Golf Course Architecture - Issue 74, October 2023

17 TEE BOX Three from Three Mike Cocking picks out some of his highlights of the redesign Hole 6: One of the more controversial changes has been the incorporation of a split rail fence along the fifth, sixth and seventh. The boundary used to play a more integral role in the design, but urban growth converted the dirt road and farmland into housing and a three-lane motorway. We were keen on bringing that concept back into play while providing much needed separation from the original boundary fence and busy road. The club were lucky to have a lot of room to the right of each of these holes… so much so we were able to shift the line of play by 30 or 40 yards. There is now a huge reward for playing close to the fence. However, we’ve also given a lot of space to play away on each fairway but obviously the approach becomes a lot harder. Hole 8: The eighth (the old eleventh) had a dogleg with tall trees on the inside corner – making the hole difficult for the average golfer, but long hitters like Rory McIlroy could launch drives over the trees and have a lob wedge to the green. We have removed 15 to 20 trees on the corner and replaced them with a string of bunkers and fescue rough to create a diagonal line of hazards. There’s a small, narrow green with a right-to-left tilt and more bunkers guarding the right and rear, so there is a huge advantage in keeping close to the bunkers on the corner. There is lots of space to the right but for every yard to the right, the pitch into the green becomes more difficult. Hole 16 (pictured): When we looked across the lake at the old seventeenth our eyes would turn to what appeared like a wonderful short par four near the then fourteenth tee. It looked like a great Cape hole, but we weren’t sure it could ever be played. But with our rerouting, we have managed it! Multiple tees help to vary the line and length of the carry, and the views from the elevated back tee will be dramatic. However, arguably the more interesting shot is from the forward sets of tees where golfers may be tempted to go for the green. Photo: Mike Cocking Water, which previously wasn’t much of a threat for better players, is now more in play. And at holes five, six and seven, OCM has reintroduced a boundary fence, making out of bounds a strategic hazard. At holes six, seven and eight (the original sixth, tenth and eleventh), OCM has returned the character of the land. “There are still some bunkers, but this part of the course was originally an oak savannah and so we’ve established some broad sections of fescue rough to reintroduce that feel,” said Cocking. “We hope these changes make for a much more natural looking course with a scale that’s more in keeping with the broad and expansive nature of the site.” OCM has also emphasised angles and contour. “Every hole is wider,” said Cocking. “If fairways are 25 yards wide the game just descends into a test of execution. But when the fairways are 40, 50 or even 60 yards wide, and you have a green where one side is heavily defended, you can create angles to both reward and penalise depending on which side of the fairway you play to. We like to place a hazard somewhere near the ideal position to play into the green to help create some thoughtprovoking decisions back on the tee. “There are some holes where contour short of the green, or a putting surface that tilts away from the fairway, really encourages golfers to use the contour to feed the ball towards the pin. So there has been a lot of work in the approaches to try and make sure they play firm for most of the year.” Course Three will host the Presidents Cup in 2026.