Yorkshire-born architect Jonathan Gaunt is advising Ilkley Golf Club, one of the county’s best known courses, on long term improvements.
Founded in 1890, Ilkley is Yorkshire’s third oldest club. The course was originally located high on Rombalds Moor, above the town, but later moved to its current site, alongside the River Wharfe. The river acts as a hazard on several holes, including the par three third, which is entirely located on an island in the Wharfe.
Alister MacKenzie is credited with the majority of Ilkley’s design. MacKenzie advised on changes to the second and third greens in particular, making their surrounds more natural to the eye. Some of his other ideas, though, were never implemented.
Gaunt – who took his first golf lessons at Ilkley – undertook a course audit in Summer 2010 and then prepared a comprehensive masterplan advising on improvements to tees, bunkers, greens, landing areas and woodland management. The architect focused his attention on the fifteenth, using historic photos taken back in the 1950s to create an impression of what the remodeled greenside bunkers could look like.
Phase 1 of the redevelopment has now started, comprising the remodelling of bunkers on the fifteenth, with the aim of restoring some of MacKenzie’s features. Shaper Michael Green, who has worked with Gaunt since 1987, is carrying out the work, using a small excavator with tilt-rotator bucket to ensure the correct edges, contours and shapes are created.
Further ongoing work includes a new back-tee and re-alignment of the eighteenth hole, a par four of 432 yards. bringing back into play fairway bunkers that had become less of a challenge in recent years.