Original Architects

Added on February 29th, 2012 by
Posted in New courses reviewed

After how much change can a golf course no longer be said to have been designed by its original architect?


The most obvious topical example that raises this question is the old ‘Burma Road’, or West, course at Wentworth which continues to be lauded as a Harry Colt course by the Club’s website claiming that Erne Els’ changes have retained the course’s essential character and restored many of Colt’s original shot values. (Actually, and merely as an aside, a partner of Colt’s, John Morrison, I am told, did much of the original design work).

wentworth west golf course, els design,

The new 18th green with stream & back bunkers

There is no doubt that with the Wentworth greens reverting to meadow grass (Poa Annua) after years of over-fertilisation and of heavy watering, the greens in the Spring were not up to holding a top European pro event. Consequently, the owner, desperate to keep the BMW PGA championship, and having lost the World match play event in 2008, decided to “modernise/internationalise” the green complexes by raising them with run-offs and by the creation of penal front bunkering which forces golfers to fly the ball to the pin rather than run it in.

I suspect the http://www.phpaide.com/?langue=fr&id=11 about conservationist greenkeeping” href=”what-is-fine-golf/green-keeping/”>agronomy of the greens is much improved now they are using indigenous brown top/colonial bentgrass (Agrostis Tenuis) and if a firmness is maintained, the pros will have difficulty stopping the ball when playing out of the rough with their new club-head grooves, a result which is much to be commended. Hopefully TV commentators will not just blame it on an unfortunate ‘flyer’ !

Nevertheless, I have not come across anybody, except those with a stake in Wentworth being commercially successful, citech who would consider that this course with none of the original greens remaining, from a design perspective, can any longer be described as a Harry Colt course.

Two other courses come to mind that raise this question and they are from the part of the world where Dr Alister Mackenzie (another partner of Colt’s) started his golf architecture business in the Edwardian period, that is to say at Moortown and later at Sand Moor, both just north of Leeds.

Sand moor golf club, finest golf coursesBoth courses have at least three holes that today are completely altered from the original lay-outs because of the demands of housing encroachments but the difference to Wentworth is that both clubs here have sought to retain the Mackenzie ‘running’ style of play.

Sand Moor has four quite outstanding, classic Mackenzie ‘side-shelf’ par threes and though the course has become now tree lined,when it was originally open heathland, the agronomy applied is now one that is taking it back to fine grasses and the “running” game. CLICK HERE for FineGolf”s review of Sand Moor.

Moortown golf club, alister mackenzie, finest golf coursesMoortown an original Ryder Cup venue, is marketing its Mackenzie heritage prominently and the club’s present visionary leadership are pursuing a policy of regeneration of the heath/moorland aspect of this championship course, which famously contains one of the world’s most iconic short holes, ie ‘Gibraltar’. Following much historical archive work, 23 Mackenzie bunkers have also been re-instated.

CLICK HERE  to read FineGolf”s review of Moortown.

In short, both clubs are striving for courses that embody the Mackenzie ‘running’ style and we welcome them both as part of the FineGolf trend.


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