Forse Design renovation creates greater ‘joy’ at Beacon Hill

  • Beacon Hill
    Beacon Hill CC

    Forse Design is nearing completion of a three-year project at Beacon Hill CC in New Jersey

  • Beacon Hill CC
    Beacon Hill CC

    The project has included the rebuilding of bunkers

  • Beacon Hill CC
    Beacon Hill CC

    A number of greens have been completely rebuilt

  • Beacon Hill CC
    Beacon Hill CC

    The fourth and second greens are now framed by sand and fescue

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Forse Design is nearing completion of a phased renovation project at Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey.

With the intention of improving bunker construction and conditioning, updating features, and with a desire to appeal to modern players, the club contracted Forse Design to develop a master plan for renovations to be completed over three years, which was approved in summer 2018.

Contractor Mottin Golf Course Renovations conducted work in off-peak playing months initially covering autumn/winter 2018 and autumn 2019.

The first phase focused on five holes and included rebuilding bunkers, completely rebuilding the ninth and fifteenth greens, recontouring fairways and rebuilding some tees.

Another seven holes were addressed in phase two, including the complete rebuild of the eighth green, a new tenth green located further forward and to the right of the original, more bunker work, including the replacement of low-lying bunkers on the thirteenth with a burn, and improving drainage.

“We added fairway run-ups to our par three greens to improve playability,” said Chad Buchanan, club historian at Beacon Hill. “We also relocated and rebuilt the approach on the tenth, which has become one of our most strategic holes on the golf course.”

The last phase of work is expected to be completed later this month. “The third phase focused on the opening six holes, with the complete rebuilding of the sixth green and a new third green constructed beyond the original and closer to an adjacent pond,” said Jim Nagle of Forse Design. “The sixth hole was a mid-length par three with very flat ground between the tees and green and had no fairway – it was a very boring looking hole. The renovation added two mounds crossing the hole at the beginning of a newly installed fairway. These mounds provide a much-needed visual break and are also in play for shorter hitters. The green was expanded to create more pin locations as well as to provide greater interest and challenge.”

Buchanan said: “I’m excited for our members to be able to play the completely renovated course. Specifically, from the last phase, I’m looking forward to our members playing a completely new sixth hole, and a more strategic, yet more playable third hole. I’m also excited for our new approaches into the fourth and second greens, framed by sand and fescue, with our hilltop clubhouse above.

“Our project team somehow found a way to preserve the course’s great history, highlight some fun quirks, add strategic elements, improve playability for our family-oriented membership, and maximise the course’s potential.”

Forse Design has also worked with course superintendent Tim Meyer on a tree management programme, which has seen problem trees removed and some new specimens planted. Tree removal has opened some vistas on the golf course that have not been seen for decades as well as views of the Manhattan skyline.

“Through all the changes, the members at Beacon Hill are still going to recognise their beloved course,” said Nagle. “The changes have not been to completely redesign the place but rather to create greater interest, challenge, improved aesthetics and joy in their course.”