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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

Sports & Spaces Ltd was appointed as golf course drainage design engineer by European Golf Design (EGD) in spring 2014 for the JCB Championship Golf Course at Woodseat Hall in Uttoxeter. This ambitious 18-hole championship golf course development is situated on 250 acres of Staffordshire clay next to JCB’s world headquarters.

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).

The site’s complexities, topsoil types, location (north of Pennines) and the ubiquitous Staffordshire clay substrate (of ‘potteries’ fame) were carefully considered in our design. This included specifying particular items of plant and machinery to ensure the scheme produced the expected performance results.

We managed the specialist drainage installation subcontract works package. Our ‘best fit’ subcontractor moved more than half a million tonnes of very heavy clay soil and installed the extensive and ambitious whole-site drainage scheme under our supervision.

The construction phase and drainage installation were largely completed during 2016. This included pipe installation and early sward establishment, enabling an enhanced response time of the piped primary drainage scheme through intensive soil banding activity.

Ongoing management and maintenance includes 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.

The JCB course, one of the UK’s most ambitious golf projects, was opened in September 2018 (coinciding with JCB’s 75th company anniversary). It is now regularly ranked among the top 100 courses in the UK and is the site of professional events such as the Legends Tour.

Images courtesy of European Golf Designs (EGD)

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