Golf Course Architecture - Issue 64, April 2021

61 Dundas’s appreciation of Augusta is apparent in the new bunkering scheme too. Thirty bunkers were removed from the original layout, leaving just 40, each of which has been strategically positioned so that the player has options to consider for each shot. With fewer bunkers, the design team also felt comfortable increasing their severity, largely in the form of depth. “There are only four greenside bunkers from which you can actually see the putting surface,” says Dundas. The bunkers have been lined with the Better Billy Bunker system, which has already been put to the test. A storm hit the course shortly after completion of the bunkers and not one required any work. Dundas estimates that it previously required 150 hours of labour to get bunkers back in play after a storm. And with a typical year having six or seven such storms, that’s over 1,000 hours of labour that can now be invested elsewhere on the course. Dundas says the project team has succeeded in delivering a course that will require far less resource while delivering a much more enjoyable playing experience – surely the golden formula for any club embarking on work? The emphasis on enjoyment and conditioning aligns with Dundas’s broader new ethos for the club, which is to provide a relaxed environment with exceptional quality and service. And his goal is for that to be affordable quality. Many of San Roque’s peers undoubtedly offer an exceptional experience for visiting golfers, but at a cost that means for most it will be a one-off. Dundas is setting a price point that will allow people to return again and again. By reducing the resource requirement of the course, more can be invested in the provision of outstanding service. “In terms of the gate-to-gate experience, we are going to be the best in the area,” he says. Every detail has been considered – such as the switching of nines to improve the f low of guests from clubhouse area to course and back again. The former tenth hole is now the first, with the tees in full view of the clubhouse area, giving more of a “sense of occasion” to the opening shot. And the round now closes on the adjacent green right in front of the clubhouse, as opposed to the former eighteenth – now the ninth – which is 50 metres away. Even during construction, as the new vision for the club began to emerge, membership numbers were increased by a third. By the official opening this summer Dundas will be even closer to his goal of around 600 members. Everything the new ownership group promised its members, existing and new, was delivered. “Eighty-two golfers played the Old course on 5 December,” says Dundas. “A full renovation had been completed in 11 months during a global pandemic – it’s a massive achievement for our partners and their businesses.” The end result is a course that is “hard, dry, fun and fair,” says Dundas. “As a member you could play every day of your life and not tire of it.” GCA The former opening hole on the Old course is now the tenth Photos: The San Roque Club