Foxhills in Surrey, England, has opened a new short game area called the ‘Practice Den’, designed by James Edwards of Edwards Design International and built by contractor MJ Abbott.
The 3,500 square metre area includes a large green, two practice bunkers and synthetic hitting areas. Low-level lighting of the chipping area means the facility will remain available for use beyond daylight hours.
“What is particularly gratifying for me is how we have engineered an outstanding practice solution into a space that might otherwise have been overlooked,” said Edwards.
“Many of the club’s members have told me they can’t believe how we have transformed the space. It was about creating a vision, and strong teamwork with MJ Abbott and a forward-thinking club.”
“Work included a substantial cut and fill of the site to create a large green into a severely sloping piece of land,” said Steve Briggs of MJ Abbott. “An existing path was diverted through trees using a specialist root protection system to prevent damage to tree roots.”
The green was built to USGA guidelines and comprehensive drainage and irrigation has been installed to the green and surrounds. Work began in August 2018 and all seeding and turfing was completed by September.
Chris Fitt, director of golf and leisure at Foxhills, said: “As we stand right now, I think our practice facilities are now the best in the region.”
“Since we have made this investment, a number of other clubs have either begun projects or are thinking about starting projects. That’s inevitable I suppose, but I’m glad we were leading the charge.
“I’m really pleased with the end result. The green needs a little more time to bed in and the wildflower beds, plants, hedging and trees will become more established as time goes on, so it will get even better. But we’ve got exactly what we wanted. Golfers at Foxhills no longer have any excuses to ignore their short game practice!
“It basically completes our offering. We have the nine-hole par-three Manor course, nice driving range, two putting greens and now a bespoke chipping, pitching and bunker facility. There’s not much more a golfer of any ability could want or need.”
Recently-retired European Tour professional Anthony Wall attended the opening of the Practice Den to test out the facilities.
“It is designed to be able to practice all types of shots but, for me, one of the best things about the Practice Den is its position,” said Wall. “Members or guests have to walk past it on the way to the range, so hopefully that will convince them to practice their short game a bit more. The short game too often gets ignored by amateurs, but it is, without doubt, the best way of improving handicaps quickly.
“There are always different methods and the great thing about the Practice Den is the ability to work out what works for you. One of my best tips was from the great Seve: Play with soft hands and move some more weight onto your left side at address. I took that with me throughout my career, but these are skills you need to work on, and this is the ideal place to do it.”