Infinite Variety Golf Design has completed another phase of renovation work at Blackwell Golf Club in Worcestershire, England.
The firm, a member of the Clayton, DeVries & Pont partnership, began working with the club in 2014 and has so far restored 12 holes as part of a multi-phase renovation programme.
Blackwell’s layout was designed by Herbert Fowler and Tom Simpson in 1923 and includes what IVGD describes as “an abundance of lacy bunkers in random shapes”. They are being restored to their original design, restoring the strategic intent of those holes where it had been lost over time. The firm is also bringing back original mowing lines, creating more short grass approaches and runoffs, and restoring the original width of the fairways and playing corridors through the revised mowing lines and woodland management.
The most recent phase, completed in winter, has seen involved work on two par threes, the ninth and eleventh.
On the ninth, a bunker has been restored to the rear of the green. Old aerial and lateral images were used to confirm its position and size. It is now back in play, to catch shots that run off the back of the green.
A Simpson sketch of the eleventh provided insight into how the hole’s asymmetric bunkering was originally positioned. The project has seen the recreation of landforms that had been lost over time and were required to house some of the lost bunkers. Another key element was the rebuilding of the teeing ground, which had previously interfered with the tenth hole’s green complex.
Frank Pont, IVGD’s lead architect, said: “I am thrilled that we have been able to restore the famous eleventh hole, which is one of the most spectacularly bunkered par threes ever to be designed by Tom Simpson. I hope that, for many golfers, this hole will be one of several highlights encountered whilst traversing this beautiful and unique Fowler and Simpson gem.”
Despite the challenges of heavy rain, course manager Rhys Thomas and his team were able to complete work before the start of the golfing season.
Martin Fitzpatrick, chairman of the green committee at Blackwell, said: “Blackwell Golf Club has been working with Frank Pont at IVGD for a number of years. We are delighted with the results which have been roundly praised by members and visitors alike.
“Not only has Frank demonstrated his skills in interpreting and overseeing any remodelling, he has also been aware of, and sympathetic to, the sensitivities and timescales around alterations at a traditional club such as ours.
“Having just completed the largest single redesign at Blackwell – namely our eleventh hole – we are extremely pleased with the outcome and look forward to our relationship with Frank continuing to the next phase.”