Peninsula Kingswood opens following 36-hole overhaul :: Golf Course Architecture

Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia, officially opened in late May, following the completion of a four-year renovation of its North and South courses by golf course architects Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead (OCCM).

The club was formed following the 2013 merger of the former Peninsula and Kingswood Golf Clubs, moving to the 36-hole Peninsula site in Frankston, about 35 minutes southeast of the City, where both courses would be renovated.

Click here to continue reading.

New Course: The ‘re-gen’ of Peninsula Kingswood :: Golf Australian Magazine

The biggest course redevelopment in Australian golfing history is set to propel Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club’s North and South Courses onto the world stage. Six years in the making, Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club finally got a chance to celebrate with its official opening.

“Peninsula Kingswood is a gift to the game of golf – a great test that sits comfortably alongside Melbourne’s other Sandbelt gems like Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who marked the occasion with a ceremonial drive.

Click here to continue reading.

Vic Premier: “Peninsula Kingswood is a Gift to the Game of Golf” :: Australian Golf Digest

The Melbourne Sandbelt region just got even better, according to Victorian Premier, Hon Daniel Andrews MP, who officially opened Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club this week.

Six years in the making, PK is the most significant sandbelt golf course redevelopment in Australia. The club is a result of a world-first, industry leading merger between Kingswood Golf Club and Peninsula Country Golf Club and sets a benchmark for other golf clubs.

The 144 hectare site, located in Skye Road, Frankston, comprises a new clubhouse designed by Demaine Partnership, and two 18-hole golf courses redesigned by renowed Australian golf architecture firm Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead (OCCM).

Click here to continue reading.

A First Look at Peninsula Kingswood :: Caddie Magazine

The whispers around the Melbourne golf scene of late have been all about a sleeping giant in Melbourne’s southern suburbs. Following the closure and subsequent land sale of Kingswood Golf Club, the club merged with Peninsula Country Club to form the Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club. With proceeds from the land sale of the old site to housing developers, the opportunity to create something pretty special at the Frankston site presented itself. With a significant amount of natural land movement, trademark Sandbelt soils and an underlying base of native plants that had been hidden for decades, Peninsula was ripe for rejuvenation and an expert eye to help bring it up to the level of it’s renowned Sandbelt brethren.

Click here to continue reading.

Course development completion at Bonnie Doon

The final stage of our masterplan at a Bonnie Doon Golf Club opened last week, marking the end of eight years of construction over four separate phases. The Doon holds a special place for OCCM as they were our first new client, engaged to prepare a masterplan back in 2010.

We always felt the course boasted all the key ingredients for great golf and we hope that with the conclusion of works that these have been realised. The abundance of sand, bold contours and some excellent excalmple of vegetation were in some ways reminiscent to parts of the sandbelt with which we are especially familiar.

The final stage comprises the new first, second and seventeenth holes along, with a large practice putting green and a second short game facility complimenting the area down close to the driving range. 

The first

The new long par 4 1st is played over some beautifully undulating ground to a terrific green site, just below the hill it shares with the 17th. Interestingly this was the previous 18th hole but played in reverse with the large valley now used to play over for the approach, originally a feature of the tee shot. A series of bunkers and sandy wastes dominate the left side of the hole and link the 1st to the 2nd but they shouldn’t trouble the thoughtful golfer as the large expanses of short grass to the right of the green and away from trouble will help feed a ball toward the target. The area around the clubhouse has changed significantly with a new large practice putting green and 1st tee taking up the ground just in front of the verandah….a nervous start awaits for those who don’t like a crowd!

The second

The 2nd plays as a short par 4 along the same corridor as the old 10th hole. The fairway is shaped a little like a bottle; wider closer to the tee and narrower the further down toward the green. The conservative play will be a long iron played left when the pin is right and right when the pin is left. Bunkers are scattered along both sides of the fairway so playing to the edges to gain the best angle will come with some risk.  The most aggressive play will be a driver but this must navigate perhaps the narrowest section of fairway on the property.

