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The Troon Golf Collection – The Grove

The Grove

When it comes to luxury golf hideaways in and around London, The Grove, which is managed by Troon Golf, certainly takes some beating. A Grade II listed mansion set on 300 acres of picturesque Hertfordshire countryside, The Grove boasts just about every facility, amenity and service you could expect of a 5* resort and its proximity to London makes it the ideal base for an extended British Golf Holiday as well as for a stay and play golf break.

With all on offer at this amazing venue, it comes as no surprise that The Grove has seen a long list of celebrity guests including the likes of Tiger Woods and even Queen Victoria enjoyed weekend breaks here. One thing’s for sure; if it’s good enough for a golfing royalty and actual royalty as well then it then it’s certainly good enough for us Weekend Warriors!

Here we take you on a fly by journey through some of the things on offer at London’s finest golfing retreat.

Location, location, location…

Situated in the beautiful county of Hertfordshire, just outside London, The Grove is one of the most luxurious and all encompassing golf resorts in England. As well as being great for a weekend getaway, The Grove is quite simply the perfect base for golfers from overseas who are looking to explore the golfing riches in and around The Big Smoke.

– Golf –

The Grove’s championship course, which was designed by Kyle Phillips, one of the foremost golf course architects of recent years, is the resort’s crown jewel. The course is kept in immaculate condition all year round and as there are no members; guests are assured to receive an incredibly warm welcome from staff who are very focused on customer service.

Kyle Philips’ edgy design makes a round of golf at The Grove a thrilling experience. As you can see from the picture above, your short game will have to be on song if you miss the greens with your approaches!

SOURCE:  Your Golf Travel

Traveling Life: Kyle Phillips

Yas Links

The American golf-course architect – who never travels without a pair of golf shoes in his luggage – tells Minty Clinch why Abu Dhabi’s Yas Links features among the favorites in his personal portfolio.

As a child Kyle Phillips played golf five times a week, a dedication that resulted in a handicap of two when he was 16. Instead of turning to the professional game, he signed up for a five-year program in landscape architecture at Kansas State University. His studies included golf-related courses and he developed a useful network of contacts in the industry. When he graduated in 1981, he joined Robert Trent Jones Jr’s west-coast office at Palo Alto as vice president and golf architect, training and experience that served him well when he set up Kyle Phillips Golf Design in 1997. Within three years, he’d penetrated the tough Scottish market, turning a stretch of farmland on the coast south of St Andrews in Kingsbarns, widely viewed as the best golf course designed in the modern era (post 1960). After it opened in 2000, Kyle career took off. In 2010, Yas Links, his ground-breaking course in Abu Dhabi, earned similar acclaim. Over the last decade, he’s added The Grove outside London, Dundonald near Glasgow and Verdura in Sicily to an increasingly impressive portfolio. At the inaugural St Andrews Golf Festival in 2012, his work in 30 countries was honored with the first ever award for Excellence in Golf Course Architecture.

How much do you travel for your work?

I lose track of how many trips I make but it’s a constant round of airports and long-haul flights. Flying time is a chance to catch up on sleep or do some intensive paperwork. My reading is the Architectural Digest or some other periodical, often downloaded onto my iPad. I only watch a movie when I need to nod off. I try to fit the maximum number of meetings into business hours so I fly early in the morning or late at night. Not surprisingly, my wife is against that kind of schedule so she doesn’t come with me unless I’m prepared to add on a few days of pleasure. That doesn’t happen very often, but she did enjoy the chance to road test the five star hotel and spa at the opening at the Verdura Golf Resort in 2010.

Where is home?

Although the name doesn’t suggest it, Granite Bay is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada outside of Sacramento. The bay is in Lake Folsom rather than on the coast. We raised our kids there and it’s still the ultimate in low stress as far as I’m concerned. I play golf nearly every day, which allows me to keep a single digit handicap. Although there are resorts nearby, I don’t ski or snowboard because I’ve got bum knees. I go to the gym with my wife sometimes but I’m defiantly not a bodybuilder.

Why did you go to the Middle East?

