Top quality golf course designs from 30 high-profile projects in 19-countries have been surpassed by the Danish-Dutch partners Spogárd &VanderVaart. For the first time GOLF Inc. have awarded Danish-Dutch golf course architects with the coveted ”Development of the Year Award”, writes Frank Undall.
More than 30 projects in 19 countries were nominated for the world’s premier award of 2011 for golf course architects. But it was the young architect company Spogárd & VanderVaart that surpassed illustrious names like Tom Doak, Coore& Crenshaw, Gary Player, Nick Faldo and many more.
Their project, Golfbaan Stippelberg in the Netherlands, did not only fall in the Judging Panel’s taste but also in the users.
Even before its inauguration in September 2011 there were 1,200 members who impatiently fidgeted on the tees to drive the virgin fairways… “We can hardly comprehend it. We always set our aim high but to be winners in front of so many established names and high-profiled projects is fantastic. It’s really unbelievable,” say humble partners Philip Spogárd and Michiel van der Vaart.
Golfbaan Stippelberg is located in an area where the typical number of members in a golf club is 300-350. At the opening in September 2011 approximately 1,200 new members were ready to compete with both challenging heather moorland and wetlands at Stippelberg.
The business partners met while studying to become golf course architects in England, where Philip Spogárd was awarded TORO’s coveted award for ”Student of the Year 2008”. While Spogárd stayed inLondonto work for Thomson Perrett & Lobb, van der Vaart went toHollandto work for Gerard Jol in Jol Golf Design.
In 2009 they established Spogárd & Van der Vaart and bought Jol Golf design at a time where Project Stippelberg was just about to take off. Therefore, it was the young comets destiny to join forces, with some assistance from architect Gerard Jol, on what developed into the award-winning layout.
Along with the work on Stippelberg, Spogárd & Van der Vaart have worked with several other projects inEurope. One of the larger recent jobs has been inDenmarkwhere the partners have transformed 18 out of the 45 holes at Himmerland Golf &Country Club. The owner, entrepreneur Lars Larsen, has investedmore than 130 million DKK in a massive update of the New Course to make it the first PGA course inDenmark. The course will reopen in 2012.
To place this years performance of ”Development of the Year” in further perspective, “The quality of the nominees this year has been absolutely without comparison,” according to GOLF Inc.
Subsequently the Judging Panel extraordinarily extended the number of finalists to include three winners and five finalists. Winners are Golfbaan Stippelberg in theNetherlands(1st Prize), Old MacDonald in Bandon Dunes,Oregon(2nd Prize), and the Mission Hills inHainan,China(3rd Prize).
The five finalists are Barnbougle Lost Farm inTasmania, Blackjack Crossing inLajitas,Texas, Castiglione del Bosco inTuscany,Italy, Eléa Golf Club inCyprusand Gary Player signature course Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Bulgaria.