Bonnie Doon :: Before and After Hole #9

With stage 2 of our redesign at Bonnie Doon having just started we take a look back at the work completed in Stage 1.  Here’s how the holes looked prior to the starting, why certain things were done the way they were and how the course has evolved over the last 2 years.  Enjoy.

The old 1st hole and 4th at Bonnie Doon were pretty much carbon copies.  Both played as long par fours, over similarly undulating ground, in the same direction, and alongside each other.  As part of our overall plan for the course the 18th hole would be removed (to help improve boundary problems) which meant we needed another hole to return to the clubhouse.  With the 1st the slightly better hole of the two, reversing the 4th became the obvious solution.  Adding a few metres got the hole to a par five which was a bonus, as it gave the course a three-shotter played in the opposite direction to the other three.

A big part of this stage was capping the ‘new’ land – what would become the 14th, 15th and practice facilities.  Previously a tip, the ground needed a good metre of sand to get anywhere close to replicating the conditions of the rest of the course.  There were some benefits in taking the sand from this hole and what would become the 10th (the old 1st).  Both had steep rises through their middle, which meant that most approach shots were blind.  And in reversing the 4th the problem became amplified, with anyone not able to carry the ball 240 metres left with a second up and over a 30ft rise and many left with a blind third as well.

So the ridges were lowered a little and a hollow created to divide the new 9th and 10th holes and to return some of the dramatic movement to the area.  Originally we thought the hollow may work as short grass  – a subtle hazard for offline shots on both holes – but the more we worked the area the more it suited to being bunkers.  The hollow also crept out further into play than originally planned (on both holes), introducing a hazard to carry rather than just something to be avoided on the edge of each hole.  We seeded this area without bothering to cut in bunker shapes and then only once the grass had established, looked at roughing in some lips. Given the amount of play this area would likely receive (being on the ‘slice’ side of both holes) and our preference to keep the roughs un-cut, we created a cluster of bunkers.  With sand being more playable and accepted by golfers than long rough this seemed the safest way to treat the area.

The little bunker on the right of the tee shot was added and removed at least three times.  We felt it needed something else off the tee to negotiate but it never quite looked right during the main part of the shaping process.   In the end we just built a little rise, did some handwork and grassed it.

The green site is essentially the old 4th tee.  It’s quite small and plays hard being elevated with steep drop offs on three of its four sides, but playing as a short five the hole copes with this difficulty.  As a long four it would no doubt be seen as being too hard.  The green surface is one of our favorites. Not wildly contoured but plenty of small internal movement, rarely leaving a flat putt if more than 6 feet from the hole.  The dune behind the green is artificial – created to screen the practice nets and golfers walking to the driving range from the fairway.

:: Mike Cocking

Michael Cocking

Michael Cocking

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