September 18, 2019 By: AGCSA — The Royal Sydney Golf Club has announced this week that it will soon move to implement its Championship Course redevelopment plans, following an Extraordinary General Meeting on Tuesday evening where members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the project.
In what will be one of the biggest undertakings in the club’s celebrated 126-year history, the Championship Course will be renovated to a design by world-renowned golf course architect Gil Hanse, who was appointed by the club in 2016. Hanse has designed courses across the globe, from Pinehurst No.4, Merion and LA Country Club in his native USA, to Castle Stuart in Scotland and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games course. Hanse’s design will be complemented by a landscape restoration overseen by Australian landscape architect Harley Kruse.
With the green light given by the members, the next step in the process will be the club’s submission of a Development Application to Woollahra Municipal Council, under which the Championship Course would close for construction in April 2021 before re-opening in April 2022.
The renovated course will include a number of key design features to deliver a contemporary design innovatively crafted for the Royal Sydney topography, as well as restore a native heathland landscape. The routing will feature two loops of nine (presently the 9th hole is on the opposite side of the property to the clubhouse) and will be designed so as to cater for all levels of golf.
The new Pure Distinction creeping bentgrass greens will be constructed using USGA methodology and incorporate Sub-Air drainage technology which was installed in a trial green in late 2017. Fairway widths will be increased by 64 per cent to provide for more shot selection and different strategic approaches, while there will be a significant overhaul of bunkers in terms of their design, placement and construction. Bunkers will be constructed with a new liner to aid drainage, as well as improved bunker sand and entry and exit points to increase playability, safety and speed of play.
Royal Sydney club president Chris Chapman says that while the significant works ahead were a necessary step for the club, the redevelopment has also presented the club with several previously unimagined opportunities.
“Throughout its history, The Royal Sydney Golf Club has made an extraordinary contribution to the evolution and development of the game, to golf architecture, to grass and green technology and to tournament life,” says Chapman. “The Championship Course redevelopment will ensure that these influences prevail long into the future.
“Our Championship Course has not undergone such a comprehensive renovation for 100 years. The course and its in-ground and on-ground infrastructure are showing their age and would have had to be resolved at some point in the near future. In addressing these issues through the vision of one of the world’s best golf course architects, the club will create an important sanctuary of native flora and fauna in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs – an incredible opportunity. This re-imagined Championship Course will stand among the finest heath courses and be contemporary, playable and sustainable.”
Adds Royal Sydney Men’s captain Stephen Martin: “The new landscape will not only complement the course design by providing more fairway space, but will also present a number of sustainable benefits,” says Martin. “It will almost quadruple our current floral diversity – including several rare and endangered species – as well as add a further 144 trees over the current tree count. The heathland species will thrive naturally in our local environment, meaning the club’s Turf Care team will be able to reduce watering and other inputs for the course’s rough and landscaped areas. We also anticipate that the new landscape will result in a wider diversity of native animal species making Royal Sydney their home.”
Australian Sports Turf Managers Association member and Royal Sydney course superintendent Adam Marchant is extremely excited about the impending project and what it will mean for the club. Marchant, who took over as Royal Sydney superintendent in late January 2018, has spent the majority of his turf management career at the club and is looking forward to seeing it enter a new phase under the auspices of Hanse.
“It was an unbelievable result on Tuesday and I am so happy that the members are supportive of the redevelopment,” says Marchant. “Gil is one of the best in the business and to have the opportunity to be a part of such a significant project is extremely exciting for me and for the entire Turf Care team at Royal Sydney.
“I have been fortunate enough to have seen some of Gil’s work, most notably LA Country Club, Winged Foot and Aronimink, and have watched other projects closely, especially the most recent works at Merion Golf Club. We have worked hard to get to this point and the design that Gil has proposed is fantastic.
“To be able to restore the landscape to what once existed is one aspect of the redevelopment that I am really passionate about. The landscape plan that will complement Gil’s design is made up of 110 native species that will create a strong and distinct Australian heathland, which will add shape and character to the course.
“We are now just finalising all the documentation for submitting the Development Application with Woollahra Council. If all that goes smoothly we should have approval in October 2020 at which point we will start an ‘early works’ package which will consist of building a new irrigation dam, pump shed and pumps and removing some trees that are in the area where we want to start the construction. The proposal is to close the course in its entirety for the whole of the project and we are committing to a 12-month turnaround from close to open with the works schedule to begin in April 2021.”