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JCB Championship Golf Course, Woodseat Hall, Uttoxeter

‘The heavy clay at JCB was far more suited to making pottery or bricks than it was to sustaining a high quality sports turf, but thanks to the skillful design and methodology of Rob Donald, we were able to install a high performance network of field drains that has removed excess soil moisture and enables the greens staff to prepare a premium turf sward to a standard far beyond what would have otherwise been possible.

Robin Hiseman, Golf Course Architect

In spring 2014, Sports and Spaces Ltd were appointed by European Golf Design (EGD) as their golf course drainage design engineer for the ambitious 18-hole championship golf course development situated on 250 acres of Staffordshire clay beside the JCB world headquarters, Staffordshire. This appointment required consideration for the site complexities, topsoil types, location (North of Pennines) and the ubiquitous Staffordshire clay substrate, of ‘potteries’ fame.

Our appointment included planning consultation, soils analysis, detailed drainage design, water harvesting enhancement opportunities, and drainage materials specification, including sands for soil enhancement and modification.

We presided over the specialist drainage installation subcontract works package, securing a ‘best fit’ subcontractor to deliver the extensive and ambitious whole-site drainage scheme installation. The appointment also required specifying particular items of plant and machinery required to deliver the expected results and performance from the scheme designed. The construction phase and drainage installation were largely completed during 2016 and the course was finally opened (for limited play) in September 2018. Which coincided with the JCB company 75th anniversary.

Having endured extreme weather events in the Staffordshire ‘potteries’ on very heavy clay soils, the design protocol delivered by Sports & Spaces has been very well received and signed off as successfully fulfilled. Thereby resulting in the establishment of the most ambitious golf project in the UK for many years. The golf course managers have enjoyed the enhanced response time of the piped primary drainage scheme through the intensive sand banding activity that followed the pipe installation and early sward establishment. Ongoing management and maintenance include frequent heavy sand top dressing applications, an extensive soils aeration programme and frequent monitoring of outfall and open ditch arrangements that are components of the permanent drainage infrastructure system.

This award-winning and highly acclaimed golf course development is undoubtedly the most ambitious golf course construction project undertaken in the UK for many years.

Images courtesy of European Golf Designs (EGD)

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