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Extensive changes at Longniddry

Longniddry's fourth hole with the new bunkers

The Longniddry club in East Lothian, Scotland, has appointed Scottish design firm Kimber Golf to lead an ongoing programme of course improvements and restoration.

Longniddry’s decision to hire the firm – headed by former DMK lead designer Paul Kimber – came in the wake of some bunker work to the par threes on the links course, designed originally by Harry Colt. Kimber designer Niall Glen, a member of the club, was asked to advise.

Early work on the par three fourth was well received, and though the next stage, the sixth hole, was delayed by the freezing winter of 2010/11, the club’s directors decided a more structured approach, including a long term plan for the course, was needed.

Kimber’s report tracked the evolution of the design since Colt’s original layout in 1921 and proposed ways in which characteristic Colt design features could be restored, notably by reintroducing doglegs to holes which had become straighter. The report also looked at how the course could be made more challenging for low handicap players without becoming too punitive for higher handicappers: by repositioning bunkers, cutting back areas of rough, establishing new mowing lines and removing sea buckthorn bushes.

Glen said: “One of the most challenging things when working with clubs that have a deep history and ties to a recognised architect is resistance to change owing to the perception that alterations will dilute the value of the original course layout. We see it as part of our role to educate committees and members that the passing of time, the odd alteration here and there and dramatic improvements to golf technology have caused the dilution of original layouts.  

Since November 2011, all the heavy rough has been cut and baled as part of an annual programme proposed by Richard Windows of STRI, large areas of buckthorn removed and the bunkers at the sixth hole completely remodelled. With the buckthorn at the tenth removed, it has been possible to alter the driving line and make the hole a slight dogleg as Colt designed it. To tighten up the drive for better golfers, an original bunker at 200 yards from the tee has been removed and new fairway bunkers at 265 and 275 yards e created. Similar changes are planned for the fifteenth where a large area of buckthorn to the left of the green has been cleared."

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