Golf Course Architecture - Issue 76, April 2024

Steve Marnoch has overseen the completion of another phase of bunker and heather work at Matlock Golf Club in Derbyshire, England. The Scottish architect has been carrying out renovation work on 26 bunkers that were deemed “out of date” on the 1906 Tom Williamson layout. The first phase, which began in November 2022, focused on holes one to four, with the second taking place in December 2023 with four more holes worked on. “As with many older courses, Matlock’s bunkers had lost their shape, their relevance and often penalise high handicap players rather than offer a varied playing strategy to challenge all levels of golfer,” said Marnoch. The architect’s heather plan is part of an initiative to rewild the site, which also includes tree removal to open up the moorland property and enable the heather to thrive, as well as eradicating large areas of bracken. Why was a rebunkering project necessary for Matlock? In combination with the rewilding of the course, our new bunker style fits into this theme. In an open, often windy setting, shallow bunkers do not function well, and sand can be lost. Our new bunker shapes are far more random with patches of heather here and there and shaped so that the internal sanded areas ‘hunker down’ and are protected from the wind, yet not being so deep to be unfair. Patches of heather were translocated to characterise new bunker banks and other areas to influence play. Where bunkers had become redundant, opportunities arose to relandscape these as wilder heather areas with some sand scrapes and heather patches, gorse and self-seeded pines. These give a far more natural appearance and Photo: Steve Marnoch TEE BOX A fairway bunker and heather have been added on the right side of the seventh to act as a visual reference and to better protect players teeing off on the nearby fifteenth “ Heather is an asset that should be protected and developed as much as possible” Steve Marnoch talks about his Matlock project, where he has reshaped bunkers and started to reintroduce heather. Q&A with Steve Marnoch 20