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.
Broken Sound Club, USA
Off the back of hosting a Senior PGA Tour event, several million dollars has been pledged to the local community, while there is also the intent to contribute $1,000,000 to the Boca Raton Community Hospital, the designated charity of the tournament.
Hilversumsche Golf Club, Netherlands
A regular stop on the European Tour, Hilversumsche sits outside Amsterdam in a Natura 2000 designated heathland. The course hosts a great diversity of valuable ecosystems, with approximately 80 bird species inventoried.
Ljunghusens Golf Club, Sweden
Ljunghusens decided to compress all their cardboard waste and have since reduced recycling collections from once a week to just 4 times a year. This comes with cost savings and reduces transport needs and their carbon footprint.
Machrihanish Dunes, Scotland
Machrihanish Dunes enhances and improves the ecological value of its SSSI designated site. No irrigation or chemicals are used on the fairways and sheep are brought on in the off-season to help keep fescue grasses in check.
Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort, Mexico
In the Mexican Caribbean golfers coexist with crocodiles, jaguars, and many tropical birds. Moon Palace employs experts to monitor these populations and its highly trained course management team use 25% biological products in their turf programme.
Royal Haagsche, Netherlands
Royal Hague Golf & Country Club lies in a protected network of reserves. The club has made it their responsibility to improve and optimize the open duneland, as well as caring for the parabolic dunes and slacks found on its own terrain.
Belas Clube de Campo, Portugal
The design of Belas Clube de Campo ensures that all course run-off is collected into lakes before being re-used for irrigation, rendering any negative impacts on water quality virtually impossible. The club also collects rainwater for building roofs.
Broken Sound Club, USA
To alleviate the quantity of treated waste water being dumped onto the reefs off the coast of Boca Raton, Broken Sound Club now takes reclaimed water from the city (via a new 13.2 million dollar line) and filters it through the golf courses.
Centro Nacional de Golf, Spain
Thanks to the investment of the Real Federación Española de Golf, this former landfill on the outskirts of Madrid has been transformed into an ecologically rich space that provides healthy recreation and employment to local people.
Golfclub Zwolle, Netherlands
Zwolle has a mostly closed water system, independent of district waterways. Drainage water flows into am attenuation area and exits the site via a one-way valve that prevents nutrient rich agricultural runoff from entering the golf course’s water sources.