Perhaps the most dramatic restoration of a Golden Age golf course yet attempted in the UK is currently underway at Tandridge GC in Surrey.
Tandridge, originally designed by Harry Colt, opened in 1924. The course was famous for the scale and number of its bunkers – a figure of over 300 is often quoted, although the restoration work seems to be revealing that this was an exaggeration.
Dutch architect Frank Pont of Infinite Variety Golf Design is overseeing the restoration work. Pont says he is hugely excited about the task at hand: “Restoring Tandridge is a unique experience in that it probably was Colt’s heaviest bunkered course, but also that most of the old discarded bunkers have retained their original shapes over all those years, patiently waiting to be excavated, just like treasures at an ancient archaeological site,” he told GCA.
Work so far has involved the recreation of bunkers on three holes on the course’s front side, the par four third and fifth, and the par three fourth. The old bunkers were recreated in a programme of works carried out by UK contractor John Greasley during the autumn of 2010, and have now had sand installed.
Huge in scale, the restored bunkers at the fourth hole in particular show how radical the transformation will be if the programme is followed through across the entire course. Intriguingly, the restored bunkers include several behind greens, an unusual characteristic for Colt, who rarely built hazards to the rear of his putting surfaces.
Plans have been drawn up for the restoration of the bunkers, green surrounds and tees on all 18 holes of the course,. According to course director Mark Elliott, these plans will go before a members’ meeting in March, and, assuming approval is forthcoming, the next phase of restoring the remaining six holes of the front side will be put into action later in the year. “Members have been hugely supportive and enthused by the work that Frank, John and our course manager Neil Baker have completed,” Elliott said. GCA looks forward to charting this impressive project over the next couple of years.