Golf course architects from around the world visited southeast England to attend the European Institute of Golf Course Architects’ (EIGCA) study tour event.
Supported by the Toro company, the five-day study tour allowed members of the EIGCA, American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) and the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects (SAGCA) to play and learn more about four of England’s classic courses.
Entitled ‘To Heath & Links’, the study tour began on 13 September at Sunningdale Golf Club with a presentation and tour of Harry Colt’s lost holes. Attendees were accompanied by the current course manager and by the club historian while walking the course, and learning about its history and how courses such as Sunningdale are helping to retain and safeguard the region’s lowland heathland, which is diminishing across southern England.
Attendees were given the opportunity to play the Sunningdale course the following day and experience first hand the design work of Harry Colt. Many holes at Sunningdale are considered to be substantially as Harry Colt originally created them.
The tour then moved to The Berkshire Golf Club and its Herbert Fowler-designed Red Course. Attendees played the course before enjoying a presentation on Fowler’s work and career.
Having experienced two heathland courses, the tour’s final two days took in two links courses – Royal St George’s and Royal Cinque Ports.
The architects played the William Laidlaw Purves-designed Royal St George’s course on 16 September. This was followed by a dinner at the clubhouse, after which a presentation was given on the preservation of duneland habitats on the coastline of Kent.
The study tour’s final day saw the architects play the course at Royal Cinque Ports, with attendees hotly discussing which of the two visited links courses was their preference.
The tour was rounded off by a banquet dinner at Leeds Castle, during which the venue for the next study tour was revealed. Entitled ‘The Four Reds’, the tour will visit Adelaide, Australia and its surrounding sand belt golf courses in 2018.
Speaking at the conclusion of the tour, EIGCA President Tom Mackenzie said: “It has been a great honour to welcome so many of the world’s top designers to England for the third golf course architects study tour. Bringing together the members of the SAGCA, ASGCA and EIGCA to study and play these wonderful golf courses and, perhaps most importantly, to share our knowledge, has been a wonderful experience and one which I’m sure we have all appreciated. I would like to thank Sunningdale, The Berkshire, Royal St George’s and Royal Cinque Ports for their fantastic welcome and hospitality.”
“For me, the educational value of this trip has been enormous and I’m sure it has been the same for all the architects who attended,” MacKenzie added. “I hope that they have all enjoyed the ‘To Heath & Links’ 2015 Study Tour and we look forward to us all meeting up again in Australia for ‘The Four Reds Tour’ in 2018.”