of swales and hollows on the green surrounds.

The course at Stirling has been influenced by some of golf’s greatest names over its near 150 year history, including Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris as the club’s first professional, Willie Fernie, James Braid and Henry Cotton.  The first stage of work is part of Stirling Golf Club’s ten-year renovation programme as devised by Howard Swan alongside the club’s development committee, with rebunkering of the course taking place alongside landscape improvements and the potential reconstruction of some tees and greens.


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Swans Fly Back To Bled

Swans Fly Back To Bled

Swan Golf Designs (SGD) has been reappointed as Golf Course Architect to lead the renovation at Golf Course Bled, Slovenia.

Nestling amongst the Julian Alps and set above the glacial lake of the same name Bled has long been a sporting playground for the rich and famous and was a favourite destination for the Yugoslav royal family. The town is now an important centre of tourism in Central Europe, attracting visitors from across the region. Golf Course Bled is the oldest golf course in the former Yugoslavia dating back to 1937, with its 27 holes laid out amongst mature alpine woodland overlooked by the snow-capped peaks of the neighbouring Triglav National Park It is currently ranked 49th in the Golf World magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses of Continental Europe.

October will see SGD return to Bled to continue its renovation of the Kings Course following the purchase of the resort by the Solak family, who intend to bring the golf course to a standard worthy of international amateur and professional events. The project will include the redesign and reconstruction of all greens, tees and bunkers with associated reshaping of green surrounds and fairways where appropriate, and the installation of a state-of-the-art irrigation system to help maintain perfect playing conditions throughout the golfing season. In addition Bled will benefit from a renewed focus on the management and development of out-of-play areas to improve the course’s integration into its wider landscape setting supported by the creation of new woodland, grassland and aquatic habitats.

Work on site is programmed to begin in March 2015, with a phased construction timetable ensuring that at least 18 holes remain in play at all times.


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SGD Planning For The Future At Barton on Sea

SGD Planning For The Future At Barton on Sea

The greatest attraction is also the most significant threat to the course at Barton on Sea Golf Club, located on England’s south coast overlooking the Channel and the Isle of Wight. The original course, dating back to 1897, was extended to twenty-seven holes in the early nineties and takes full advantage of the cliff top setting in creating some wonderfully spectacular holes. But now the power of the sea and the UK’s highly changeable climate is taking its toll with the club now finding a number of holes under threat from the receding coastline.

Swan Golf Designs (SGD) is helping the membership at this highly popular club redesign those holes which are under threat, and at the same time is extending its expert analysis to other parts of the course to identify opportunities for improvement. It is likely that, starting this autumn, five holes will be altered with the construction of new tees, new bunkers and one new fairway plus modifications to two greens.

The second phase of work is anticipated to include that two or three more holes will be renovated with the redesign and reconstruction of tees and bunkering.

Other proposed improvements consist of the revisions to the overall bunkering throughout the course and further development of the large practice ground to realise a multifunctional range and family golf course.


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SGD Appointed To Advise Huddersfield Golf Club

SGD Appointed At Huddersfield Golf Club

Swan Golf Designs has been appointed by Huddersfield Golf Club to advise on making improvements to their golf course.

Huddersfield is one of Yorkshire’s leading golf clubs and enjoys a location high above the town at the historic, grade II listed Fixby Hall, featuring panoramic views of West Yorkshire and the Peak District from many of its holes. The course was originally designed by Tom Dunn in 1892 and over the years has benefitted from design input from many of British golf architecture’s leading names, including Alister MacKenzie, Herbert Fowler, Tom Simpson and Huddersfield Golf Club’s long time professional and Open Championship winner Alex “Sandy” Herd.

SGD has been tasked with compiling an audit of the golf course with particular focus on the course’s bunkers, with the aim of improving their playability and appearance. Other features to be analysed by SGD include potential new tees, improvements to the practice facilities and the wider landscape setting.