We’ve added the option of using a forward tee to play this as a difficult long par 3, something currently missing from a course which features a number of short 4’s and 5’s.

The seventeenth

The 17th plays across a lovely piece of ground, with a generous fairway narrowing down at driving distance between the large dune on the left and bunkers on the right. The green site sits against the same large dune on the left, and the canny golfer may choose to use this to their advantage by banking an approach shots off the slope rather than flirting with the bunker on the right.

Queensland Assistant Superintendent Recognition Award

For the last three years, OCCM Golf Design have partnered with the Golf Course Superintendent’s Association of Queensland to sponsor the Queensland Assistant Superintendent Recognition Award. Each year, the recipient of the award gets to spend two weeks with OCCM staff, onsite at a current project. This is an amazing opportunity to work alongside a variety of people from the architects to the shapers, and to learn what goes into our projects from a project manager’s perspective. The lucky recipient also gets a chance to get his or her hands dirty, helping the crew in the field.

The first winner of this great award was Stuart Campbell, from Maroochy River Golf Club. Unfortunately Stuart was unable to travel to Melbourne, however we were lucky enough to have Ash Hill from Arundel Hills travel down in his place. Ash gained some valuable experience working alongside OCCM staff at Peninsula Kingswood Country Golf Club.

Last year, Garry Kunz from Byron Bay Golf Club won the award and came down to spend time learning about our design and construction methods. He spent some time with Hayden Mead at Kingston Heath Golf Club working with the staff doing course setup and learning the art of maintaining pure Bentgrass greens.

This year, Garry McClymont from Twin Waters is the worthy recipient. He will be spending his time at our exciting new project at Lonsdale Golf Club. Garry will be involved in all aspects of the Lonsdale project from the design to construction, and growing in of both cool and warm season grasses in Melbourne.

Garry McClymont on the job at Lonsdale Golf Club

Victoria Golf Club sneak preview


Works at Victoria Golf Club are nearing completion with all holes under grow-in and fine tuning underway in readiness for member opening on February 16, 2019.  

A view looking backward down the opening hole.


For those unfamiliar with the project, the main focus has revolved around the conversion of the putting surfaces from predominantly poa annua to Pure Distinction bent-grass to help produce more consistently firm, fast putting surface; synonymous to sand belt golf.  For the most part greens have been a pure reinstatement of contours with extensive survey before and after and the use of some purpose built machinery designed to replicate contours within a few millimetres.  

The new practice putting green has been increased in size by 50%….now measuring close to 1800m2


A few greens required minor changes in order to increase the amount of pinnable area such as the steeply contoured 6th, 11th and 13th, but at each we have been able to retain the internal contours and adjust the overall tilt so to the casual observer it seems as though little change has occurred at all.  Outside of this there have been a few areas where we have been able to add a pin position as a result of extending the greens to the edge of bunkers or into areas which were previously surround.  These subtle changes have helped add to the variety and create even more interesting golf.  Of particular note will be the new back right pin on the 2nd, back left pins at the 3rd, at the front of the 7th, front of the 9th, and on the left of the 16th. 
Greens will now feature putting surface all the way to the edge of the surrounding bunkers.  This small change will obviously has an aesthetic difference but more importantly helps maximise the number of pin positions and emphasise the strategy by allowing pins to be tucked even closer to the surrounding hazards.  

A view looking back down the 17th hole (the new fairway bunkers are yet to be built in this photo).


Greens will now feature putting surface all the way to the edge of the surrounding bunkers.  This small change will obviously has an aesthetic difference but more importantly helps maximise the number of pin positions and emphasise the strategy by allowing pins to be tucked even closer to the surrounding hazards.

The 2nd green. The short right bunker is a new addition – but largely a reinstatement, with bunkers originally built here and obvious in the 1930’s oblique aerial photo.


