New relief holes at Walton Heath


New relief holes at Walton Heath
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Ian McMillan, head greenkeeper at the Herbert Fowler-designed Walton Heath Golf Club in England is completing grow-in on two new holes, designed to relieve pressure on the rest of the club’s Old and New courses during maintenance work.

Routed with the assistance of architect Donald Steel and constructed by McMillan and his crew for the tiny sum of £10,000, the two new holes could also come into use as part of the course used for major events held at the club. Traffic growth over the years has meant the Old’s first hole, which originally played across Deans Lane, has had to be shortened to a par three, while the club’s other 35 holes are located a perilous crossing over the fast-flowing Dorking road.

The new holes have been fitted into a previously unused area of land between the twelfth and thirteenth on the Old and the eighth and ninth on the New. The first of the two, which would be played from the existing Old twelfth tees, is a monster par four, around 480 yards, with a newly-planted band of heather crossing the fairway around 300 yards from the back tee. McMillan and his team have built a new green for this hole; in keeping with the rest of Walton Heath’s greens, it is enormous, around 40 yards long. It needs to be, though, as it slopes severely away from the line of play.

The second new hole is a very different kind of challenge. A short, drive and pitch par four, a new bunker challenges the drive at around 230 yards. The hole plays to the existing twelfth green on the Old course, but at a very different angle, making the green, rather than long and narrow, shallow and wide. In the very centre of the player’s view sits an intimidating revetted bunker, offering a tough Sunday pin tucked behind it. Although not long, the hole will provide plenty of challenge both from the tee and on the approach: the nature of the green will make golfers want to hit the drive as far up the fairway as possible, to simplify the second shot.

The club hopes to bring the new holes into play, as a trial, later this year.