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KGA Hosts The Bonallack Trophy

SGD Renovated KGA Course Hosts Bonallack Trophy

In late March the Swan Golf Designs (SGD) renovated golf course at Karnataka Golf Association (KGA) in Bangalore, India successfully hosted The Bonallack Trophy, the biennial match between Europe and Asia’s top amateurs.

Five years ago SGD was selected to lead the upgradation of the original Peter Thomson designed course at KGA, with the project completed in two phases of nine-holes over a ten month period. The complete renovation of the golf course encompassed nineteen new greens, new tees, new bunkering and a completely re-grassed course using TIFdwarf and TIFway 419 Bermuda grasses. A modernised irrigation system was also installed as part of the comprehensive relaying of golf course.

In addition to the golf course renewal SGD designed and implemented an ambitious engineering project to prevent annual flooding and the resultant closure of the course through the monsoon season. This project, wholly integrated with the remodelling work, included raising much of the course by more than a metre, installing kilometres of drainage pipe, hectares of water storage lakes and a sophisticated evacuation system utilizing the irrigation pumps. Since the project’s completion the golf course has never been closed to play due to flooding.

More recently Howard Swan has made two consultative visits to help KGA prepare for the prestigious event, working closely with the golf course superintendent and her team to execute an intensive programme of culturing to present the finest quality of golf course possible. At the conclusion of the match, won by Europe 17.5 to 14.5, the championship course received rave reviews from the organisers and players alike, as well as representatives of the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the European Golf Association and the R&A.

The Bonallack Trophy is the second international event to be held at KGA, with the Asian Tour’s Indian Open having been played on the 7227 yard par-72 layout in 2010, becoming the first golf course in southern India to do so.


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SGD Appointed At Stirling Golf Club

SGD Appointed At Stirling Golf Club

Swan Golf Designs (SGD) has been appointed at Stirling Golf Club, Scotland, to carry out a comprehensive review of their course, following in the footsteps of Old Tom Morris, Willie Fernie, James Braid and Sir Henry Cotton in making an input into its design.

Situated in Kings Park in the shadow of the historically significant Stirling Castle, Stirling Golf Club was formed in 1869, although there is evidence that golf has been played on this site since 1505. Despite having only seven holes set alongside the old Stirling racecourse to begin with, the club benefitted from the expertise and fame of four-time Open Champion Young Tom Morris as its first professional. In 1892 Old Tom Morris travelled from St Andrews to modify the now nine-hole course, before it was extended to eighteen by Royal Troon’s Willie Fernie in the early 1900s. More significant changes were overseen by two more Open Champions, James Braid in 1938 and Henry Cotton in 1967 which have resulted in the course that is played today.

Now, almost 600 years since golf was first played on the site, Swan Golf Designs has been tasked with bringing the course into line with the modern game.

SGD’s focus will be on retaining the important historic features whilst taking into account improvements in playing equipment, higher golfer expectations in terms of playability and course condition, and the need to ensure safety for both golfers and other visitors to Kings Park.

It is anticipated that renovation work will begin in autumn 2014, with the first phases including improvements to the bunkering and the restoration of the indigenous landscape.

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Five Years On: SGD Returns To KGA

Five Years On: SGD Return To KGA

Swan Golf Designs (SGD) has been asked to return to The Karnataka Golf Association, Bangalore, five years after completing the comprehensive redesign of their championship golf course.

The original project was centred upon solving an annual flooding issue which caused the course to be closed for several weeks each year. However, as the engineering solution was identified it became apparent that this was a unique opportunity to improve all facets of the course. After thorough analysis, lengthy consultation with the membership and detailed planning the SGD designed solution was implemented over two phases, and included new greens, tees and bunkering throughout, a high specification drainage scheme and an automated water collection/storage/irrigation system.

Since completion the upgraded layout has proved to be a major success, never once having been closed due to flooding whilst also being voted India best course and becoming the first venue in southern India to host the prestigious Indian Open Asian Tour event. In March 2014 KGA will proudly host the Bonallack Trophy, the biennial contest between the leading amateurs of Europe and Asia.

SGD will return to KGA later this month to review the progress made over the past five years and to set out a programme for further improvements to be implemented over the next five years.

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