Swan Golf Designs has recently completed the remodelling of Blakes GC in Essex, UK, the third of four course projects for Philip Newman of UK Golf and Leisure.
The project saw Swan's original 27-hole masterplan consolidated to 18 holes, with an emphasis on environmental sensitivity and sustainability. "The creation of new aquatic and grassland habitats has been a priority together with the conservation of the hedgerows on the course and the laying out of an extensive planting programme," said Howard Swan, principal of Swan Golf Designs. "Drainage and rainfall water is collected from the course and fed through a complex pipework system to the storage ponds and reservoirs and is used for the irrigation system for the greens, tees and fairways." The owners and architect worked with Epping Forest District Council to produce a broad sweeping landscape with views towards Blake Hall to the east. Swan describes the 6,630 yard par 71 course as having "an inland links feel", with undulating fairways and subtly placed bunkering to encourage the player to strategically plan their way around the course.Water features are prevalent on the course, including the 130-yard par three 8th – a "mere flick" to an eye-catching island green, and the 18th, which has three lakes stepping progressively up the fairway towards an elevated green that nestles below the clubhouse.
Blakes GC is also home to a Scott Cranfield Golf Acadamy with a bay driving range and short game area.
This article first appeared in issue 1 of Golf Course Architecture, published in July 2005.