The height of the building boom in the early 21st century was the right time to explore the possibilities. I knew Dubai had several good courses, but none of them were outstanding. Abu Dhabi had a sand course, but the National was the only 18-hole grass layout so there was lots of scope.

What was your initial impression of the Yas Links site?

I was delighted by the barren strip of sand. It was even more featureless than the wet fields that became Kingsbarns, so I was able to let my imagination rip from day one. I look to natural Scottish and Irish courses from the Victorian and Edwardian eras – Prestwick, Lahinch, Royal Portrush – for inspiration, but on this occasion, I had to create fairways, bunkers and greens from scratch. My raw materials were heat resistant varieties of grass and sand imported from Saudi Arabia rather than dunes and turf cropped by sheep for centuries.

What did you like about Abu Dhabi when you went there regularly?

The big surprise was that it’s so up-to-date. I really enjoyed being part of the melting pot, working with people from different cultures and languages. Not that I can speak any of them. My grandmother came from Turin, but my Italian doesn’t extend beyond grazie mille and spaghetti bolognaise. Luckily, English has gone global so I was able to enjoy dinners in town with employees from around the world.

Where is your main focus now?

At the moment, golf cash is flowing east to China and South Korea. My project at South Cape, a mountainous coast south of Seoul, is a very different architectural challenge. The granite landscape isn’t suitable for a links course, but my staff are serious and hard working and the technology is excellent. I’m very impressed with South Korea’s organization, precision and above all its cleanliness. We could learn from that in the United States.

What are your other works in progress?

The Al Maaden Golf Resort outside Marrakech was my introduction to Morocco. In an arid area, they wanted water features that look like ponds in formal Moorish gardens, very different from the standard lakes you find around the world. Moroccans work to live, rather than living to work as they do in South Korea, so the organization is a bit chaotic, but one thing led to another and I’m now on site at Taghazout, a surfer’s paradise to the north of Agadir. The terrain for the course runs along the top of 60 meter cliff so there will be ocean views from every hole.

What’s your “must pack” for any trip?

My golf shoes. That way I can turn up at any course, get rental clubs and play. As everything in my luggage has to have real utility, they’re also handy to wear on site, especially when I need to get a grip in the mud. My other essentials are drafting scales, earplugs and eyeshades.

What do you do without?

No comb, no hair dryer. My friends are losing their hair, but mine’s long gone. The bonus is the look older while I stay the same!

SOURCE: Ultra Travel Magazine

Kingsbarns Golf Links in Scotland Earns Golf Tourism Scotland Award


Kingsbarns Golf Links is looking forward to the New Year after finishing 2012 as it started: by winning a prestigious award.

A successful season for the East Neuk of Fife links was completed in style when it was named the Course of the Year at the renowned Golf Tourism Scotland awards for the second year in succession. It was the fifth time Kingsbarns has won the award in only its twelfth year of operation.

The award follows on from Kingsbarns being ranked the Number One Modern Course (built after 1960) in Great Britain and Ireland by the respected American magazine Golf Week for the third consecutive time at the start of the season.

The welcome recognition was achieved at the same time as Kingsbarns continued to perform well despite the challenging economic situation. More than 25,000 rounds were played at the modern links between March and November and the course continues to receive excellent feedback from golfers for its emphasis on delivering outstanding customer service.

Three innovative new programmes were implemented as part of Kingsbarns’ customer service strategy in the 2012 season. A “Cheerio Concierge” was introduced to assist golfers when they complete the round to ensure they benefit from the services and facilities on offer in the clubhouse. A new improved caddie programme was introduced by the Caddie Master Sean Wiseman. Kingsbarns is supporting the caddie experience fully by guaranteeing that if the customer does not believe his caddie to have enhanced his round on the Links, he will receive a full refund. Finally, golfers can warm up from grass tees giving them the true links feel (except on bad weather days).

Alan Hogg, Chief Executive of Kingsbarns, said: “This has been my first full year in charge at Kingsbarns and I believe we have made great progress in a short period of time. It is gratifying to receive two such prestigious awards and is welcome recognition for the hard work and dedication shown by the team here toward delivering an outstanding experience for golfers.

