Golf course architect Ken Moodie is returning to West Surrey Golf Club, located south of Guildford, England, this autumn, for the penultimate phase of a five-year bunker renovation project.
“The initial brief was to update the bunkering of the course to suit today’s golfer but in keeping with its heritage as a Herbert Fowler design,” said Moodie. “We used old aerials to map the bunkers present on the golf course in the 1940s to develop our proposals.
“We completed a course review with detailed proposals focused on three holes, which were the ones the club intended to work on first. The project has mainly focused on bunker repositioning and remodelling but we have also incorporated some areas of new mounding, hollows and swales to add a more interesting variety of hazards and playing strategy. We also extended the par-three twelfth green, to increase the original very small target and offer a better range of pin positions.”
The project is entering its fourth phase this autumn, with the last phase expected to be completed next year with the final bunkers in play by spring 2021.
“I am most pleased with the work we did on the twelfth hole which, at relatively modest cost, has transformed it into a much fairer and more attractive mid-length par three,” said Moodie. “The original green was very small and surrounded by sand so that the weaker golfer struggled to reach it. We have provided a way for shorter hitters to find the putting surface, if they play an accurate shot, by extending the green to the front-left and creating a gap which the golfer can feed a ball through.
“The approach has been shaped to kick a ball to the right if placed correctly. A new bunker has been installed in the face of a bank, further left, to catch a shot which bails out on this side, so a precise shot is required to gain this advantage.
“The thirteenth, had been designed by Herbert Fowler — the original architect — as a split fairway mid-length par four in the style of the fourth hole at Woking which his business partner, Tom Simpson, much admired,” continues Moodie. “The two centrally placed drive bunkers, which split the fairway, were too close to the tee to test today’s better golfers so we relocated them further back and set them on a slight diagonal to offer more options than the original configuration. The shorter hitter has more space to lay up short of the bunkers, but the better player can choose to either play into a narrowing neck of fairway, to the left, or carry the diagonal hazard on the right with a similar length of drive.
“There is also the chance to play through the narrow gap to the right of the first bunker to find a better angle of attack into a back-left pin position. The best option will depend on where the flag is located on a particular day.”
Construction was initially completed by Speedcut Contractors, and has then been taken on by MJ Abbott, with greenkeepers helping with some of the turfing. Barry Pace has been the project manager — he joined MJ Abbott in 2017. Course manager Alec McIndoe has coordinated the work on behalf of the club.