The new 9 hole course extension at Caddington GC, within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is now open for play. This has incorporated the re-routing of the existing 18-hole course to create a new 27-hole golf course layout, designed by Gaunt Golf Design. It has been built by McGee Construction Group, based in North London, also the owners of the facility.
The original 9 hole course, which was formerly known as the Griffin Golf Club, and owned by Vauxhall Motors, served employees of the nearby Luton car plant. This was extended to 18 holes in the early 1990s and was bought by McGee Construction Group in 2008. Gaunt Golf Design was hired shortly afterwards to extend the course to 27 holes.
Around 700,000 cu m of inert landfill has been imported to the Caddington site to create the new layout (and necessary funding) to upgrade the open-access facilities to be one of the best in Bedfordshire. Jonathan, who has been involved in numerous landfill-based golf projects before, considers the model to be a good one.
“Landfill is underrated as a means of building golf courses,” he explained. “There have been a number of pretty ordinary golf courses built using landfill, but recently we’ve seen some more ambitious projects emerge. When the golf architect is involved from the start of the project – rather than bringing him in once all the landfill has been placed – the results can be really impressive. This project has been design-led, rather than landfill-led, hence the design has been the focus of the scheme”.
“We generate a great deal of inert fill material from our core activities,” explained group director of McGee’s, John McGee. “We have been involved in a couple of golf projects before as a provider of landfill material, but this is the first one that we have done ourselves. It fits in very nicely with our company philosophy, which is focused on recycling; we’d rather use material to create something new and valuable than just sticking it in a hole in the ground.”
“Around two thirds of the golf course is now new, while the remaining third has been tweaked and refined,” said McGee. The result is a full-size 18 hole course, plus a 9 hole academy loop comprised of one par four and eight par threes. “Eight holes on the main course are entirely new, while three more have been substantially altered,” said Jonathan. “On the academy course, six holes are new, while three have been rebuilt.”
The course was built by McGee’s own personnel, along with specialist shaper, Ian Futcher, and overseen by Jonathan, throughout. The Toro irrigation system was designed by Roger Davey of Irritech, and agronomist Bruce Jamieson advised on the project. “The build has been done to a very high standard – the McGee people are extremely good at what they do,” said Jonathan. The greenkeeping team, led originally by Dale Housden and now by Adam Henderson, is extremely pleased with the finished result. They have been involved in the project throughout the entire construction process, so they have been able to fine-tune the surfaces to an excellent condition for the opening of the course for play.
Jonathan said, “I am very confident about Caddington’s prospects – the golf course itself is very strong, in a good location and a new village has been developed right next door on the former Vauxhall storage yard – the largest (ex) car park in Europe. Caddington has been a terrific project for us to be involved with, and McGee’s a great client. With landfill opportunities all over the UK – whereas, in the past most sites were in the south of England – there are opportunities for similar developments elsewhere.”