Sandwell Park Golf Club in Birmingham, England, is preparing for a fourth winter of renovation work on its Harry Colt-designed course, with the guidance of Mackenzie & Ebert.
The project began in the winter of 2020/21, overseen by course manager Craig Hartley, and has so far focused on tree management. “There was a period where little work to maintain the woodlands occurred and the tree lines encroached to the point that they severely altered the playability of holes by either blocking out sightlines or contributed to making areas of tee and greens unusable,” said greens committee member Terry Bray. “Their proximity to tees and greens was also a big issue when it comes to the management of those areas. Identifying which areas to tackle first was a challenge as the number of trees that need to be removed, or need work, will take many years.”
In winter 2022, the club decided to tackle the issue on its four par threes, with the aim of improving sightlines on those holes.
“Before the work it was difficult to find pin positions other than the centre of the green,” said Bray. “We wanted to give the golfer full sight of the green – this meant we pushed the tree lines back on both left and right of the carries, opening the view of the green back up. Trees were pushed back away from the tee areas as well, this also helped open the view as well as let light and airflow in to struggling tee areas. The trees at the rear of all four par threes had encroached a lot and the branches were extending out to the edge of the green. The removal of these trees has improved airflow and sunlight on the putting surfaces. There has been a big improvement in visuals and playability but more importantly the green surface itself.”
This winter the club is focusing on holes eight, seventeen and eighteen.
“The three tee complexes are heavily surrounded by trees,” said Bray. “They are the poorest and it’s down to the lack of sunlight. The eighth has some large mounding that is covered in gorse on the left of the fairway and the aim will be to expose this and make a feature out of this mounding. The seventeenth has a valley that runs down the left of the fairway and over the years the trees have encroached – the feature of the hole is being lost. The removal of these trees will open the view and bring the feature back into the hole.”
A new Toro irrigation system will also be installed this winter at tees, approaches and greens.