The most significant changes come at the 5th, 12th and 17th holes which weren’t original greens and we felt could be improved.  The new 5th green has shifted slightly left and combined with some adjustments to the fairway bunkers offers a more interesting hole and importantly helps differentiate it from the 2nd and 3rd which all featured very similar tee shots.  The new green is bunkered left and right and is wide at the back and narrower at the front.  Back left pins will reward play down the right near the original fairway bunker while pins in the right half will favour tee shots over the new short left fairway bunker and near the indigenous area up the left.  A larger high tee behind the 4th green offers the alternative to play the 5th as a short par four…a pleasant alternative to the more common long par four tee.  

The 9th green…the right third of the putting surface has been added and offers some great alternative pin positions.

Looking across the new 12th


The new 12th green better matches the strategy set up on the tee, with hazards front left and back left clearly rewarding play from the inside corner of the dogleg and near the hazard.  What was previously a fairway bunker here has been converted into a shallower indigenous area which offers a better chance of recovery. 

Looking across the 15th


Finally at the 17th fairway bunkers now feature down the right of the hole which help soften the bank of the water storage but also guard the inside corner of the dogleg…a more conventional way to arrange a hole that turns.  The new green has been shifted a little forward and left, out from behind the trees, and matches with the strategy of bunkers down the right.  The new green has hazards guarding the left and back of the green while a deep hollow sits front right, similar to the fabulous hollow on the 4th hole.  
Tees have been levelled as part of the works with extra teeing options at the 5th, 7th and 17th hole – the latter providing the alternative to play the par five as a long par four occasionally or under tournament conditions.  

In addition to the earthworks, the project has also included the installation of a new irrigation system and replacement of 7 hectares of cool season grass with couch from on site and off.  

Looking backward down the new 5th.

Looking back down the 7th.  The extended front section of the green is visible here, as is the opened up area of sand and indigenous vegetation between the 6th and 7th in the left of the image. 

The 16th hole – now featuring a interesting new pin position on the left close to the bunker


Good friend Nick Wall from Airswing Media came by late last month and was kind enough to shoot some footage to help highlight the work.


Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday season and a prosperous 2019!
:: Mike Cocking

New Appointment, Rosebud Country Club, Victoria

OCCM are delighted to announce our appointment as the consultant architects at Rosebud Country Club and will soon commence a Masterplan for the site.

MASTERPLAN

We have long admired the two courses at Rosebud, in particular the original Old Course, and have often wondered about their potential. They feature some excellent ground to play golf over, with sand and undulations in abundance and whilst the quality of the holes is generally very good, they fail to attract the same attention of the better-known courses to their North. The formation of a Masterplan will help to address this, creating a long-term vision to elevate the standard of golf.

HISTORY

We have a long history of playing golf at Rosebud and also a long relationship with the Course Superintendent – Ian Todd – with whom we undertook a very similar program of course improvements at Victoria Golf Club. All too often the lines between design and maintenance become blurred so it is important the architects and course superintendent have a close working relationship.

Rosebud is been a tremendous club with a loyal membership and we have no doubt a well executed plan has the potential to see a course ranked inside the top 50 in the Country.

 



 



 



 


Bonnie Doon Golf Club Mid-construction Update Stage 4

The fourth and final stage of our redesign at Bonnie Doon GC is almost complete with grassing of greens and fairways to take place over the next month. After 8 years we’ll finally have a complete and consistent 18 hole course and we look forward to continuing to work with the club to see it realise its enormous potential.

 

A little about the holes themselves……

1st Hole

The new long par 4 1st is played over some beautifully undulating ground to a terrific green site, just below the hill it shares with the 17th. Interestingly this was the previous 18th hole but played in reverse with the large valley now used to play over for the approach, originally a feature of the tee shot. A series of bunkers and sandy wastes dominate the left side of the hole and link the 1st to the 2nd but they shouldn’t trouble the thoughtful golfer as the large expanses of short grass to the right of the green and away from trouble will help feed a ball toward the target. The area around the clubhouse has changed significantly with a new large practice putting green and 1st tee taking up the ground just in front of the verandah….a nervous start awaits for those who don’t like a crowd!