“We place a great deal of emphasis on maintaining a high standard of customer service and the new programmes we implemented this season are very much in line with our aim of encouraging golfers to tell their friends about the experience they enjoy here and to keep coming back themselves. We will be working hard over the winter to prepare for 2013. We want to ensure that we continue to improve the experience for golfers at Kingsbarns and to exceed their expectations.”

Kingsbarns carried on with its work for charity this year with around 40 different worthy causes benefiting from its support. The highlight was a special golf day in September hosted by former Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie which raised around £40,000 for the Elizabeth Montgomerie Foundation. The Foundation, named after his mother who died from cancer, is currently working to raise £4 million for two new Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres in Scotland.

Bookings are now being taken for 2013. The green fee prices remain frozen at £175.00 from 23 March through 30 April 2013 and at £195.00 from 1 May – November 2013. To book a tee time please contact + 44 (0) 1334 460860 or

Kingsbarns Golf Links
Located just seven miles south-east of the Home of Golf at St Andrews Kingsbarns is a must-play seaside links course which regularly features in top 100 golf courses rankings in the world. Designed by Kyle Phillips, the golf course opened in 2000 and is set on land which gently slopes down towards the coastline, so nearly every hole boasts spectacular views of the sea. At 7,181 yards from the championship tees, Kingsbarns is a formidable enough test to be included in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship rota each autumn alongside the Old Course at St Andrews and Carnoustie Golf Links. Kingsbarns prides itself in excellent customer service and great accessibility for tee times. Visitors are treated as members for the day and enjoy assistance from the moment they step out of their car until they leave.

Source:  World Golf

Kingsbarns Golf Links to Host Final Qualifying for Ricoh Women’s British Open


Kingsbarns Golf Links has been selected to host the Final Qualifying for the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open on Monday, 29th July 2013, ahead of the Championship proper which will be played for the second time over the Old Course, St Andrews, 1st – 4th August.

Kingsbarns Golf Links is ranked amongst the top 100 courses in the world and, located just seven miles from the Old Course, provides the perfect stage for the curtain raiser to the 2013 Championship where the world’s best women will seek to show their links skills in the most famous corner of the golfing world.

Alan Hogg, Chief Executive of Kingsbarns Golf Links explained, “We are delighted that the LGU and IMG have selected us to host Final Qualifying for one of the world’s leading professional tournaments. Not only are we excited to play such an important part in the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open we are delighted to be supporting the Ladies Golf Union and women’s golf. We hope this will showcase the magnificent facilities we have here at Kingsbarns and very much hope it is an association that we can develop in the coming years as we look to build our Championship portfolio.”

Shona Malcolm, Ladies’ Golf Union’s CEO, added, “The Championship Committee is very happy to be adding Kingsbarns Golf Links to the rotation of prestigious clubs who host Final Qualifying for the Ricoh Women’s British Open Championship. We know Kingsbarns will be a popular choice among the players and spectators and we very much look forward to seeing which players will conquer the challenges offered by this magnificent links course and claim the qualifying places available.”

The Ricoh Women’s British Open was founded by the LGU in 1976 and is staged in conjunction with IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing company. The event has been co-sanctioned by the LPGA and LET since 1994 and gained Major status in 2001.

For further information please visit or contact:

Michele Mair, PR Manager, IMG


SOURCE:  Ladies European Tour

Interview with Al Maaden Course Designer Kyle Phillips


Nestled in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains against a stunning scenic backdrop, the Al Maaden Golf Resort was designed by Kyle Phillips and opened at the beginning of 2010. We caught up with Mr Phillips, a member of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA), ahead of the Lalla Aicha Tour School to discuss his first golf course design project in Morocco.

Mr. Phillips, you have 25 years of experience in the golf course design industry. Can you start by telling us which courses you designed prior to Al Maaden?

Kingsbarns in Scotland: it opened in 2000 and it immediately went to top 50 in the world. It was the venue of the Dunhill Cup. Other courses that the Moroccans are also probably familiar with would be Yas Linksin Abu Dhabi, which is also in the top 100 and opened a couple of years ago. Every magazine and publication has it as number one in the UAE. Those are a couple of golf courses that people would know. And then, The Grove in London is a course that hosted the World Championship that I designed.

