Huddersfield Golf Club in Yorkshire, England, has come to the end of the first phase of a bunker renovation project led by architect William Swan.
Swan was hired by the club to advise on bunker maintenance issues in the summer of 2014, and initially produced an advisory report. This led to long-standing course manager Ben Turner filling in six bunkers in the winter of 2015, and to the rebuilding of two bunkers on the practice green/winter relief hole in early 2016 as a prototyping exercise.
After the success of this exercise the club decided to proceed with a larger programme of bunker reconstruction, and contractor Profusion Environmental was hired to carry out the first phase of works in the autumn of last year. Profusion holds the exclusive UK rights to install the Blinder bunker liner system developed by former Sunningdale course manager Murray Long, and, in this phase of works, built ten new-look bunkers (all with Blinder) and filled four more on the first, sixth, seventh and eighth holes. The project plan calls for another 23 bunkers to be built or renovated, and nine more to be filled in this autumn, with completion of the entire course in late 2018.
As well as this bunker work, Swan and Turner have embarked on a landscape restoration programme, removing trees and improving the quality of grassland areas at Fixby which, although in some senses a parkland course, has an essentially moorland quality to it. The club commissioned a report from STRI ecologist Bob Taylor last summer, the recommendations from which have been absorbed into the overall project.
“The course is blessed with a great architectural heritage, with significant input from some of the most revered golf course architects throughout its 125 years,” said William Swan. “While our original brief was primarily to provide practical solutions to particular maintenance difficulties that the bunkers presented, it was very quickly agreed that this was an ideal opportunity to reinstate some of the design character that had been lost over the preceding years.
“Thankfully the club has a tremendous archive which enabled us to study reviews, newspaper articles, aerial images and photographs from the early twentieth century during a lengthy research and consultation period. We were then able combine modern construction techniques with a more traditional aesthetic which will reconnect the present course at Fixby to its grand past.”