European Golf Design - Vision E-Magazine Issue 2 - Spring 2018 - Page 22

Mill Creek - A Different Direction

Climbing on to a low mound Ross McMurray surveys the view. “You know, if we put a tee up here then we’ve got another way to play towards the 16th green. It would make a great par 3”. Ross is standing between the 17th green and the 18th tee at Mill Creek Golf Club, and looking for different playing options has become second nature during these site visits. “There’s a long par 4 that would work from here to the 15th green as well”, he continues, “straight down the 16th fairway”. The rest of the group turn their heads to look at where he is pointing, but shaper Steve Crotty is gazing in the other direction, “How about you shoot down the 18th fairway from here and then over to 14 green?” One of the tricks the team has learned is to turn around and view golf holes in different directions to check shotlines to alternative greens and along adjacent fairways. It’s all part of what makes Mill Creek a unique golfing experience.

Mill Creek Golf Club, is our second golf course to be built in Russia. Located on the outskirts of St Petersburg, about 45 minutes to the east of the city centre, the 280 hectare site was flat, open and unremarkable. The topsoil was predominantly heavy silt and clay and there was less than a metre between ground level and the water table. A network of wide ditches crossed the landscape to ease flooding problems. But this was in 2013. Fast forward to 2018 and there is a magnificent golf course built in a links style with a vast lake system and the first phase of luxury housing already constructed.

Planning began in 2011 with an initial brief from client Sergey Borisov to develop a scheme which successfully combined championship golf course facilities, lakes for visual amenity and water based leisure facilities, luxury housing, a beach club and a commercial zone. We worked with WATG to produce an innovative master plan with golf at its core. Residential development was concentrated around the perimeter of the property to provide extensive views across the site. Three large lakes and several smaller ponds created extensive water frontage for both golf and housing and helped to further separate both land uses. The planned golf facilities included a 7,200 yard, par 72 golf course, a three hole par 3 academy course and extensive practice facilities.

View across the 4th green to the clubhouse - image courtesy of Will Righton