Australian architect Bob Harrison is to build a world-class 18-hole golf course on the small Scottish Hebridean islandof Jura, reports Planet Golf
The course will become part of the 14,000-acre Ardfin Estate, which occupies the southern tip of an island best known for its single malt scotch whiskey and with a current population of just 180. In announcing the new developmentHarrisondescribed the Ardfin site as the “most beautiful I have ever seen in my time in golf”.
Harrison is one of Australia’s most respected golf course architects, having designed 9 of the country’s Top 100 courses during his tenure as lead designer with Greg Norman Golf Course Design – including 3 of the Top 10. Four of his courses were ranked among the Top 100 in the world outside the USA (2012) by Golf Digest Magazine.
A 30-year industry veteran, Harrison noted that he had been fortunate over the years to work on some spectacular sites in Asia, the USA and Australia, but said “Nothing I’ve seen anywhere in the world competes with the sheer beauty of the Jura site. I love Scotland in general and, by a pleasant coincidence, had been a devoted fan of The Machrie Golf Course on nearby Islay for many years. Jura has become my favourite place on earth.”
The routing at Ardfin will be arranged in two loops along the edge of a series of elevated bluffs. There will be spectacular views across the ocean from every corner of the property. Designed to cause minimal disturbance to the coastal landscape, Harrison’s holes will be ‘dropped’ onto existing fields, and constructed without substantially modifying the form of the land.
Harrison stresses the determination to remain naturalistic by “preserving all of the existing burns which cross the fields, and the large areas of particularly sensitive wilderness (such as wetlands) even where they lie within the playing areas of individual golf holes. Ancient stone walls on the site will be incorporated into the design, while new walls along with the beautiful cliffs will dictate the strategy for many holes by asking players to choose a brave line if they hope to reach a short par 4 or gain a better angle of approach. The strategy in many places will resemble holes like the 14th at St Andrews and the 13th at North Berwick.”
The development team plan to use grasses that resemble the current pasture grasses used for farming and, like traditional old Scottish courses, to have no irrigation – even on the greens.
The new Ardfin course is part of a major investment in the area, which current estate manager Willie MacDonald describes as “the most significant on Jura since the distillery was opened in 1963”. Beyond building a golf course, the owners will renovate a number of dilapidated farm buildings. They will also employ additional full-time staff to manage the property. Ardfin Estate is already one of the largest employers on the island, and after this construction will only be surpassed in its economic significance to Jura by the distillery.
As there are no new buildings planned and minimal earthworks required to construct the golf course, the project has the support of the vast majority of Jura residents. The proponents have consulted extensively with Scottish National Heritage and now require the approval of the Argyll Council in order to begin construction. Plans were recently submitted with the Council and it is hoped that approval will be granted later this year.
Bob Harrison spent more than 20 years as the lead designer for Greg Norman Golf Course Design in the Asia Pacific Region. In 2009 he left Norman’s company and established Harrison Golf.
During the course of a prolific design career he worked on highly ranked projects like Ellerston, The National Golf Club (Moonah Course), The Grand Golf Club, Brookwater, The Glades, Pelican Waters and the New South Wales Golf Club (redesign). Both Ellerston and National Moonah are ranked among the top 6 courses in Australia while Brookwater, The Grand, Pelican Waters, The Glades and The Vintage have all featured within Australia’s Top 40.
Harrison was also lead designer on a number of GNGCD projects in China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and other parts of Asia. His work included Nirwana Bali, which has been described as ‘The Best Golf Resort in the Pacific Rim’ and is consistently ranked ‘The Best Course in Asia’. It also included the routing and design drawings for Sugarloaf in Atlanta and Wente Vineyards in California.
Planet Golf www.planetgolf.com