2nd Hole

The 2nd plays as a short par 4 along a similar the same corridor as the old 10th hole.

We’ve added the option of using a forward tee to play this as a difficult long par 3, something currently missing from a course which features a number of short 4’s and 5’s.

 

17th Hole

The 17th plays across a lovely piece of ground shaped a little like a bottle….wide at the start of the fairway and narrowing at driving distance with a large dune on the left and bunkers on the right. The green site sits against the same large dune on the left and the canny golfer may choose to use this to their advantage by banking an approach shots off the slope, rather than flirting with the bunker on the right.

Short Game Facility

Finally a new short game facility sits in the first half of the old 9th and offers golfers another option for practise or a brief warm up prior to their round rather than having to make the journey down to the driving range.

Bunkers 101 :: Golf Australia Magazine

Believe it or not, bunkers are not scattered across a golf course simply to make your life a misery. The great designers used them to improve the strategy of their creations, but, as Mike Clayton points out here, not all bunkering is good and often it can be misplaced to make a hole more difficult.

Click here to continue reading.

New project in China

OCCM are again travelling to China for final discussions on a major course renovation project in Beijing, which is expected to commence in 2018. This will be OCCM’s second project in China, having recently completed the renovation of the Yangtze Dunes course at Lanhai International Country Club. More details to follow, with a formal announcement expected within the next few weeks.

Chinese course reopens following renovation :: Golf Course Industry

Yangtze Dunes, the newly renovated links course at 36-hole Lanhai International Country Club, reopened to member play on June 23, following a far-reaching, 12-month renovation directed by Melbourne, Australia-based Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM).

The renovated 18 reopened as a walking-only course, a rare renovation decision (exceedingly rare in Asia) that necessitated the removal of some 8 km of concrete cart paths.

Click here to continue reading.

OCCM completes renovation of Links course at Lanhai International :: Golf Course Architecture

Australian design firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM) has completed an extensive 12-month renovation of the Links course at the 36-hole Lanhai International CC in Shanghai, China. Located on the southern shores of Chongming, an island in the Yangtze River delta, Lanhai International was purchased by Ping An Group, the huge Chinese insurance firm, in 2016.

Click here to continue reading.

June Unveiling for OCCM Reno at Lanhai :: Golf Industry Central

Thirty-six-hole Lanhai International Country Club will reopen its Links Course this June following a sweeping, 12-month renovation directed by Melbourne, Australia-based Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead (OCCM).
Founded in 2009 here on Chongming, an island in the Yangtze River delta, Lanhai International CC has quickly taken its place among the top clubs in Asia, on the strength of those 36 holes, its elegant Tuscan-style clubhouse, and a distinguished membership drawn from nearby Shanghai. The club’s profile and ambitions were raised considerably following its 2016 purchase by the Ping An Group, one of the world’s largest insurance conglomerates.

Click here to continue reading.

First Professional Event at Revamped Royal Canberra Layout

The first professional event following the redevelopment of the main 18 hole layout at Royal Canberra will take place over 54 holes from the 9th to 11th February. The ActewAGL Canberra Classic will feature a host of world class female professionals including Jiya Shin, European number one Georgia Hall, Cheyenne Woods and former world number one Laura Davies

The Royal Canberra course has recently re-entered the Golf Australia Magazine Top 100 ranking list at #20, a significant improvement from its position of #70 in the 2014 list. Judges highlighted the additional width that has been created by the redesign and the strategic interest this adds to the layout. The improved course conditioning has no doubt also contributed to the course’s improved ranking position.

