Golf Course Architecture - Issue 61, July 2020

49 clubhouse was flattened out to aid the war effort. The golf course also changed sometime around then, the holes in the dunes being abandoned and a very basic nine-hole course being configured over the newly simplified land. It remained this way until the club chairman at the time, Ralph Thompson, got together with links turf specialist Gordon Irvine, who after hearing about the Old Tom Morris connection and seeing the wild dunes that did not have golf, jumped excitedly all over the prospect of trying to restore the course that Old Tom might have built. They enlisted the help of Martin Ebert of golf architecture firm Mackenzie & Ebert, as well as greenkeeper Chris Haspell and GCA editor Adam Lawrence. Working together over numerous walks upon the links, they sited greens, tees and fairways in a sequential 18-hole routing. While perhaps not a true restoration (which would be total guesswork given the dearth of evidence of the original course), what was definitely true was the spirit of the methodology. They worked carefully to do things just the way that Old Tom would have and assumed the resources were just the same as his during the 1890s. This is precisely what we were here to do as well. Our first exercise of the week was to put together a routing ourselves, nine holes located over the untouched linksland just south of the current twelfth hole. This too would be led by Martin, and we had a day to come up with our best nine holes playing by the design rules of the 1890s. This meant there would be no earthmoving or shaping, even in its lightest form. There would be no major alterations to the plant life to convert the ground to golf grass. You truly had to work with what was there, siting greens that not only were interesting in look and strategy but could also easily be converted by mowing and could stay so sustainably. It was quite a learning experience to do things on this extreme a level. It is true minimalism, not the cosmetic departure from that word, where designers go to great lengths in construction to make something appear natural or minimal. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, and I have been guilty of some of it in my own shaping work. The core of true minimalism though takes a lot of restraint and discipline to execute given Photos: Toby Brearly Hochstein and the other participants on the R&A trip rebuilt a bunker using the methods of Old Tom Morris’s day (above, and left, before their work)