Macpherson returns to Close House


Macpherson returns to Close House
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Architect Scott Macpherson has embarked on a renovation of the Filly course at Close House, outside Newcastle in the north-east of England.

Macpherson completed the hotel's Colt course three years ago, and the Scottish-based Kiwi designer has been tapped by owner Graham Wylie – the founder of the Sage accounting software firm – to upgrade the hotel's first course.

The Filly was originally built as a nine hole course in the 1960s by Newcastle University for the use of its staff and students. Extended to eighteen holes in the 1980s, it currently plays at around 5,900 yards, and is located on the valley floor below the hotel, in contrast to the hilly Colt, which occupies the southern side of the Tyne valley.

“The existing holes are remaining, but we're going to renumber the golf course, so it will play as two loops of nine,” Macpherson told GCA. “There will be two or three entirely new greens, around twenty new bunkers and about a dozen new tees. The land the course sits on is quite flat, so we aim to create some more interesting contouring. The bunkers will look very similar to those on the Colt – we want to create a unified look on the two courses. And the completed course will play around 6,050 yards.”

At the same time, Macpherson is also reworking the Colt course's finishing hole. The existing water course flowing down the right side of the hole has been dammed, and the hotel's old, overgrown Ice Lake, which is located to the right of the green, has been cleared out. “This was part of the original scheme for the course,” Macpherson said. “We identified a long time ago that this was a natural water course that flowed down the hill and into the old Ice Lake, but we backed off the work at first because of the difficulty it would introduce. Now, in discussions with Graham Wylie and the Close House team, we've decided to return to our original plan. The water will flow over an old wall that has just been renovated and sealed, and into a lower pond beside the green. The drop is less than a metre, but enough to make a little noise. The wall remains more of a challenge to golf than the water. It will make for a spectacular finishing hole.”

Contractor MJ Abbott, which built the Colt course, is handling construction on both projects, which are valued at around £500,000. Work started on the Filly renovation in mid-March, and the build is expected to take around twelve weeks, with the course reopening in July.