Horses for Courses!
From what I’ve heard there may be one or two members who are still a little unsure of the look and style of some of our new bunkers. To help understand the design principals it might help to look again at Frank Pont’s presentation which is still available for viewing on our website. The presentation is located in the member’s area, under the club documents. Click on this link to take you there.
As a Committee, and after taking professional advice as well as other course visits, we decided that having developed a Course Policy Document for the whole of the course it was important now to develop a firm plan for the bunkering on the course, which over years for one reason or another had developed several different styles. We also wished to further create and maintain the general environs of our site which has triple SSSI status to accommodate these changes.
Specifically the goal of our long term plan is:
- To restore bunkers in Colt’s style as necessary.
- To reintroduce some original Colt bunkering.
- To reinstate the strategy of some of the holes
- To increase the amount of heather around the course.
- To try to open up many of the original long views
We came to this conclusion having taken on board the history of the course and the intentions of the original designers.
- Broadstone golf course was originally designed by Tom Dunn in 1898.
- It was redesigned in 1914 by Harry Shapland Colt, one of the pre-eminent golf architects of the 20th century.
- The site initially was very open, with hardly any trees around the holes, offering many stunning views across the neighbouring lands.
- The course has many Colt attributes, with bold bunkering, great height differences and very good green complexes.
Colt’s views on natural bunker design
- “I firmly believe that the only means whereby an attractive piece of ground can be turned into a satisfying golf course is to work the natural features of the site in question”.
- “Develop them if necessary, but not too much; and if there are many nice features, leave them alone as far as possible, but utilise them to the their fullest extent, and eventually there will be a chance of obtaining a course with individual character of an impressive nature”
- “It is far easier and cheaper to cut artificial bunkers on the face of a natural slope or hill than it is to construct them on flat ground. It is easy to give to such bunkers an impressive and awe-inspiring appearance, and there is far less soil to shift.”
- “Sand-bunkers should be cut in irregular shapes, and should be placed in the face of natural hillocks if these exist in the desired positions…. bank the sand well up to the face of a bunker cut in a hillock, so that it is visible at a considerable distance.”
- “An occasional clump of rushes, bents or heather may be planted in positions along bunker edges which favour their growth”
So set against these original principals we decided to adopt a strategy that enabled us to return to larger natural looking bunkers that complimented the landscape and took cognisance of the glorious 250 acres that our course is set in.
When I worked here in 1968 -1972 as an apprentice green keeper we filled in many bunkers or reduced their size, this was purely to save money and the decision was made by amateur golfers who believed they were doing the right thing for the club! But they took no professional advice. Other reasons were that the bunkering perhaps did not suit some member’s abilities whereas a competent designer would design the course on the basis of the scratch golfer but ensure suitable landing areas should be developed so the higher handicap golfer can plot their way around the course using their shots whilst still enjoying their golf! We are also doing this to ensure all Colt’s principals are adopted.
Without taking a few of the aforementioned principals on board I have heard some members may be making comparisons with other courses that have adopted a bunkering style with a more pristine and precise finish. But what they might not have considered is the type of estate that these courses are set in which is commonly a much more compact area without the long views that we enjoy. This type of bunkering can be ‘nice’ to look at in the right setting and with the use of crisp edges and short turf is easily delivered both in terms of labour and time i.e. it’s appearance and finish is almost immediate.
On the other hand our style of bunkering is designed to sit sympathetically in 250 acres of heathland and to adopt the contours of the general terrain. It is also reliant on growth so although we have planted heather clumps and fescue grasses they are all reliant on natural growth. Long term and once established they will require much less maintenance which means we can spend more time concentrating on the playing surfaces and other presentational issues around the course
We also have to look at and consider the fauna and flora on our course and its general environs, it is abundant and quite diverse and we need to ensure that we maintain the overall landscape using the natural planting that exists around the course and site as a whole ensuring we stay true to our SSSI status.
I hope this clarifies our strategy, our evidence for adopting it and the reasons why we did not go down a route that would see a style of bunkering that would look strange in our wild and vast environment. Remember our course has always been seen as a links course bringing the principals of seaside links inland, there is no other course in our immediate area that has our land and terrain. Hence, we are considered to be the best test of golf in the area in terms of layout and hopefully we are also getting there in terms of presentation and general management.
Chris Dennis (Club Chairman)