Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey has completed a renovation of the eighteenth hole of its Old course, which was designed by architect Herbert Fowler in 1903.
The spur for the work was a long-term agronomic problem on the 110-year old green. Poor drainage left the green often wet, and a lack of good soil added to the difficulties for head greenkeeper Alan Strachan and his team. Consequently, as part of a long-term programme of improvements to the course, the club, led by then greens chairman Simon Creagh Chapman, concluded that the green should be rebuilt, and asked architect Donald Steel, who has consulted at Walton for many years, to advise.
The new green has been raised by around 60cm to provide better drainage, and the flanking bunkers also reconstructed. Deep bunkers are a Walton signature characteristic, but the clay subsoil makes drainage essential; sump drains have been cut through the 7m deep clay to the underlying chalk. Steel's new green, despite being elevated, still fits nicely into the low-profile Walton landscape, and, though still extremely long, is now narrower, and pinched particularly by the left bunker, which creates a challenging back left pin location, and will make recoveries from that side especially tricky.
Strachan's crew completed all the work, along with shaper Marcus Terry. The material was also generated in-house, by collecting cores removed from greens as part of normal aeration work, and crushing them. Nine greens' worth of cores were needed to construct the new green, according to incoming greens' chairman David Renshaw.
The two left side fairway bunkers on the hole have also been rebuilt. The bank of the first bunker has been lowered, and additional heather planted on the second, to improve its visibility. No work has yet been carried out on the iconic cross-bunker thirty yards short of the green, which is one of Fowler's original hazards. Started in August, the work was completed in late September, and the club expects the new-look hole to be in play next spring.