David Williams Golf Design

Green Renovation

Increasing numbers playing golf, particularly in the wetter winter months, have given many existing clubs increasing problems with the putting surfaces.  Many older clubs reluctantly turn to temporary greens during these conditions, often cut on adjacent areas of fairway, and look on with envy at more modern courses which provide excellent putting surfaces throughout the year and throughout all weather conditions.

What many such older clubs do not realise, is that the underlying cause of their wet greens is the result of deliberate design decisions made at the time of construction of the course.

In the early parts of the last century, and even until perhaps 40 or 50 years ago, golf was mainly played in the summer months with a very small percentage of play in the winter.   Automatic irrigation as we know it now was not generally available, and therefore the main problem facing early designers and constructors was ensuring that the greens remained playable during the drier summer months.   To achieve this, greens were often constructed with an underlying base of heavy clay, designed to retain the water in these dry periods.

The result is that, by the present day, these greens become unplayable in winter time, resulting in the need for temporary greens.  Hollow tining, coring and the addition of much extra drainage can slightly improve the situation, but often the underlying flaws in the initial construction remain insurmountable.  In these instance,s often complete re-building is the only guaranteed cure, and again can be undertaken either on a piecemeal basis with perhaps a couple of greens being re-built each year or, more dramatically, re-building all the greens in one operation.

Case Study

It was this alternative that was chosen by Northwood Golf Club in Middlesex when they wished to re-build all the greens on their course.

Although an excellent golf course and regarded as one of the finest golf course in the London area, the greens were built on the usual basis and rapidly became unplayable as rainfall increased in the autumn.   Invariably, on many greens, temporaries had to be brought into use from the end of September until drier conditions returned often as late as April; for half the year therefore, many of the holes were played to temporary greens.

DWGD were commissioned to re-design all the greens to a detailed brief given by Northwood Golf Club.   Although that brief stated that, in many instances, many of the greens were to be re-built as close as possible to their existing contours, DWGD quickly identified from the surveys that if reconstructed precisely, because of the faster speeds available, many areas may have become unputtable.   Accordingly, a few greens were modified and others extended to create additional pin positions.

Reconstruction was undertaken in autumn 2004 and completed in 12 weeks.  The greens were opened for play in the following June, and members and visitors were immediately impressed by the quality of the re-designed and reconstructed greens, which also included design work to many of the existing greenside bunkers.

Other recent green replacement projects include: