Members of Chilliwack Golf Club have approved a plan proposed by UK-based LOBB + PARTNERS, who established a British Columbia office in 2018.
The focus of the re-design is to improve playability to a wide array of golfers, and increase operation efficiencies through an updated irrigation system. The proposed sustainable irrigation system will allow the club to reduce maintained golf areas by 30%, from 37.5 hectares to a submitted 25.5 hectares. Natural grasses that require less maintenance will make up the leftover space, allowing texture and colour to pop in the historically dry Fraser Valley, about 90 kilometers east of Vancouver, BC. Also included in the plan are forward tees that aim to introduce new golfers to the game while minimizing the forced carries over naturalized areas from the new tees.
General Manager Bryan Ewart says their club recognized the need to think ahead, resulting in the hiring of the firm: “As a club, we recognize the need to be proactive in our approach to long term planning to ensure sustainable business and golf operations. The work from LOBB + PARTNERS is a really important part of this process.” An increase in short grass areas will improve playability and provide a first-class golf experience for years to come, says design associate Oliver Tubb:
At the forefront of this plan is a desire to present accessible and appealing golf for as many golfers and potential golfers as possible. We aim to do this through expanded short grass areas, with increased widths, and by ensuring the golfers experience more naturalized areas as they move around the course. Collectively, we are really excited for where this project is headed.
The plan also includes a reduction of bunkers, from 57 to 46. Bunkers will become more relevant through new locations, shapes, and a new style to aesthetically update the golf course. In total, five new greens are proposed, with others receiving minor upgrades. The routing stays the same.
Of particular interest, the 4th has an “Eden” orientation to it, while converting the chipping green into a dual-purpose 19th hole will allow the club to keep as many holes open as possible through construction.
“Our club has some important projects and decisions ahead of us” said superintendent Kaleb Fisher. “We recognize the value of working with experts to help us navigate this process. From the start, our relationship with LOBB + PARTNERS has been collaborative, insightful, and rewarding.”
Discussions are still under way on a specific timeline for the renovation, but the plan is to start sometime in 2023.
Designed by British Columbia legend Ernest Brown, Chilliwack Golf Club opened in 1958. Since then, the club has established itself as not only the go-to choice for golfers in the Fraser Valley, but a supporter of junior, amateur, and pro golf alike, regularly hosting events for Golf British Columbia, Golf Canada, College/University events, and more. Local PGA TOUR player Nick Taylor is occasionally seen at Chilliwack Golf Club, as well as University of the Fraser Valley’s golf program, consistently among the premiere Canadian university men’s & women’s teams.
Established in 2016, LOBB + PARTNERS is the vision of Tim Lobb, who founded the company following the dissolved Thompson, Perrett & Lobb. In 2018, Alex Hay established the BC office alongside Oliver Tubb. Notably, the firm’s portfolio includes places like Willie Park Jr.’s Huntercombe, The Berkshire, Woking GC—the birthplace of strategic golf—and St. George’s Hill, a Harry Colt design in the UK consistently rated in the World Top 100. On this side of the Atlantic, LOBB + PARTNERS have contributed to Pender Harbour (BC), also an Ernest Brown design, and Waterton Lakes, No. 80 on Beyond The Contour’s Top 100 (2022/2023). Additionally, the firm is the consulting architects for the GolfBC Portfolio, which includes Gallagher’s Canyon, Nicklaus North, Olympic View, and Okanagan Golf Club, where the team updated the 18th hole at the Quail course in 2022.