Golf Course Architecture - Issue 74, October 2023

67 style which are not as free draining as modern greens.” I thought the bunkers, in places, could have been a little more dramatic. The new bunkers are well placed, but perhaps a little subtle in visual terms. Obviously, there is a trade-off between visual drama and maintenance efficiency, and the architect, in consultation with his client, has to take a decision on how much drama to build in. A higher, more flashed sand face might have meant a slightly higher maintenance load, but given the nature of the place, the balance might have been tipped a little further towards the dramatic. “A lot of the bunkers were very short from the tees, and they do hold a number of events, and would like to have more. So they know they need to challenge the better players a bit more,” says Johnston. “We wanted Longcross to have more dramatic bunkering, something we will look to develop as we work through the next phases.” It was noticeable to me that the renovated holes were more open than those that have still to be worked on, and my suspicions were confirmed when, next to a path between two holes, I came across a substantial pile of tree trunks. Both courses could certainly stand some tree work: on Longcross, to address those very straight rows, and the fact they are also rather too close together. Some careful thinning would, in addition to making the course more open and improving the turf quality, allow those remaining to thrive better. On the resort’s other course, the Bernard Hunt, the tree stock is more varied, with a fair quantity of different broadleaved species to be found. In my opinion, the resort would do well to take some of these out, and focus on the pines. Foxhills isn’t really a heathland property, and it doesn’t have the sandy soil that characterises most heaths, but, with the pines and everything else, it does share a fair bit of DNA with heathland, and it could share more. Heather seed survives in the soil for many, many years, and can be encouraged to grow by removing areas of turf. Even if that doesn’t work, it is possible, as was proven across the road at Queenwood, to import heather and grow it successfully. Heather is so associated, especially in that part of the world, with quality golf. That said, the topsoil cap that was installed during the original construction is a problem, and it is hardly surprising that the club does not have any appetite for the scale of work that would be required to remove it. “The soil is too heavy to grow a good heather stand. The topsoil cap is six inches to a foot deep all over and the heather won’t grow through it,” says Johnston. Foxhills is a mixture of club and resort; it has a significant membership component in addition to its pay and play business. Judging by the amount of expensive metal in the parking lot, and hardly surprisingly given the location, those members are an affluent bunch. Its non-golfing facilities are first rate, and I am sure that the membership values those facilities just as high as it does the golf. But it is good to see a facility determined to improve what it has, and I am confident that Foxhills will continue to get better. “ We want to add a little bit of differentiation between the two courses in terms of bunker style” Photo: Foxhills