Evening Express

Captains’ optimism over work on MacKenzie Championship Course at Hazlehead

The work under way at Hazlehead. Picture by Heather Fowlie

The captains of Hazlehead Golf Club think players from “all over” will visit the Mackenzie Championship Course once extensive drainage works are complete.

Sport Aberdeen’s flagship golf venue closed earlier in the summer so contractors Duncan Ross Limited could make upgrades to fix longstanding issues with lying water.

A six-figure sum is being spent on the municipal par-70 parkland course, which was laid out in the 1920s by Dr Alister MacKenzie – the famed designer of Augusta National, the home of the Masters, as well as Cypress Point, and Royal Melbourne.

John Angus, gents captain at Hazlehead, thinks the work is needed and short term pain will lead to long-term gain.

He said: “It’s going to be a lot drier.

“There was always a lot of water lying about, puddles here, there and everywhere.

“The old drainage was broken, so it can only help and be better.

“We’ve still got another course to play on (Hazlehead Pines), we’re not missing out on our golf.”

Doreen Gerrie, the ladies captain at the club, said: “It’s got so much potential.

“If they get everything right people will come from all over to play Hazlehead.”

John added: “Hopefully we’ll get some new members next season or some old members back.”

It will be Spring next year by the time the MacKenzie reopens.

Specialist Duncan, whose firm is carrying out the renovations, said the drainage system at the course was “antiquated” when he arrived, allowing water to lie on the fairways instead of flowing away and leaving patches of the course perpetually sodden.

At the moment, the level of work under way is striking with Ross’ staff digging trenches half a metre deep, with pipe laid inside.

The trenches are then filled in with gravel and topped up on the surface with a mix of sand and soil which grass can grow in.

Large pieces of granite near to the surface have made the job of installing the new drainage challenging, but water should now be able to filter down into the areas where pipes have been placed and then on to ditches away from the tees, fairways and greens.

Pictured from left: Hugh Black, capital projects manager for Sport Aberdeen, John Angus, Duncan Ross, Doreen Gerrie and David Selkirk.

Ross, who has worked on golf courses all over England, and with football and rugby clubs, thinks his work will mean the MacKenzie is playable for longer each year.

He said: “The old drainage system was from when the course was built all those years ago.

“Since then, the greenkeepers and course managers have added little bits of drainage here and there.

“But there’s not been enough and enough renewals.

“The drains had gone defunct and were failing.

“I came up in the winter and looked at the areas that were really wet and I’ve drawn up a system for those areas.

“We’ve addressed the really bad areas so people can play golf into the later parts of the year.”

David Selkirk, director of community leisure operations for Sport Aberdeen, who run the public sports facilities in the city, said: “The capital works represent a significant investment by Sport Aberdeen to enhance the playability and condition of the course.

“We’re really happy with the work that’s been undertaken and worked with Hazlehead Golf Club on the improvements.”

Mr Selkirk added carrying out the work at this point in time was aimed at “maintaining the integrity of the course”.

He described the MacKenzie as “iconic” and said the works will “lift” the facility.