Chart Hills closed for a year to undergo a complete renovation. Now the Kent course, famous for its bunkers, has a new lease of life
Every fairway was stripped, every bunker renewed. Thousands of metres of irrigation piping were laid and more than 30,000 tonnes of sand shaped onto the holes.
The renovation project was massive and the aim – carpet like surfaces that are playable all year round – was ambitious.
But, following an intensive year-long redevelopment, we’ll finally see the fruits of the labours when Chart Hills officially relaunches on June 1.
The Kent course has always been renowned for being Sir Nick Faldo’s first European design and for a collection of bunkers that were infamous for their scope and ferocity.
In recent years, though, the golf course had fallen on hard times.
Ramac Holdings, who also own Prince’s, bought the property at the end of 2019 and unveiled some big transformation plans.
Led by director of golf, Anthony Tarchetti, and course manager, Neil Lowther, the work pressed on despite the coronavirus pandemic and a series of shutdowns.
Tarchetti thinks the restoration has produced a playable, yet challenging, layout that will be presented and manicured to championship standards – while making the most of some picturesque South East countryside.
“We have made enormous strides and are hugely proud of the product we will be presenting,” he said.
“While the work has been significant, we absolutely will not rest on our laurels. This is just the beginning of a road of continuous improvement at Chart Hills, with plans already in place to continue developments over the coming years.
“We are extremely excited to welcome our members and their guests back to the club in the coming months.”
It was initially thought that completely redeveloping the property would take more than two years to finish and the team hoped for a late summer opening next year.
The pandemic, and forced closures because of government restrictions, gave Tarchetti and company a chance to change tack.
They had an opportunity to dramatically accelerate the timeframe. They decided to completely close the course in July 2020 and not to reopen until all 18-holes had been renovated – something of a risk given members couldn’t play golf on site and with the sport enjoying a post-lockdown boom last summer.
The fairways were exposed to the bare soil, and the finishing team spread creeping-rye grass on each before watering and fertilising.
This carried on despite a wet, cold, and challenging winter and new touches were applied to the green complexes, as well as a complete overhaul of Chart Hills’ famous collection of more than 100 bunkers.
The course was just the start. The entire venue has been remodelled, with a completely redecorated clubhouse, a new club shop and modernised bar area, along with improved car park and signage and upgraded practice facilities that include a state-of-the-art simulator room.
While Chart Hills, like all other golf facilities, will still have to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines for the time being, the reinvigorated facility will be fully operational from the start of June.