:: Mike Cocking

Peninsula Kingswood North Course Holes 10-15 Open for Preview Play

Holes 10 to 15 of the North course open today for preview play as part of an interim composite course.  Featuring one of the most spectacular loops on the property, this is the first chance members will have to play the new holes which have been out of play for much of the past year.  While the holes largely remain in their previous position, changes have been made to bunkering, greens, sandy wastes and native heathland areas.  A new 10th green, built in a redan style and pushed some 40 metres further back, is a noticeable change which also creates an opportunity to play the hole as both a strong par 4 or shorter par 5.  Likewise at the par 5 15th, a new set of tees have been constructed nearer the 14th green to allow occasional play as a long 4 – particularly when the 10th is played at its full length.  Major changes will also be noticeable on the 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th greens whilst the table-top green at the 12th which extends from the unique hogback fairway has largely been retained.

The front nine construction is largely complete with holes under grow in with construction shifting to the clubhouse zone and practice facilities.  All 36 holes are expected to be complete and open for play later in the year.

The image below shows the par-3 14th hole from above. Additional images of the new holes, taken by Gary Lisbon, will be released via our social media channels in the coming weeks.

:: Mike Cocking

 

19th at Kingston Heath Now Open

We’re delighted to announce the opening of our new 19th hole at Kingston Heath.

Originally built to provide an extra hole while the club was undergoing a greens conversion from Penncross bent to A1, over time the clubs 19th also become a way of ‘resting’ a par 3 out on the course.  More recently it became part of the tournament layout, with the PGA Tour and Golf Australia having a preference for taking out the 10th and incorporating this hole as a way of improving the spectator movement around the course and to allow the 4th tee to move back onto the 10th.

Whilst the old 19th was sound, there were opportunities for improvement.

 

Agronomically the green never performed as well as the other 18 and rebuilding the hole has allowed us to ensure the putting surface has the same consistency in speed and firmness as the ‘main’ holes.

From a design point of view the new 19th has provided an opportunity to better match the Morcom and Mackenzie style of green and bunker design.  Their best bunkers are intricately shaped with capes and bays creating irregular, natural looking hazards while putting surfaces typically feature long grades and edges that rise up into the surrounding bunkers or mounds.  These slopes serve to penalize missed shots on the ‘short-side’ by shouldering the ball further away from the hole but also act as a back stop for golfers approaching from the other side of the hole.

The tee carry has also been rebuilt with many hundreds of cubic metres of native soil used to undulations, then planted with the same combination of heathland plants and grasses to mimic the similar areas at the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 15th and 18th holes.

The 19th plays between 135m (men) and 110m (women) with a longer tee also added at around 160 or 165m for tournament use and to offer some variety when the 10th and 19th holes are both in play, rather than asking for the same type of shot.

 

 

View More

 

 

 

:: Mike Cocking

Shady Oaks Little Nine

The little nine at Shady Oaks opened in July 2017 – our first project in the United States.  Made famous as the practice ground where long time member Ben Hogan sought to perfect his swing, the little nine might be the ideal model for how courses should use a spare parcel of land.  As a formal course, 9 holes can be played with a combination of par three’s and short par fours, but the real fun begins when members choose to play cross country.

 

With no formal tees golfers are encouraged to be creative.  Choose a green and a starting point…use your imagination.  We’ve come up with at least 20 different holes ranging anywhere from a  60 yard pitch to a 400 yard par 4 but doubtless there are others yet to be discovered.  The only rule is that the winner of the previous hole should choose the one to follow.

 

Holes have been designed where they can be played from practically anywhere so a number of bunkers or sections of green that don’t make sense when played as a formal course will start to when play cross county.  Beyond this the little nine becomes perhaps the ultimate practice facility – with practically every shot up to 350 yards possible.  The only problem is finding a time when its quite enough to empty your shag bag.

 

View More

New Project Announcement :: Lan Hai

We are pleased to announce our first project in China – Lan Hai International Golf Club  A 36-hole development on Chongming Island on the Yangtze River an hour from the middle of Shanghai. Built as a links course by reclaiming material from the Yangtze River the wish of the new owners is to improve the design of the championship course.  Whilst there are some routing changes our main focus is rebuilding the greens and bunkers both to improve their shaping and to accentuate their strategic interest.  Work commenced on the ‘punchbowl’ green-site at the 9th in the first week of July and will continue for the next nine to twelve months.

