Work has been completed on a new sixteenth hole at Woking Golf Club in Surrey, UK.
Designed by architect Tim Lobb of the Thomson Perrett & Lobb firm, the new par-three hole represents the most significant change to the course in more than half a century.
“Woking is a club that looks to evolve steadily,” said captain Simon Chantrey. “When you are over 120 years old, members tend not to like sudden major change! But our existing sixteenth hole, fine though it was, had two key problems. Firstly, the lower level of the two-tier green turned into a pudding in most winters, and despite many attempts, we were unable to fix it to our satisfaction.
“Secondly, because of the proximity of the green to the nearby Hook Heath Road, balls would sometimes fly off the golf course, across the road and into a neighbour’s garden. Given that the green itself was not wholly original – it was extended in the 1960s – we concluded we needed to change the hole.”
The recent project began in the autumn of 2012, with the completed hole playing 147 yards, some ten yards shorter than the old sixteenth.
“For golf course architects, Woking is a holy place and a key location in the history of our profession,” explained Tim Lobb. “The course is famous for its undulating greens, created over many years by club members Stuart Paton and John Low, and we knew that any new green had to have the ‘Woking spirit’ built into it.”
Photo: Kevin Murray
The tee of the sixteenth is set close to the boundary fence, meaning golfers still have to clear the pond built in the early 20th century to be a curling rink in the winter.
The new green lies 40 yards to the left of the old one and remains highly contoured, in keeping with the general feel of Woking’s putting surfaces. Three bunkers surround the putting surface, but golfers are able to run the ball onto the green if they so desire.
Lobb also worked alongside club agronomist Bruce Jamieson and head greenkeeper Jon Day to create a bespoke rootzone mix for the new green. This was designed to match as closely as possible to the soil found under the existing greens.
“It was very important to us that the new hole fitted in to the existing course, and that Jon didn’t need to use a completely different maintenance regime,” said Lobb.
The new hole is now open for play, and Simon Chantrey said: “Reaction to the new sixteenth has been extremely positive. It feels as though it could have been part of the course for many years, which is a big compliment at a club like this!”