WHAT THE PAPERS SAY 

 

Water, Water everywhere - and quite a lot to drink
GCM Summer 2003
By PHILLIP HALL

DUBLIN, Ireland - Contour Golf Ltd battled the notorious Irish weather with great success here at Christy O'Connor Jnr's latest offering in the shape of Palmerstown Golf Club. "To be honest," said Contour's Phil Reeve, "We took this job on once the sub-surface shaping had been completed and what was here at that point was pretty impressive already. Since then though we have put the 'top-hat' on it in great style - this is going to be a fantastic golf course, really something else. It's as good as anything I've ever seen, anywhere in the world."
Given what has been created, this should not surprise anyone: immediately noticeable at Palmerstown are the lakes, there are acres and acres of them across the entire site running to a total of about 15 hectares with an average depth of 4.5 metres. To put this into context: the amount of water required to fill these lakes is 675,000 cubic metres. Read that again, it is hardly credible. A big lake on a golf complex would take about 25,000 cubic metres of water as Contour's Mike Cox explained, "We did a large irrigation lake at a golf complex of 36 holes; that was about the size of a football pitch and averaged seven metres deep - that equates to 35,000 cubes of water and is more than adequate to irrigate a full 36 holes of golf."
Make no mistake this is a big project and there is not a single project in Europe with a greater volume of water within the site; while some 'American style' designers and builders might move more earth than this on a golf course, bear in mind that this movement is purely for the water features. Certainly there is a current move towards "less is more" in terms of earth movement, but when a site requires a lot of earth movement to create what the customer desires, necessity does become 'the mother of invention'.
So what has Contour had to contend with since they took over? "The hardest thing for us in this entire project was the rain." Explained Contour's managing director, Ingrid Eichler who continued, "I guess it was the same everywhere in 2002 but it seemed to be even harder than usual in Ireland. I would say that the only break we got during the entire process was the six weeks at the end of the season in August/September - we just about managed to get it seeded in time, it was a huge effort." Water all around, including in the sky above...
The developer of Palmerstown is Jim Mansfield who is well versed in both industrial and leisure/housing developments - Palmerstown being a new housing and leisure complex that runs parallel to Mansfield's City West Complex in Dublin - and it looks set to be very dramatic indeed as Eichler was keen to emphasise; "We took the project on once the shaping of the sub-surface had been completed. Russell Curtis - a shaper from Jack Nicklaus - had taken it that far then we were called in to finish it off." This work included shaping and finishing of all tees and greens, seeding of the same along with the fairways and the installation of a full drainage and irrigation system.
As far as the play goes the lakes form an essential part of the strategy and aesthetics with 13 of the 18 holes featuring lakes in one form or another.
The site for Palmerstown is formed by an old stud farm and country estate, a fact that is evident in the rolling terrain and what Eichler describes as "sensible elevation."
The quality of the course is high as one would expect from a team that has O'Connor, Mansfield and Contour involved: the greens have been seeded with 100% bentgrass of the latest cultivar, the tees with dwarf ryegrass/bent and fescue mix with the roughs also being a mix of dwarf rye for durability and chewings fescue for aesthetics and 'motion'. Contour got on site in Dublin in July 2001 and the course is slated for opening 2004. If you are lucky enough to get a look at it - remember the amount of water that the lakes contain - more than enough to supply a substantial town for a month or two...