You are American, so when did you start to design golf courses in Europe?

Very early in my career. I worked with Robert Trent Jones Junior in his offices in California in 1991 and as Mr. Trent Jones senior got older, we were working in Asia and mainly in the west and he was working in the east, in Europe. So, as he got older, we started crossing over.

I was appointed in 1998 to be the architect for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, in Washington DC. This golf course, which opened in 1991, was the first venue for the President’s Cup. Then they had several tournaments, so I have been working with that club since 1998, but in that time, there were some changes they wanted to be made, so it was nice to be able to go and see him and present my ideas and talk to him about them and you know, to know that he was enthusiastic. It was nice to be the person that was selected to continue to on with the Jones’s legacy.

Even today if you go there and see the course, you won’t differentiate between what’s new and what has been changed and this is one of the things that I really pride myself on. Renovation work is to make the architecture look similar to what there was before. It‘s not like I impose my design on your design. I try to keep the same flavour and the same beauty and style.

Since you have been working with Robert Trent Jones’ company… Do you think your courses have a Robert Trent Jones’ feel or some influence of this style in designing?

One of the motivations for starting my own firm was to do different styles of architecture. I mean I enjoyed what we did and it was good but I really enjoy architecture in general, so, I know many people in fact that come to Al Maaden and then they say, ‘This looks like nothing you have ever designed… this is very different.’ Some of the principles of architecture are the same that I employed my philosophy about to the greens and strategy. I think this course is really good. I have received very good feedback from players of all skill levels that they find it’s enjoyable and as a resort, this is what it is meant to be. When you design resort courses, you have to try to make the people happy to come here to play, so they have an enjoyable day and here you have to try to make them feel like they are on a Moroccan kind-of garden setting. This was the idea of the landscape on this course.

How many golf courses have you designed approximately around the world?

Well, I do not know the exact number but around 50. I really have a passion for design, so I tend to really be into my practice. For me, if I can keep a couple of courses under construction every year, it would be ideal, and fortunately, I am able to do that.

Let’s talk about this course Al Maaden… When did you start this project?

We had the first meeting in 2006. We came here to do some planning. At that time, they already had the master plan here done. So, the general configuration of the course was here. In this master plan, they had an island of houses in the middle of the back nine so I was able to take out the island and reconfigure the golf a bit.

The terrain was literally flat; it had a slope from the top and slope to the bottom but almost like a table with a little slope. All of the landscaping and all of the features, everything: as you look around of this area, you know what it is like, it looks like a desert, with very little vegetation. So the idea was to create like a Moroccan garden. Because when you come here, you don’t come just to play golf, but to enjoy the day. Many people that are not playing professionally, they are for a beautiful walk, a nice relaxing time and they want to experience the place. The lakes, for example were designed by Fernando Caruncho, from Madrid, the landscape designer, which I thought it was a great idea.

What makes this course different from your other courses you have designed?

The style and the lakes, it’s very unique. The lakes were not at the beginning of the plan and then the lakes were brought in to reflect the style of landscape that Caruncho wanted to have here with these long reflecting pools and water stepping down and all of that.

How would you define this golf course?

The idea of the landscape is like a typical Moroccan garden. The strategy is that it’s for typical everyday player, a tourist and a resort-type level player. We can also bring the professional here, and put them on back tees.

Whose idea was to add those four modern art sculptures to the course?

This was the owner’s idea. So, there are mixed styles. How it’s decorated, with a landscape or like with the art, it can take a whole different feeling although the principles of the architecture are the same. It’s Moroccan style with a modern touch. So, I think even some modern art on that, as long as it is not imposed, it’s nice to have.Golf is much more than shooting a score. Golf is a walk with your friends. This is a very walk-able course.

How many projects are you working at the moment?

