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Re-building for the future

15 April 2020 / Golf /

Our Golf Course and Estates Manager, Phill Chiverton, lifts the lid on the incredible work that’s been taking place on our wonderful golf course. We caught up with him recently to find out more about the work that he and his team have been working on this year involving a renovation project that has seen the reinvigoration of all 90 bunkers.

Phil Chiverton, Golf Course Manager at The Grove

Why is this bunker work required?

It may surprise you to know that The Grove has now been open for 17 years. During the life of any golf course it will need additional love and attention beyond the day-to-day upkeep, and this bunker project is the latest major investment to keep it in world-class, tournament condition.
The Grove’s bunkers are a prominent feature of our golfing challenge and, as a consequence, they get a lot of use!

Because of this, remedial repairs were required, especially around the edges, and we also needed to attend to weak areas of turf, re-address bunker shaping lines, and manage native grass areas surrounding them. We also took the opportunity to review the relationship between mown and unmown areas, and how they marry together from a playability and aesthetic perspective.

Has all the work been completed by the greenkeeping team?

Whilst we have an incredible team of greenkeepers here at The Grove, we also wanted to get an external perspective, so we approached the golf course’s original designer, Kyle Phillips, and another member of his team, shaping specialist, Theo Travis, to share our challenges and to explain what we were trying to achieve.

They both very quickly understood our project aims. Kyle and Theo work globally together on Kyle’s other golf course projects, they know each other’s work inside out and Theo interprets what Kyle is looking for when re-shaping bunker complexes.

How has the bunker project worked?

With photos and videos taken of each bunker, before, during and after completion, Kyle and Theo quickly got into an approval system. Theo marked the new grassing lines for the turf and our greenkeeping team then carried out work to bunker bases, prepared the ground and re-turfed.
We also brought in other specialist contractors. Without their help, this project would have been impossible to complete.

Bunker renovations at The Grove - Winter 2020The Grove Bunker Renovations Winter 2020Bunker Renovations at The Grove - Winter 2020Bunker Renovations at The Grove - Winter 2020

Have you also replaced the bunker sand?

We actually carried out a 1,000-tonne sand exchange to every bunker in 2016, in preparation for hosting the British Masters, so we did not need to replace the sand again. However, we have topped up certain bunkers, where required, to ensure sand depths are consistent. To be exact, two inches of depth to the faces and four inches in the bases.

How long has the renovation project taken?

We dedicated 10 weeks to this project, and it was successfully delivered thanks to a monumental effort from our team. Our target was to complete works on 1.8 bunkers per day, which did prove challenging over the winter period, when you consider the amount of rainfall the UK experienced. As you can imagine, this project has taken a huge amount of planning from the perspective of managing resources; having additional plant and machinery on-site, and the delivery of new turf. It has also been vital to maintain very clear communication with our golf operations team, who have been keeping our customers informed on arrival and during their rounds.

Did you have to close the course to undertake the work?

We actually remained open for play at all times, which was an incredible achievement. We adopted a working system whereby we focused on three holes at any time, only bringing a temporary green into play to ensure staff safety while working around the green complexes.

Did the work extend beyond the bunker work?

We are also extending the putting green that sits directly outside The Stables by approximately 200m2. This will make a huge difference to the visitor experience, especially on busy days or when there are corporate or group golf events taking place. We have also built a new tee on the 5th hole, giving a slightly different challenge and angle of attack.

Read more about The Grove’s championship golf course including tips from Tom Minshull, our Head PGA Pro and see which famous faces have graced our immaculate greens over the years.

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