Design Notes

Richardson | Danner to redesign in India

Arnold Palmer’s Thad Layton reopens Seattle Golf Club; Raymond Hearn to renovate Buffalo’s Moon Brook; West Africa’s Cape Verde welcomes Viveiro

Hyderabad Golf Club features holes within the Golconda Fort, a protected monument in India.

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> The Hyderabad Golf Association in Telangana, India, has chosen Richardson | Danner Golf Course Architects to redesign and make additions to Hyderabad Golf Club. Among the priorities are to design and integrate new state-of-the-art practice facilities and an academy to help grow the game and provide opportunities to train golfers coming out of Hyderabad for competitive play.

"Our mission is to bring international exposure to the City of Hyderabad," said Hyderabad Golf Association’s president Dayakar Reddy. "We are looking to the future to train athletes for the Olympics and to play internationally. As part of this goal, we will transform the course to be able to host major tournaments, while preserving and enhancing the golf experience for members and local residents."

Hyderabad Golf Club is one of the world’s unique golf courses, with golf holes built within a protected monument, the Golconda Fort. The original construction of the course in 1992 came about as a result of the Telangana Tourism Development Corporation’s objective to create a sustainable recreation and tourism facility for the State of Telangana on the Indian Peninsula. 

A redesign took place in 2010, with local architect Nandan Heblikar assisting. In 2014, some holes were rerouted and four new holes were constructed. Portions of the course play along the fort’s granite walls that were built between 1512 and 1687, an era when Bahamani rulers took possession of Golconda Hill and created the fort to protect its citizens. Over the years, the fort’s walls and structures have been restored with the golf course carefully conforming to the Archaeological Survey of India, which is responsible for preserving the fort.

"Hyderabad Golf Club is an amazing story of preservation, while at the same time, providing an opportunity for more international exposure," said Jeff Danner, who will manage the project for Richardson | Danner. "It also allows for people to learn about one of the greatest archeological sites in India. The course has evolved over time and has been carefully constructed with the fort, expanding gradually from three holes to its present-day 18-hole version. It’s a diamond in the rough."

Forrest Richardson, principal golf course architect with Richardson | Danner and a former president of the ASGCA, has identified three primary objectives with the upcoming work.

"We are here to preserve, improve and prepare," he said. "Preserve involves taking great care with the way our golf course plans will interact with the fort. Improve will focus on our work to bring a common design theme to the course, to add tees for more length and to serve beginners and those just out to enjoy a casual round. Finally, Prepare is our vision to create the new academy to serve a new generation of golfers across the Hyderabad region." 

Richardson | Danner will work with the club and local authorities to lengthen the current 6,300-yard layout through the use of additional land that may become available. “We have several approaches to adding yardage,” Danner said. “We are committed to retaining the interest and strategy that makes Hyderabad one of the most interesting courses in golf. Essentially, this is a golf course situated within a living museum, and that should always be respected."

Planning and design work have already begun, with construction of the academy commencing as the first phase of work.  

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> Seattle Golf Club reopens this month after a renovation by Thad Layton of Arnold Palmer Design Company. Layton developed a master plan in 2017 for the venerable club, which played host to the 1952 U.S. Amateur and the 1961 Walker Cup, among many significant amateur events. Arnold Palmer and his team redesigned the course in 1996. Layton oversaw the renovation of greens, greenside bunkers and green surrounds and endeavored to boost the playability of the layout for all levels of players.

"Years of sand splash buildup from greenside bunkers had eliminated some of the most interesting hole positions," Layton said. "On these greens, we restored the old perimeters and elevations to increase pinnable areas and to promote drainage. We also completely rebuilt five greens to permanently solve playability issues that arose from severe internal slopes."

Layton also changed fairway bunkering on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 10th holes and new tees were added at 1, 5, 9 and 16.

"Our objective was to maintain Seattle Golf Club’s storied past while enhancing the strategic options and beauty of one of the most iconic clubs in the Pacific Northwest," Layton said. "That amounted to a three-pronged approach of restoration, renovation and remodel. We tightened up the relationship of greenside bunkers and eliminated sand in key areas to increase recovery options. We also replaced organics in the approaches with sand to get the ball rolling in what can be a very wet climate."

> Midwestern restoration specialist Raymond Hearn is heading east, for a special project in the land of hot wings and great cold-weather football. Moon Brook Country Club, in the Buffalo, New York, area, has chosen Hearn to develop a master plan for a course renovation of its 1918 Willie Park Jr. design. Preliminarily, Hearn is engaged in researching the club and course history and in soliciting a wish list from the membership.

"My work will involve restoring as much of Willie Park’s original design as possible that makes sense with the modern game," Hearn said. "I will embark on specific restoration tasks such as restoring original angles of attack in the fairways, restoring original edges to greens and gaining historic pin placements along with original bunker edges that were lost over time."

Hearn will pair with course superintendent Howard Ellis and the club’s board of directors, committee members and the club historian in the effort to bring back as much Park as possible. Seven of Park’s original holes and 11 of his greens are part of the current course. Hearn calls them “must see examples of Park’s design talents for fans and scholars.

> In March, Viveiro Golf Course opened its first nine (of 27) holes on the desert island of Sal, part of the Cape Verde Islands of Africa. The archipelago nation’s development, located 350 miles off the west coast of Africa will include an additional 18 holes, a hotel, recreational facilities and a residential community. Italian agronomist Fulvio Bani is spearheading the design project.

“The strong influence of the wind, which comes exclusively from the northeast and can sometimes reach up to 65 knots, and the need to save water, led us to create grassy playing areas interrupted by coarse sand sections,” Bani said. “My design avoids penalizing the average golfer. We have used sand that is resistant to the force of wind—The few sand bunkers are small and deep to avoid their emptying by the wind. We also considered the wind’s presence for the placement of tees.”

Playing surfaces will be comprised of Paspalum Vaginatum from the Pure Dynasty variety.

“High temperatures heavily influenced our choice as they needed to be resistant to the hot climate and to the lack of water,” Bani said. “Pure Dynasty turned out to be less demanding in terms of fertilizing, resistant to fungal diseases, and practically unassailable by weeds, resulting in zero use of any type of crop protection products.”