In 2013 I was approached by Cornerstone Golf Consultants to discuss the feasibility of building a flood storage embankment on the golf course at Handsworth Golf Club.
The Environment Agency was planning the construction of a flood storage reservoir within the flood plain of the River Tame as it flows to the north of the site. In recent years the river has been prone to bursting its banks and flooding the valley and the suburban area of Perry Barr and Witton. In 2010, the flooding was so extreme that 10,000 homes were flooded.
The golf course at Handsworth Golf Club has always been within the flood plain of the River Tame, therefore it has also been prone to flooding and, unfortunately, closure to play.
The flood embankment project, via the Environment Agency’s use of Statutory Powers, impacted golf club land, which included the existing 12th hole. This, therefore, would have a major influence on the golf course layout especially because the 12th hole was at the far northern end of the site and in order to replace this hole it would involve not just one hole, but a 3-hole loop.
We were appointed as a sub-consultant to Cornerstone Golf Consultants who were appointed as specialist golf consultants to C2HM Hill (now Jacobs). Jacobs are responsible for all design and engineering work relating to the flood storage reservoir and infrastructure associated with it. As golf course architects we worked closely with Cornerstone and Jacobs to deliver a solution for Handsworth Golf Club to provide an equivalent golf experience to that which was being impacted.
As part of this project Birmingham City Council agreed to exchange land alongside the existing 14th hole which allowed two new holes to be built to accommodate the realignment and rerouting of the golf course. The new layout Involves the abandonment of the par-3 11th hole, which is now replaced with a new 198 yards, par-3, 13th hole, to reflect the challenge of the existing 11th hole.
The new 11th hole is a slight left-to-right dog-leg par-4, the second shot of which is played over a new water feature to an island green. Following this is the new left-to-right dog-leg, 422 yards, par-4, 12th hole, created within the new land.
The new layout provides Handsworth Golf Club with an 18-hole golf course which is slightly longer than the original layout, but remains the same par. The design of the new holes reflects the high architectural calibre of the Harry Colt designed golf course – this was an important aspect of the design brief – to interpret the Harry Colt design of the existing holes and to create new holes that matched with the existing as closely as possible so as not to create three new holes completely out of character.
The construction work was done by John Greasley Limited, working as subcontractors to Jacksons Civil Engineering. Greasley’s were appointed in January 2018 following a competitive tender and work started on site late February of that year. Paul Woodham of STRI advised on agronomy for the project relating, in particular, to the new greens and the irrigation system was supplied and installed by Irrigation Control.
All construction work was completed by October 2018 and the new holes opened for play in August 2019 to the great delight of the membership and Environment Agency.