European Golf Design
Project Architect - Irie Fields
What was your role in this project and how did you become involved?
European Golf Design were appointed as architects to design the course in association with Ian Woosnam. We were introduced to the project when it was still in its infancy, back in 2003, by the founder Val Kempadoo who has been the main driving force behind the project.
What can people expect when playing Irie Fields Golf Course?
As with the rest of the Kittitian Hill development golfers should be prepared for something a little different. The golf course itself has a deliberately natural look and feel that fits into the rolling landscape and works with natural features, particularly the numerous ghauts (pronounced “guts” which is a local term for the gulleys and ravines cut by water running off the mountain) to create an exciting and challenging course - especially when the trade winds are blowing!
What do you feel are the aspects which distinguish Irie Fields GC, its design and build, from the other golf courses?
While the main reason to visit Irie Fields is to play golf what will really make the course so different is the other experiences that you will have whilst there. You can’t help but take in the panoramic views across the Caribbean Sea to the neighbouring Islands of St Barths, St Maarten and St Eustatius that continue throughout your round. Then there is the lush tropical vegetation, which is so prominent on the Mt Liamuiga, and offers golfers the chance for a bit of cool quiet shade as they pass through the densely vegetated ghauts, and, if you are lucky your caddy will help you pick some of the readily available juicy fruit that is being farmed as part of the golf course’s edible landscape for a small mid-round treat.
Hopefully though, one of the biggest differences won’t even be that noticeable to golfers. Following on from the sustainable practices that were implemented during construction is the desire for the course to be maintained organically, which we believe, will be the first warm season golf course to do so. This posed a number of challenges for the team during the grow-in, having to hand pull weeds for instance, but I’m sure the long term benefits will be worth all their extra hard work.
What drove the sustainability vision of the project? Did you see sustainability as a priority in the design of the golf course and if so which particularly areas of the design did you think were of the highest priority?
The vision for the project was largely formed and guided by Val who saw the opportunity to develop a resort that, unlike so many developments in the Caribbean, blended the local community and its unique culture with a sustainable ethos to create something that was truly Kittitian. We were very mindful of this from day 1 and sustainability was integral in everything we did from moment we picked up our pencils through to seeding the last hole. This meant challenging the way we did everything and asking if there was a better way, leading to a number of site specific initiatives which improved the overall sustainability of the development. The result was that we were able to significantly reduce the amount of earthworks required and resources that needed to be imported onto the island.
What led you to use the GEO Developments programme and what were benefits did you find in going through the programme?
We were already aware of the GEO Developments programme and it was obvious very early on that the plans Val and the team in St Kitts had would be a natural fit with the GEO ethos. GEO were involved throughout the design and construction process and worked well with the whole team. They often helped to formalise and document the sustainable initiatives being discussed which, in turn, helped us to deliver them on site.
What do you feel were your main lessons learned for the future sustainable golf course developments during the design and construction of Irie Fields GC?
We have long believed that each development and site should be treated on its own merits but working on a project like Irie Fields takes that to extremes. The number one thing we would say you need to do is to question everything and usually the solutions that you find will lead to a better result in terms of the final product and can often times also reduce costs.
Following your experience at Irie Fields GC do you plan to towards the GEO Certified mark on future developments and would you recommend this approach to other developers and designers?
We have already recommended the GEO programme to other developers so hopefully this is just the first of many golf courses that we are involved with that will complete the GEO programme.
European Golf Design is the joint venture design company of the European Tour and IMG. Formed in 1992 European Golf Design have designed over fifty courses throughout Europe, The Middle East and South Africa with another thirty currently in the design or construction phase. Previous projects include The Twenty Ten Ryder Cup Course at Celtic Manor, host to the 2010 Ryder Cup Matches and the Stadium Course at PGA Catalunya which is consistently ranked in the top ten courses in Continental Europe. Current projects under design and construction include developments in the UK, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Estonia and Turkey.
Recognition of Sustainability
Golf Du Rhin received press coverage worth an estimated €100,000 following the announcement of their GEO Certified award! This included golf industry press, television coverage, and even an article in Swiss Airlines Magazine.
OnCourse to Cost and Water Saving at The Home of Golf
At the Home of Golf, the St Andrews Links courses evaluated their irrigation as part of the OnCourse programme, and found simple ways to cut 25% of their water use on the course - saving water, energy...and money!
Turning Waste into Savings
Broken Sound's new composting facility that turns all biodegradable waste into an organic mulch, which is then spread on the courses turfgrass, saved the club $12,000 on fertilisers in year one alone. The money invested will be recouped within 4-5 years.
Cost-savings No Rough Task
With a more efficient rough management plan Hill Side Golf & Country Club achieved significant cost savings of €3,500 in 2012. 392 fewer hours were spent mowing rough so efforts could be focused on making further improvements across the facility.
Environmental Enhancement Supported by National Funding
Auchterarder G.C converted a biodiversity-poor drainage problem with funding secured through Landfill Tax Credits and Scottish Natural Heritage. The pond has been a great success story, removing maintenance headaches and improving golfer satisfaction.
Investing Now to Ensure a Prosperous Future
Golfpark Nuolen is growing golf in their community by providing free golf to any child under the age of 16. This includes free lessons and equipment. The €20,000 spent each year on this initiative will secure an estimated €23m over the next 20 years.
Looking to Locals for Supplies Cuts Costs and Footprint
Highlands Country Club moved to purchasing all 'in house' products from local suppliers who opened the door to negotiate a better deal for the club; boosting the local economy and pride at the club, while benefiting the balance sheet and the environment.
New Eco-Conscious Clubhouse Pays Off for Ljunghusen
Passive design was at the core of Ljunghusens clubhouse renovation. Although doubling in size they have cut electricity and fuel bills by €40,000 due to the installment of a large-scale ground source heat pump. Pay back on investment is only four years.
Protecting Native Species Lowers Costs and Improves Course
Removing the invasive and troublesome Brazilian Pepper plant at Venice G&CC allowed for the re-establishment of the native flora and fauna, creating the feeling of a more open golf course – and saving annual maintenance fees of approximately $5,000!
Sustainability Focus Invokes Pride in the Staff, Members and Beyond
A strong focus on sustainability has helped to connect club staff, members and the wider community for Broken Sound Club. Sustainability initiatives regularly feature in local papers and magazines and invoke a great sense of pride for all involved.