Luton Hoo Hotel & Country Club, on the Hertfordshire / Bedfordshire border, stands in over 1000 acres of parkland. The mansion for the luxury five-star hotel dates back to the late 18th century. The setting and approach have altered little since Capability Brown set out the park back in 1767, with the River Lea running through the estate to form a large, serpentine lake that extends over 50 acres.
The new golf course at Luton Hoo is one of the few being created in England at the present time. When it is completed later this year, in time for the autumn opening of Luton Hoo as a luxury five-star hotel, it will also be one of the country’s longest courses.
The 18-hole Luton Hoo course is set in 250-acres of open parkland originally laid out by the famous 18th century landscape designer Capability Brown. It was designed by Mass Designs to be sympathetic to the historical significance of the land and no trees are being removed to create the course.
Luton Hoo is being refurbished by Elite Hotels and is the group’s fourth luxury hotel. Elite Hotels also owns Ashdown Park in East Sussex, which has an 18-hole golf course, Tylney Hall in Hampshire and the five-star Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, East Sussex.
Michael Smith, a former Stirlingshire and Kent county golfer with many years experience in golf course management, formed Mass Designs in 1989. Previous Mass Designs projects include Lydd Golf Club in Kent, courses in the centre of Newbury and Wincanton racecourses and a course for the Donnington Valley Hotel Group in Berkshire. For the last four years the company has worked in Bulgaria with property developers to promote the sport in developing holiday destinations in Eastern Europe.
Some 100,000sq metres of earth were shifted in the creation of the Luton Hoo course. The course is long, with a choice of four sets of tees to play from measuring 7,107 yards, 6,810 yards and 6,143 yards in total. All greens and tees have been built to conform to USGA (United States Golf Association) standards so will be free draining and allow play all year round.
Water comes into play on six of the holes in the once arable field known as Jackson’s Hill, where three large feature lakes and a large reservoir have been constructed.
Water is ‘farmed’ from the site through a comprehensive drainage system so water for irrigation can be recovered and stored. The feature lakes are interlinked. The reservoir holds sufficient water to irrigate the greens, green surrounds, approaches and tees throughout even the driest summer. In the event that more water is required the water level in the feature ponds can be reduced, supplying more water to the reservoir. Water is circulated from the reservoir up to the top ponds so water is moving constantly, improving water quality and keeping streams running all year.
Throughout the estate there are a number of plantations and 1,500 advanced nursery stock trees are being transplanted on to the course to give a sense of instant maturity. Vast areas of wild flower pastures have been created to give the course a natural feel.
The course was seeded in September 2006 and will be ready for play in September 2007.
Luton Hoo www.lutonhoo.co.uk