New academy will be first on the agenda

THE academy and driving range will be the first aspect of the massive multimillion-pound development at La Grande Mare complex to be completed.

Billionaire businessman Stephen Lansdown is targeting a 2022 opening for the PGA Academy with a 290-yard-long driving range and the latest technology at the heart of the area to be redeveloped on the western edge of the woodland course.

Lansdown hopes work on that initial phase of the multi-phase project will start in mid-summer.

The customary site notices are due to be up in the coming days and beyond that 21-day period, planners will consider any outside views before the expected green light is given.

Lansdown is confident of an imminent go-ahead.

‘We are close now. You will start to see things start to happen from April onwards.

‘The one thing I can say is that everybody has worked well towards it. Covid has caused issues, but there are no complaints with regard to the planners or the States in any shape or form with regard to keeping it on track and keeping it going forward.’

The full planning application includes four or five separate projects, said the owner. ‘There is the academy and the driving range in the Rue du Gele area, the staff accommodation, the clubhouse, which is the main build and which includes the restaurants, changing rooms and events area. The health club and the golf course.

‘We are doing four or five planning applications in one, so it is a major project bringing in all those designs and costings together. But fair play to everybody, they have worked really hard.

‘We should be in a good position by April to know we have got Planning [on board] and then get on with the work.

‘In the meantime, we are working in parallel with that, getting together the development team and all the consultants in place, working towards the first project, which will be the academy.’

This element will include work on the new holes three and four and then the rebuild of holes which are currently three, four, five and six which will become five, six, seven and eight.

If all goes well, this exciting new feature will come on stream in 2022.

‘We want that done as soon as possible because it will then give us the opportunity to base some of our operations over there while we are doing the work in the other areas,’ added Lansdown, himself a keen golfer.

‘I am confident there should not be any reason to delay it beyond the normal planning permission.

‘We would like to think we have covered most angles and there has been full consultation.

‘We have adapted a policy of working with all the parties concerned.’

Once permissions are given it will be over to Ravenscroft Project Management Limited with Alex Knowelden leading and supported by Nick Ravenscroft.

‘It is a strong local team that will be at the forefront of everything.’

The golf design has been in the hands of European Golf Design and the owner has his own exciting vision of what the completed layout will offer its members and overseas visitors.

At the heart of the plans is the upgraded minimum par 68, lengthened circa 5,000-yard long course with a significant reduction in the par threes that have dominated the original layout.

Lansdown is excited at its potential.

‘It will be a course that will be worthy of the Ladies’ Tour, some high-quality competitions as well as a great course for the members.

‘We want it to make it attractive to golfers on a global basis with great accreditation in golfing circles. We want people to come to La Grande Mare and the island for golfing holidays and would love to feel we can have professional competition on it.

‘I know we have the Ravenscroft Matchplay but stepping that up a bit to say a qualifying event on the Ladies’ Tour, maybe something equivalent to the Legends [seniors tour] in Jersey.’

‘But I also want it to raise the profile of golf and encourage more youngsters and people to play golf on the island.

‘I would say it, of course, but I think it is going to be a fantastic course and a credit to the island. That is the main thing and we will be promoting it on the global stage.’

When complete the course will feature two particularly testing par fives – the 552-yard long 13th and 503-yard 17th – and the par three count reduced from nine at present, to six.

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