We have just finished a course in Korea and we have a second course in Morocco, Agadir, nearby the Ocean. Then, we are designing another course in Marrakech, towards the Atlas Mountains, so it has a stronger view of the mountains, but it will be completely different from this one. We are working on a private one in the south of France. In Spain, we rebuilt the tees, the greens and the bunkers at “Las Brisas” and we are planning another 9 hole-course in Madrid called “Puerta de Hierro”. Also there is another in California, right in the Silicon Valley.

Source:  Ladies European Tour

Kingsbarns Golf Links Awarded Golf Course of the Year


Kingsbarns Golf Links was voted the Golf Course of the Year at last night´s Golf Tourism Scotland (GTS) Gold Standard Awards held at the Fairmont, St Andrews Resort. The Awards are recognised as the industry Oscars and celebrate the greatest achievements throughout the industry from courses to hotels and resorts, tour operators, golf secretariats, caddie masters and transport companies.

Kingsbarns was named Course of the Year for the 4 time ahead of some of the leading courses in Scotland including Balcomie Links (Crail), the Carnoustie Championship Course, Castle Stuart Golf Links, Gullane No 2, Machrihanish Dunes, the New Course, St Andrews, North Berwick West Links, Pitlochry, the Old Course St Andrews, the Torrance Course (Fairmont St Andrews), the Ailsa Course at Turnberry and Western Gailes.

The GTS Gold Standard Awards are the only Scottish golf industry honours to be nominated by, and voted for by the industry itself. GTS members cast their votes online in the various categories.

Alan Hogg, the Chief Executive of Kingsbarns Golf Links, said, “We are delighted to receive such a prestigious award from the Scottish golf industry. We have had excellent customer feedback throughout the season but it is fantastic to learn that the industry rates Kingsbarns so highly as well.”

“To win the Golf Course of the Year Award is a great tribute to the Kingsbarns´ team of staff who have been working really hard all year to deliver the course in top class condition and to provide excellent customer service. The natural beauty and outstanding quality of the golf course make Kingsbarns a special place but it is the people who add the extra dimension to the whole Kingsbarns experience,” added Alan Hogg.

Kingsbarns has consistently performed well in international rankings including:

Golfweek, USA – No. 1 modern course (built after 1960) in Great Britain and Ireland
GOLF Magazine, USA – The Top 100 Courses in the World – Ranked no.54
GOLF Magazine, USA – The 50 Greatest Courses of the last 50 Years – Ranked no.11, Ranked no.1 in Europe
Golf Digest, USA – Top 100 Best Courses outside the United States – Ranked no.18
Golf Monthly, UK – UK and Ireland Top 100 Courses – Ranked no.11
Golf World, UK – Top 100 Courses You Must Play – Ranked no.5
Golf World, UK – Top 100 Courses in the World – Ranked no. 34, ranked no. 15 in Europe

SOURCE:  Kingsbarns

Golf Management Europe: Back To The Future


The year of 1973 will live long in memory of the members of Real Club de Golf Las Brisas. Not only did the course host the Spanish Amateur Open but it was also the setting for the World Cup of Golf – the sport’s oldest worldwide team competition.

The tournament was won by Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller, the latter establishing the course record of 65.The layout drew praise from all who played it, culminating in the former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger later declaring it was the best course he had ever played.

The layout at Las Brisas had only been open for three years when the American duo romped to victory, yet it had already hosted the first of three Spanish Opens and would later stage another World Cup of Golf in 1989.These were heady days for the Malaga club.

Fast forward to the spring of 2012 and Las Brisas is readying itself for a €2 million renovation project that would send the Robert Trent Jones Senior design hurtling into the 21st century.

“When we refurbished the clubhouse, that was a big investment but it’s not as big as this,” says Paul Muñoz, the club’s general manager. “The clubhouse project didn’t create history; this refurbishment will. Since it was established in 1968, this is the biggest thing to happen to the club.”

Although the club had hosted some of the world’s best players, the glory days were long gone and it was clear improvements had to be made if Las Brisas was to stay in Europe’s top flight (in GolfWorld’s latest round-up of the best continental courses, Las Brisas dropped 40 places).

The club had no choice other than calling in a designer with a clear vision for the club’s future and an eye on its past.

