Former Ryder Cup captain Brian Huggett and golf course architect Tim Lobb of Lobb + Partners are overseeing a major programme of improvements at The Springs course in Wallingford, UK.
The course was acquired in July 2017 by holiday firm Darwin Escapes, which has self-catering accommodation at 20 sites across the UK. It now owns two golf courses, having acquired Kilnwick Percy Resort in East Yorkshire shortly before purchasing The Springs.
After acquiring the course, Darwin made contact with original designer Huggett, who suggested involving Lobb. “I have known Tim for a long time and I recognise him as one of this country’s best golf architects,” said Huggett. “Fundamentally, the routing of the course is very sound, but as with many courses of that vintage, the bunkering is now in many cases out of play. The new owners want to lift the overall standard of the course and the golf offering – they are investing heavily in the clubhouse as well as the course. We are going to bring the course right up to date, using Blinder bunker liner and other modern construction techniques, along with contractor Profusion Environmental.”
Lobb said: “The Springs is right next to the Thames and is a beautiful layout by Brian. With a little bit of careful work to bring the course up to the level of its surroundings, it will be a very successful golf resort. In addition to bunker work, we are adding a number of ladies’ tees, and doing improvements to the lakes to reinstate some of the walling. For example, on the seventeenth hole, a short par four, we plan to build a retaining wall in the lake and bring the water a little closer to the green. Essentially, we are pushing the lake away from the centre line and attempting to make the hole more enticing.”
Lindsey Esse, managing director of Darwin Escapes, said: “We look to buy sites in stunning locations, where there are opportunities to improve and enhance the existing offering, and The Springs fits this criteria perfectly. We recognised the considerable potential of The Springs, and with significant investment in the facilities, we aim to create the best golf club in Oxfordshire.”
Ashley Pheasant, head of golf at Darwin Escapes, said: “We are excited about the plans proposed by Brian and Tim, and with the changes that are already being made to the Clubhouse, the overall experience at The Springs will significantly improve for our members and visitors thanks to the investment being made by Darwin.”