Changes to the layout of the course at Bramshaw Golf Club in Hampshire, UK, are set to be introduced next month.
Located in the New Forest National Park, the course sits on a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), meaning alterations are very difficult to make from a permissions and logistics perspective.
Bramshaw Golf Club also faces some unique challenges when it comes to course maintenance. Forest laws, introduced during the time of William the Conqueror, mean that animals such as cattle, horses, pigs and others are able to wander across the course as they wish.
This and other factors were part of the internal discussions held at the club ahead of the work. Guy Hockley of Golden Age Golf Course Architects was also brought in in an advisory capacity for a time.
“We had to worked closely with many agencies and stakeholders including Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the New Forest Park Authority, together with the New Forest Verderers and Bramshaw Parish Council to get the green light for the course changes,” explained Andy Rideout, general manager at Bramshaw Golf Club. “We had gone through four or five different plans, but to cause minimal disruption to the Forest itself, we settled with the least intrusive option.”
It was eventually decided that a new par four fifteenth hole would be created, as well as the shortening of another hole from a par four to a par three.
“We discussed everything from going back to a nine-hole course, to a nine-green, 18-tee format, and even the possibility of a 12-hole course was discussed,” said Jason Buckmaster, course manager at Bramshaw GC. “The membership came back and told us they wanted the course to stay at 18 holes. So we decided on that, and the easiest option we had with the land available was to add a single hole and move the par fours which were carrying a lot of damaged areas down to par threes, which will hopefully limit the damaged areas present on the course itself. The summer months tend to be fine, but in the winter when you get 70-80 cattle on the course, it is challenging and costs too much to make it playable.”
The recent project has ultimately seen the course returned to its original 18-hole layout, as alterations were made in the 1970s.
Buckmaster told GCA that most of the work has been done in-house, and that the green on the new fifteenth hole has been built to mirror those on the rest of the course.
“All the greens are pushup,” Buckmaster said. “With the new green, we decided that rather than do anything drastic, we looked to mirror the makeup of the other 17 greens. The aim is to have it perform the same as the other greens on the course and make it easier to maintain.”
Buckmaster and the project team were only allowed a 400 square metre area for the green site, including the banking.
“The actual green surface is just over 280 square metres,” he said. “So it’s quite a small green, but we’ve looked to be a bit poetic and put some undulations in to keep things interesting.”
The wet recent weather has delayed the introduction of the new hole to the course, but it is hoped that golfers at Bramshaw will be able to enjoy the revised layout next month.
“It’s grown in well, and we’ve been allowed us to fence it,” Buckmaster added. “We’re usually only allowed to fence two greens a year but in this case we’ve been given special dispensation, which is good. It’s been a challenge but something we as a team has enjoyed.”