Two year project to restore historic Leeds Castle course


Two year project to restore historic Leeds Castle course
Sean Dudley
By Adam Lawrence

Golf architect Alan Walker has embarked on a two year project to revitalise the nine hole golf course at Leeds Castle in Kent, England.

Built in the 1930 when Leeds Castle was in the hands of its last private owner, Lady Baillie, the course was originally designed by Sir Guy Campbell and his then partners, CK Hutchinson and SV Hotchkin. Neither bunkers nor flagpoles were to be visible from the castle itself. In 1935 and 1937, the American teams stayed at Leeds Castle en route to Southport and Ainsdale for the Ryder Cup matches.

Walker’s facelift – to be completed in 2016 – will see the views of the castle from the golf course restored as a result of thinning out overgrown woodlands. Campbell’s approach to designing a new course was simple and practical; make use of natural hazards but avoid trees, avoid building up teeing grounds, never build high plateau greens, use as little manures as possible and do any weeding by hand. Walker plans to reinstate a number of Campbell’s original holes.

“I’m excited to oversee the restoration of the course back to its former glory,” said Walker. “The programme is both a restoration and an agronomy project. From an architectural standpoint, there will be some changes to the individual golf holes, but the main change will come in 2016 with the re-routing of the nine hole course and restoring the classic opening hole playing around the moat with the castle in full view. It will be once again one of the most iconic opening golf holes in the world. The programme will be phased over two years with the renovation of all bunkers and teeing grounds one of the first jobs to complete. We are also reviewing the current irrigation system and updating where necessary.”