 

View More

Golf Architecture Magazine

The 2016 issue (#18) of Golf Architecture, an annual publication by the Society of Australian Golf Course Architects, has been made available for viewing online. The magazine features a range of articles pertaining to golf course architecture from around the world including two articles by the OCCM team – an interview with Mike Keiser Jr. by Mike Cocking, and a review of the Olympic course in Rio by Mike Clayton. The magazine can be accessed by clicking below.

New 14th Hole at Cranbourne Golf Club

The Melbourne sandbelt is full of great short holes made on unremarkable, flat land. It was the sand and the beautiful low-growing heathland plants that allowed for the construction of some of the greatest short holes in the game. The new 14th at Cranbourne provides another such example and prior to clearing the site it was difficult to gauge exactly what the land would feel like. We suspected it would be a good site for a new hole but only once the noxious weeds and debris from its days as a tip site were removed, was the potential of the new hole revealed.

Like most of the great short par threes in Melbourne including the 9th at Commonwealth, the 10th at Kingston Heath and the 13th on Royal Melbourne’s West Course, the 14th demands a quality tee shot. At only 135m metres birdies are possible and perhaps even expected on occasion by the better player, but a miss here is an ever-present danger and will almost certainly result in a bogey or worse.

The advantage of the new hole is that it perfectly links the 13th green to the 15th tee, eliminating the long walk to the current 14th tee as well as providing a hole that runs south-north, which no other par 3 on the course currently does.

The new green and bunkering is sympathetic to Sam Berrimen’s original green complexes and the indigenous heathland which was such a part of the tee carry of the old hole has been translocated here to help create a more natural setting and give the impression the hole has always existed.

:: Mike Cocking

New 19th Hole at Victoria Golf Club

This short video provides an update on the new 19th hole and practice area at Victoria Golf Club, which is now well established having been built approximately 12 months ago.
:: Mike Cocking

The Royal Treatment – Golf Australia Magazine Feature

FROM GOLFAUSTRALIA.COM.AU

Royal Canberra has undergone major changes during the past two years and the new layout has now been revealed. Mike Cocking from the design firm Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking and Mead reveals some of the key changes and why they needed to be made.

 

“Powerful forces railed against me….because….there was a golf course! And all the heads of all the departments belonged to it. And they took a fine pride in making the then Prime Minister the President of the Club! And I fought an uphill battle for a long time”.

 

So recalled the then Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies at the inauguration of Lake Burley Griffin in 1964. A long-time supporter of American architect Griffin’s vision for the centre of Canberra, he felt the city would never be complete without it. ”You can’t have a great city unless you have water in it!” he went on to say.

 

There was of course a golf course in the way – it was Royal Canberra and the original site is now somewhere under 33 million cubic metres of water. Coincidentally on the 50th anniversary of this very speech, Ogilvy Clayton Cocking and Mead (OCCM) began construction to redesign the course.

 

Royal Canberra’s new 14th hole has brought the lake well into play. PHOTO: Supplied.

With the impending flooding of the Molonglo River, the city granted the club compensation in the form of some land higher up the hill – home of the National Arboretum, where trees from around the world had been planted to assess their performance in the Canberra climate and soil.

 

 

Mike Cocking’s drawing of the new 14th hole design shows the greater width of the fairway and the playing lines from new tees.   

 

 

It would prove to be a wonderful decision and Commander John Harris was commissioned to design the layout. The undulations on the new site were excellent for golf and the trees would provide a unique backdrop, making one of the prettiest settings for a golf course in the country.

Fast-forward to 2010 and we (OCCM) were fortunate enough to be awarded the role as the club’s architects with the aim of essentially giving the course a face-lift. It was still a very pretty place to play but there were some fundamental issues that needed to be addressed. Plus, after once being ranked inside the top-10 in the country Royal Canberra had slipped to outside the top-100.

 

One of the great assets of the course – the trees – hadn’t been well managed and now encroached on every hole, drastically narrowing the fairways and affecting
turf quality.

