One of the most exciting new golf courses to be built in the UK over the last decade unofficially opened earlier this summer following the completion of the four-year project to create JCB Golf & Country Club.
Built on a 240-acre site adjacent to the headquarters of multi-national engineering and construction company JCB Ltd in Staffordshire, the 18-hole course was designed by British architect Robin Hiseman of European Golf Design, and serves as a showpiece for the engineering excellence of JCB’s machinery. A total of ten of the company’s diggers were used to help shift over half a million tonnes of earth during the initial phases of the construction project, with JCB Chairman Lord Bamford taking the controls of a 36-tonne JCB JS360 tracked excavator to mark the start of the project back in 2014.
JCB acted as the general contractor, while local company JC Balls, a customer of JCB, was employed to carry out the bulk of the earth moving. The extensive drainage system, which includes deep-lying herringbone drains, was installed by Farm Services, and will ensure the course remains in perfect playing condition throughout the year.
Measuring 7,303 yards from the championship tees, the tour-standard course is designed to test the very best golfers, but multiple teeing areas make it playable for a wide range of handicaps, with the forward tees reducing the overall length to just over 5,000 yards. Built to the very highest standards, it is hoped that the par-72 layout will host professional tournaments in the future.
The new golf course is currently available to JCB’s network of global dealers and will be used to drive business growth, build relationships with new customers and strengthen pre-existing relationships. In addition, JCB hope to incorporate golf days into the wider JCB visitor experience, although there are currently no plans for general visitor play.
The course has seen initial rounds played throughout the summer by the club’s inaugural members, ahead of a grand opening at the start of the 2019 season, following the completion of a spectacular glass-fronted clubhouse.
The course itself meanders through a mixture of parkland and woodland, interspersed with lakes and streams. The short holes are particularly strong, with the par-three 9th, located in what used to be an arboretum, playing back towards the ruins of Woodseat Hall, which will eventually be restored to create one of the most spectacular halfway houses in golf.
Three of the four par-fives are over 600 yards, with the 13th, a monstrous 627 yards and requiring a 230-yard carry over a lake to reach the green, being the most challenging of the quartet. The closing stretch is unforgettable, with the 255-yard, par-three 17th playing to a stunning island green set on the South Lake, while the 18th presents a 462-yard uphill dogleg, with a tee shot to a split fairway. The second shot plays to a green protected by sizeable front bunker that will swallow up anything left short.
The course has created 100 jobs, with a full complement of staff expected to take up positions in groundscare and hospitality roles over the next four years, with further roles offered with the opening of the JCB Golf & Country Club Academy, which will be attached to the clubhouse.
Speaking of the opportunities provided as a result of the golf course construction, James Clark, Golf Operations Manager at JCB Golf & Country Club, who started his career with JCB working at the factory, said: “When I started working with JCB, I could never have imagined I would ever be in the position I am today. Especially for the golfers among us, these are hugely exciting times at JCB, and we are fully committed to creating a world-class golf complex that generates visits from all across the globe, helping to support local community.”
JCB Golf Course Manager, Euan Grant, said: “It’s truly remarkable to see how the course has come to life in the last four years, going from rolling Staffordshire countryside to what we believe is one of the best layouts in the country. I’m so grateful to have been able to be a part of the journey and am already so excited to see what the future holds for us – we believe the sky’s the limit in what we can achieve as a golf venue.”