A major revamp of the short game facility at the St Andrews Links Golf Academy is nearing completion.
The project, which aims to further enhance the facilities at the Home of Golf, has seen the golf and greenkeeping team at the Links work closely with award-winning golf course architecture firm Mackenzie and Ebert.
The work began at the end of October, and with the project nearing completion, excitement is now building for March 2019, when the area will open for golfers to enjoy.
Director of Golf John Grant said: “We are very passionate about our work and being able to offer golfers great practice facilities where they can work on improving their game. In recent years we felt the short game area didn’t offer enough variety or replicate the conditions and types of shots golfers experience across the seven courses at the Links.
“We were delighted to be able to work with Martin and the team at Mackenzie and Ebert, and believe we have been able to redesign the site and create something that reflects the world class quality of our courses and facilities, enhancing the services we currently offer at the Golf Academy and improving the overall experience.”
Ebert added: “It has been very fulfilling to have contributed to the new short game area at St Andrews Links. The beautiful undulations which are present throughout all of the courses at St Andrews have served as the best possible inspiration for the design and shaping of the greens and surrounds which have been created.
“Formerly, the large flat green with the five bunkers on one side was disappointing in terms of the short game shots on offer. This has been replaced with four new greens, three of which have been raised and shaped to replicate shots that might be found around the greens on the courses at St Andrews. The fourth green has been kept at ground level to allow pitch-and-run shots and flat putts from off the green to be practiced, and the five bunkers have been shaped and located in positions to allow all different types of bunker shots.”
With the Old Course regularly hosting major tournaments, including the 150th Open in 2021, the design also took into account the infrastructure requirements, retaining some flat areas to accommodate a grandstand, as well as ensuring an existing putting green – Harry Colt’s wonderful old 2nd green of the Eden Course – remains an integral part of the short game area.
Work began in October, with Director of Instruction Steve North, and Eden, Strathtyrum and Balgove Course Manager Kevin Muir and his greenkeeping team working closely with Mackenzie and Ebert throughout all aspects of the project.
The new design has also freed up some additional space, which will be utilised to increase parking provision to cater for the increasing number of golfers visiting the Eden Clubhouse and Golf Academy all-year round.
Elsewhere on the Links, winter projects are continuing apace, including the creation of a permanent catering facility at the rear of the 9th green of the Old Course. Previously a mobile catering unit has serviced the needs of golfers on both the Old and New Courses, however renovation work has now begun to extend the footprint of the toilet block and shelter to include a dedicated catering facility.
Director of Operations Ewen Bowman said: “We have long held ambitions to find a more permanent catering solution, both for our staff and golfers, as we strive to deliver a five-star experience. The new Halfway House will enable us to provide a great facility for golfers to pick up a selection of fresh snacks and refreshments before taking on the challenge of the back nine.”
Finally, work will continue over the winter to improve access routes around the Old Course, with a new road routing taking shape between the Old and New Courses. This work has involved moving an existing track several yards away from golf, as well as creating better screening to ensure the safety of golfers and staff.
The road, which is predominantly used by greenkeeping team and golfer’s assistants, will be completed in the New Year with tarmac treatment, while the former track will be backfilled and turfed.