He would also need an understanding of the philosophy adopted by the club’s original architect, as Muñoz explains: “We spoke to a number of architects, but Kyle Phillips seemed to have the same philosophy as Robert Trent Jones Senior,” he says.

“He had also refurbished the only Robert Trent Jones-named club in the US, so we thought he was the person most closely linked to that approach.”

Perhaps best known for the run-away success of Kingsbarns Golf Links near St Andrews, Kyle Phillips has an enviable reputation of producing natural-looking layouts heavily influenced by links golf.

He also takes on renovation projects and has been entrusted with some high profile projects including the overhaul of The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Virginia ahead of the 2000 and 2005 President’s Cups.

At Las Brisas, Phillips saw a chance to tread in the great man’s footsteps once again.

“It was an opportunity to keep the same concept of the course but refine some elements,” Phillips explains.

“To do this, I put on my Robert Trent Jones Senior hat and imagined what kind of things he would have done naturally if he walked out here today.

“Of course the place is totally different and the game of golf has changed dramatically since he laid it out in the mid 1960s, but we were trying to be respectful to what was there and the history of the place.We also wanted to give the members something that looked familiar to them, but was totally fresh and new.”

As a private club, very little happens at Las Brisas without the approval of its 1,320 members who each pay an entry fee of €20,000 and annual subs of €2,120.

Although this endorsement could have been a stumbling block, the plan to upgrade the front nine while keeping the back nine open for play received overwhelming support.

“We only had funds to do nine holes and the members were not happy to ask for a loan in the current financial situation we have in Europe,” Muñoz says frankly.

“Things are not looking good, so the members were not comfortable getting a loan to cover the full project and they also weren’t happy for the course to be closed for eight or nine months.This way we had funds to refurbish nine holes and still had nine to play.”

Although the original plans focused on rebuilding the greens to USGA specifications and introducing a new irrigation system, the scheme also opened up possibilities of assessing the strategy of each hole and reconsidering bunker placement.

“The objective was to update the drainage and irrigation systems while revising the design,” impressed Muñoz. “As part of that, Kyle added new back tees and new bunkers where they needed to be more in play, while at the same time restoring the Robert Trent Jones Senior philosophy.”

The challenge of striking a balance between changing the course to counter new ball and club technologies while re-establishing the original design philosophy is one that Phillips clearly enjoyed.

“When you have a course like Las Brisas, which is fundamentally a good layout, you are looking for opportunities to bring back the original strategy when the hole was set out. In this case, there were opportunities to pull back tees to bring some of the bunkers and dog-legs back into play.”

Despite the retrospective nature of the project, Phillips insists it wasn’t a restoration. “This wasn’t a restoration project by any stretch of the imagination,” says Phillips.

“What does that really mean? Is it a literal restoration where everything is put back in its original place?

“If it is then you haven’t restored the strategy of the hole because people hit the ball differently these days. I subscribe to the idea of restoring the hole to how it was played.”

This approach resulted in the introduction of ten new greens including a new practice green, 50 rebuilt bunkers, two new bunkers and two bunkers being removed.

The work, which was carried out by Southern Golf, took place between April and the end of August with the abrupt time-frame intended to cause minimal disruption to the club’s members, many of whom are retired and own second homes in the area.

With the first nine holes due to be unveiled officially in December, Phillips is already receiving positive comments from the people who matter the most – the members.

“Sometimes the best feedback is from members who were opposed to the project before we began,” he says mischievously. “Now they are able to see the course, they are surprised by some of the shots they have into the greens, yet they still see the same course they have always played. Ultimately, that’s what you want.”

