The Alister MacKenzie-designed Sand Moor club in Leeds, England, has embarked on the second phase of a multi-year renovation project led by British architect Andy Watson.
Watson oversaw alterations to the short par five first hole last winter, and, with the changes having been well received by the club, now plans to work on four more holes this year. Contractor C&C Landscapes is handling the construction.
MacKenzie’s par three seventeenth hole – originally the fifteenth – is among those being changed this winter. “We aim to revitalise the bunker shapes, and in a nod to Dr MacKenzie, bring back the shape of one of the more interesting original features,” Watson said.
When MacKenzie built the course, the tee was located in a spot that is now filled with trees. Old photography reveals a rear bunker, and the current front bunker is absent. “The hole’s bunkers now have very swollen lips cut into their mounds to the point where the lip is becoming detached from the bunker sand,” said Watson. “Throughout the course, where bunkers remain in situ, they will be reconstructed to reduce the swelling on the mounds and create better balanced playing areas.”
The alterations will see the two flanking features reduced in size and shape to tie into surrounding mounds. The front bunker will remain, but with a less pronounced lip. The rear feature will not be reintroduced, but a run off at the rear, where the bunker used to be, will be expanded, softened and cut as fringe to add an interesting short game challenge.
Other changes will be made at the twelfth, thirteenth and sixteenth holes. The thirteenth, not an original MacKenzie hole, is being dramatically altered by way of tree removal to make it a drivable par four for longer hitters. A wider fairway will allow the hole to be played from a variety of positions depending upon the position of the pin. “Though the hole was not designed by MacKenzie will use some key traits of his design style, tying it back in with the rest of the course,” said Watson. “Like many of MacKenzie’s holes, it will have multiple playing options from the tee, and will be playable by golfers of all skill levels. The greenside bunkers will provide a strategic challenge, testing the golfer on the tee to find the right portion of the landing zone in order to have a clearer approach shot into the green.”