Tim Lobb prepares to update Colt course at Tandridge

Tim Lobb prepares to update Colt course at Tandridge
Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey, England, has engaged golf course architect Tim Lobb of Lobb + Partners to undertake a long-term evolution programme for its Harry Colt-designed course.

Colt originally designed the course in 1924. It has views of the North Downs and the High Weald, with the front nine running along relatively gentle land and the back nine sited on more rolling and dramatic terrain.

Lobb has previously worked on Colt courses at St George’s Hill Golf Club, also in Surrey, and Blackmoor Golf Club in neighbouring Hampshire. He has been engaged by Tandridge to carry out a course-evolution programme, while retaining its natural and historic character. Lobb is currently finalising an initial appraisal of a course.

“It’s a bit of a cliché but blending the Colt philosophy with modern-day constructability is at the forefront of our mind,” said Lobb. “It’s a challenge, but we need to be sympathetic to the original Colt design while making it attractive to the demands of twenty-first-century golfers.

“We’re really interested in the wider landscape philosophy. We’ve always got involved heavily in our other projects with the landscape, particularly when we've been working with the heathlands. The landscape is key to the golf course. It’s in a beautiful location, with long views that we're hoping to enhance. It’s a spectacular course, and we’re extremely proud to be able to play a part in the future of the club.

“It’s a really long-term view we’re taking. We’re looking to take our time and get it right – it won’t be rushed. And I think the club will take that view too. It’s all being considered very carefully.”

Lobb and his colleagues have gathered extensive historical data on the course, including aerial photography – from English Heritage – from the 1940s, 60s and 90s, as the team looks to assess potential changes.

“Tandridge probably doesn’t have as much heathland as it should, but it certainly stacks up as well as any course in the top 100,” said Lobb. “It’s a very big site, with lots of contours, lots of movement – although I believe the landscape and the longer views across the countryside could be improved now, to enhance the golf further.

“It will be a phased evolution programme, probably over five to seven years during the winter periods. I want to be able to leave the course in a flexible state, a course that will be playable for all standards of golfer. I realise that’s always said, but it is such an important element in today’s market.

“I think Tandridge has the ability to do that. I think the final construction technique we’ll end up with will leave the course, particularly the bunkers, in a state that it’ll be visually still very striking and providing great strategic questions for the golfer, but it will also achieve a balance whereby the greenkeepers can maintain it with a sensible amount of staff and working hours – balancing aesthetics for the golfer and practicalities for the staff.”

Tandridge’s course director Peter Allington said: “Many improvements have been made to the course over the past 10 years, but it is imperative we continue to move the club forward in a controlled and planned manner, so we are looking to produce and implement a course evolution plan for the next 10 years and potentially beyond that.

“Tim brings a professional and creative approach to the design process, while always respecting the Colt philosophy and maintains a ‘hands-on’ presence during the construction phase.”