Significant changes are being made to the layout of the course at Whickham Golf Club near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
Andrew Mair’s Golf Design firm is leading the project, and GCA spoke to Ken Greatbatch, marketing director at Whickham Golf Club, to find out more.
“The development is the result of an area of our course becoming unmaintainable due to an inability to drain, particularly following the climatic changes that have drenched our land since 2011,” Greatbatch explained. “We discovered that water was not reaching our drains and remaining close to the surface, causing us to abandon play during winter and all but very dry periods in summer.”
Greatbatch explained that two holes were particularly effected, and that members voted in favour of closing the affected area and creating a development plan to develop two new holes for the course.
These holes are now being created on land adjacent to the course’s existing fourth and fifth holes, which had previously been used as a practice area.
Mair’s firm have designed the two new holes and remodeled the existing sixteenth hole, converting it from a par four to a par five.
“Although relatively short for a par five, the reworked sixteenth will be tightened up with the fairway being narrowed strategically,” Greatbatch explained. “Two traps at 240 yards left and 260 yards right of the fairway from the tee have increased the degree of difficulty. Three more traps approaching the green to the right side provide significant protection for the approach with all but accuracy being rewarded. The sixteenth is now a testing risk or reward hole for the closing stretch. This hole came into play on 1 April 2015 and has contributed to adding a stroke to make the course a par 69.”
What will become the new fourth hole is a testing 340-yard par four with a dogleg to the right. The new fifth hole will measure 205 yards and will be a par three. Work will also be carried out to blend the existing third and fourth holes and create a 540-yard par five hole.
Work is now underway on the two new holes, but will pause for the 2015 playing season. This part of the project is set to be completed in late 2015, with a view to opening for play in April 2016. The club will also be rebranding and changing its name to Hollinside Park in a bid to attract more visitors.
“We want to present members with a course that will be both testing and enjoyable,” Greatbatch added. “The legacy we hope to present is of a course that can be enjoyed by golfers of all levels. This is our main product and as such should be as good as we can make it for future generations. We gratefully played previous course layouts set down by our founders over 100 years ago. Golf has developed in that time and our aim is to leave a course to be enjoyed beyond the next century.”