 

It was a logical time to consider which direction the club should head in. In no way did we want to change the feel of the course – it still wanted to be a parkland, tree-lined type of layout – but we saw there was so much more potential.

 

Watching members play the course it was amazing to see just how much golf was played out of the rough. On such a big property there was very little short grass – rough surrounded every green and bunker and the fairways were only 20 to 25 metres wide.

 

There were some agronomic issues too, driving the need to reconstruct the greens and tees, many of which were still originals from the 1950’s. And the bunkers, which are notoriously difficult to build in clay – especially 50 years ago – were badly in need of attention.

 

It was a logical time to consider which direction the club should head in. In no way did we want to change the feel of the course – it still wanted to be a parkland, tree-lined type of layout – but we saw there was so much more potential.

 

Australians have often compared Royal Canberra to Augusta. It was lush, tree-lined and undulating like Augusta, and I guess felt more like an American golf course than an Australian one. But that’s where the similarities ended.

 

Royal Canberra’s new 10th hole. PHOTO: Supplied.

Augusta, by contrast, is an incredibly wide golf course – wider even than Royal Melbourne – with short grass extending from tree line to tree line and surrounding every green. Combined with width it has an amazing set of greens that demand you position your ball perfectly back in the fairway. Sometimes this will be laying up to find some level ground, other times it’s hugging one side of the fairway or the other, to improve the angle into the flag or to gain a slightly better view to the green. With width the player has the freedom to choose their own line – for good or ill.

 

By no means was this the case at Royal Canberra and whilst we weren’t trying to copy Augusta, the timeless principles of strategic design which Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie championed certainly were at the forefront of our minds.

 

Fairways were widened as much as we could – in light of the fact that much of the vegetation had to be preserved. The bunkers were all rebuilt with a bit more shape and artistic flair, and a relatively new drainage system (Kustombind) was added to help preserve their appearance no matter how much it rained.

 

In building the new greens we wanted to return the ground to its natural contours so they would fit better into the landscape. This meant removing many of the mounds and hollows that surrounded most of the green sites.

 

Putting surfaces now have predominantly long tilted surfaces, a little like the sandbelt in Melbourne, and the combination of slope and bunkers pinching into the putting surface sets up the strategy back on the tee. Sometimes you will need to hug the right side, other times the left. Rarely will the best line be from the middle of the fairway.

 

Around the green we introduced more short grass – so missed shots may funnel away from the target a lot further and increase the variety of recovery shots to be played. No longer is the only shot a lob wedge from the rough.

 

The final piece of the puzzle was re-grassing the course. A blend of grasses more akin to American golf was chosen by the club to suit the difficult Canberra climate – bentgrass on the tees, greens and fairways and rye grass in the roughs. As it turns out, the effect is a course that looks more like Augusta than ever before!

 

Of all the changes made to the course, without doubt the talking point will be the holes around the edge of the lake, in particular, the long par-4 14th – a cape style hole played across the edge of the lake.

 

The concept was inspired by Commander Harris’ original sketch of the course, which sadly never got built but you could always get a sense of its potential. Rather ironically the cause for the relocation of the course back in the 1950’s (the lake) would become one of its greatest assets, helping make the 14th one of the most dramatic and photogenic holes in the country.

 

The final walk towards the clubhouse… Royal Canberra’s par-5 18th. PHOTO: Supplied.

Looking back I wonder what the mood of the membership was back at the inauguration speech, having been forced to move from the original home?

 

Excitement? Concern? No doubt it was similar to what many of the current members felt when they first heard the course was to be renovated. I can’t speak for those members who were part of the relocation from the valley, but with this redesign now complete and feedback trickling through, some of the most satisfying compliments have been that “it still feels like Royal Canberra.”

 

Now as far as I’m aware, Sir Robert was not a golfer, but we should be thankful for his doggedness in helping realise Griffin’s centerpiece for Canberra, and for inadvertently helping to create one of the greatest inland courses in Australia.