A new 18 hole championship golf course, located within the M25 motorway near Rickmansworth, is due to open this summer. Designed by Californian golf course architect, Kyle Phillips, The Grove is a par 72, 7,100 yard layout in a classic English heath land style. The location is an historic site which has been privately developed over several years and will include a five star hotel, spa and conference centre. The property is already being described as ‘London’s new country estate’.
Kyle Phillips was responsible for the design of the Kingsbarns Golf Links, near St. Andrews, which opened to grand reviews in July 2000. Other Kyle Phillips Golf Course Design work in Europe includes Golf Eichenheim in Austria, Golfsocieteit De Lage Vuursche near Amsterdam as well as Southern Gailes, a traditional links style course on the coast in Ayrshire, Scotland.
The Kyle Phillips course at The Grove is located within 20 minutes of London’s Heathrow airport and is expected to be established quickly as one of the country’s leading golfing venues. The Golf Director is Blyth Reid, formerly of Turnberry and Fancourt.
Working closely with Kyle Phillips throughout the contract were the British contractors, MJ Abbott, specialists in golf construction, irrigation and land drainage. “There were constraints on the site,” says Nigel Wyatt, contracts director of MJ Abbott, “the main one being it is set on areas which are of great archaeological interest. Where this happens no cut and fill is allowed so the golf course had to be designed around it. The conservation of bats, badgers and snakes also formed part of the planning considerations.”
At the height of the contract Abbott had in excess of sixty people working on the site. A full turnkey project, they lifted the first sod, carried out earth moving, land drainage replacement of top soil and seeding on greens, fairways and tees.
“There were also constraints on the ecological side,” says Nigel. “as part of the course is built on a flood plain. All operations relating to cut and fill had to compensate for this.”
To encourage natural wildlife and maintain their habitats, MJ Abbott seeded large areas with wildflower seed from Perryfields.
“A major concern related to the three different grades of top soil on the site,” says Nigel. “MAFF grade soil from 1A to 3B, and ministry officials did not want different grades of top soil mixed. For this reason, we had to replace soil where it was taken from, rather than introducing new soils.”
Two historic lakes were restored as part of the landscaping scheme designed by Liz Lake Associates. “We cleared all the scrub and woodland and found an outline of the historic lakes. So we dug them out, removed the rubbish and relined them,” says Nigel.
Land drainage and irrigation systems were a design/build contract. A full greens, tees, approaches and fairways irrigation system was installed with over 1,000 heads and included the latest Rain Bird central control weather station.
“Secondary drainage works will be required in certain areas, as it is impossible to do it in one hit,” says Nigel. “Time demonstrates where works will be necessary. The budget has allowed for money in years two and three to upgrade the system as required.”
The Grove www.thegrove.co.uk
MJ Abbott www.mjabbott.co.uk
Kyle Phillips www.kylephillips.com