SOURCE: Golf Management Europe

Zero waste and so much more at Dundonald

Dundonald Golf Links

Dundonald Golf Links on the west coast of Scotland sits amongst some of the finest links in the country, including Royal Troon, Turnberry and Prestwick.    Not only does it provide great golf but it achieves this with a very low impact on the environment, having achieved zero waste to landfill status.  This means that all of their waste is either re-used or recycled and they do their utmost to reduce the amount of waste they produce in the first instance.  Local waste management contractors uplift the waste that cannot be dealt with on site for recycling, which includes ‘difficult’ waste such as tyres, batteries and oil.  This notable achievement, possibly unique in the golfing world, is far from the end of Dundonald’s effort to enrich the environment:

  • they have instigated energy efficiency measures in the clubhouse and greenkeeping facility
  • they carefully time course maintenance practices so as not to disturb wildlife, e.g. cutting rough outside the skylark breeding season
  • they enhance biodiversity through sensitive habitat creation, e.g. water features, open rough and wild flower areas for pollinators
  • they encourage wildlife by leaving wood piles for insects, building a soil wall for martins and installing bee hives.

Future evolution of this philosophy includes looking to self-sufficiency for the clubhouse in terms of its vegetable supply, with much of the rest of their menu being locally sourced.

Over the last 6 years, the driving force behind this incredible programme has been greenkeeper, Amanda Dorens.  “It wasn’t easy getting this off the ground, but once everyone agreed with the philosophy the actual practical work soon became second nature”, she explained and added “it really is a massive team effort!”

They do not work in isolation either.  Sitting next door is a Wildlife Reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Gill Smart, of the SWT, commented “Dundonald Links is a good neighbour to have next to our Gailes Marsh Wildlife Reserve.  It’s extensive out-of-play areas provide continuity of natural habitat across this increasingly fragmented landscape.  The butterflies, bees and other wild creatures that breed in either area have the opportunity to disperse into similar habitats on the other, making for more sustainable populations overall.  The Scottish Wildlife Trust is looking forward to exploring more ways of working in partnership with Dundonald Links to benefit the wildlife of the Ayrshire coast.”  Further collaboration has seen the development of a nature trail for use by groups of visiting children from local schools – a great way to learn about their natural environment.

All of this has taken investment, mostly in time but also with some financial pump priming, but Dundonald is beginning to see real payback in terms of cost savings across the board which are more than making up for the initial outlay.  Guy Redford, Dundonald’s Director of Golf, is committed to the sustainable business practices that have been established, “it is right for the environment, for our local community and it makes real business sense”, he concluded.


Classic Courses: California Golf Club

After a brilliant restoration, this rolling layout that Alister Mackenzie left his mark on reassumes its place in the pantheon of Great Bay Area Courses. – By Tom Cunneff

Straddling opposite sides of Lake Merced, San Francisco Golf Club and U.S. Open Host The Olympic Club have rightfully earned their reputations as the city’s best courses. But seven miles to the southeast, there’s another club that is every bit their equal after a $13 Million renovation:  California Golf Club of San Francisco. In 2007-8 Kyle Phillips restored the course to its Golden Age splendor when Alister Mackenzie redid all the bunkers and few of the greens.

“Before when people came to San Francisco they thought of just two courses—Olympic and San Francisco,” says Phillips, whose other credits include Kingsbarns and Dundonald in Scotland, and Yas Links in Abu Dhabi. “But now, mainly through word of mouth, there’s another one that people are saying, ‘We’ve got to check this out.’ It’s been gratifying.”

What visitors find are long-range views of the Bay Area, stunning bunkering, and rolling terrain with firm-and-fast conditions. Unlike most other layouts in coastal California where spongy poa and sticky kikuyu dominate, Cal Club features fine fescue and colonial bent fairways and bent greens that allow the ground game to flourish. Read More…

The Architect of Every Golfer’s Dream

A Imagine a ride in one of the first Ferraris, and being driven by the car’s creator, Enzo Ferrari.

You could ask him about the distinctive roar of the engine, the uncomfortable seats, and twiddle the knobs until he responded with a stream of invectives.

I had a similar experience recently when I played a round of golf with Kyle Phillips, the architect of Yas Links Golf Club.

Kyle who? you might be asking. The world of golf architecture is split in two: on one side Arnold Palmer; Jack Nicklaus; Ernie Els; even Tiger Woods – legendary names of golf recognised the world over; and in the other camp Pete Dye; Robert Trent Jones; and Kyle Phillips – hardly household names. Read More…