Prince’s Golf Club in Sandwich, England, which hosted the Open championship in 1932 and remains a regular venue of significant amateur events, has opened its new-look Himalayas nine, which has been renovated, or ‘reimagined’, as the club’s publicity says, by architect Martin Ebert.
Prince’s was first opened in 1906, designed by owner Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley and founding secretary Percy Lucas, and, after being largely destroyed during World War Two, was recreated in the early 1950s by John Morrison and Sir Guy Campbell (the club’s small but excellent museum includes Morrison’s original notes on the design in pencil, a priceless artefact).
The work, though largely in the existing hole corridors, has included the creation of two all-new holes, the short par three fifth at ‘Bloody Point’, the northern end of the property, which plays directly east towards the English Channel (the only hole that plays in this direction; the others are basically north-south), and includes a terrific contoured green, of which Ebert says he is very proud, and the very long par five second, which is essentially the result of combining the previous second and third holes.
Ebert and his team – headed by 1st Golf Construction shaper Marcus Terry, who has worked with the architect on many previous occasions – have continued a number of themes from previous projects at Prince’s. Included in these are the bunkers, which combine two basic styles, natural and ragged edge when placed on the edge of fairways, and revetted pots when surrounded by tightly mowed grass and near greens, and the use of exposed sand areas and extensive wetlands, both of which provide significant habitat for wildlife – indeed, Prince’s staff already report sightings of bird species previously unknown to the site.
The day before GCA’s visit to Prince’s the heavens had opened to the tune of 43mm of rain, which, when combined with the already high water table meant that the wetlands were all full of water, and indeed there was considerable standing water in lower areas of the fairways. That said, those areas that had drained away were perfectly dry and firm, a testament to the quality of the links terrain, and to the hard work of course manager Sean McLean, who had been out all night pumping away water! At the moment, the newly created wetlands obviously are bare and unvegetated, creating the look of most unlinkslike formal water hazards, but architect Ebert told GCA he was confident that, as the water table lowered, and vegetation grew in those areas they would naturalise and look the part.