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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.


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Course Design and Artistic Talent


I was introduced to the work of OCCM Golf on my trip this past fall to Melbourne, Australia. The Australian golf course design firm is made up of Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Clayton, Mike Cocking, and Ashley Mead, and on that trip, I was able to play Victoria Golf Club with a group of friends that included Michael Clayton. One thing led to another, and I began following Mike Cocking on social media, where I began to notice his sketches and beautiful watercolor paintings of golf courses.

I shot Mike a quick email asking if he’d be up for an interview on the site, and the resulting article has made for one of my favorites in the Golf Art Section! I love that Mike was happy to share everything from his sketches to even a few hole outlines that he marked in dirt. OCCM is already very well known in Australia, but watch for them in the US. They were recentlyfeatured in LINKS Magazine for their first US design work in Texas. Count my words, you’ll be seeing much more of OCCM, Mike, and his partners in the future. Until then, enjoy the interview!

You are first and foremost a golf course architect, but you are also a talented artist. How do those two things affect or spill into one another?

Having a good eye is an advantage when it comes to the visual side of golf course design, just as it is when doing a drawing or painting. Knowing if something looks too busy, unbalanced or out of scale can be just as useful out on site as it is at the drawing table.

When able, your firm builds the courses that you guys design. Do you view the shaping of a golf course as an artistic process?

Absolutely. When it comes to the more sculptural elements such as building bunkers, greens or even tees for that matter, it’s an artistic process that’s hard to put into a plan or explain to others. So we prefer to limit the design work to a concept rather than detailing every hump or hollow, and then spend more time in the field refining the ideas as they evolve and come out of the ground.

We approach construction this way for a few reasons. Firstly, no-one is good enough to be able to tell exactly what a highly detailed drawing will look like on the ground. You might have a rough idea but invariably it will need adjustments to make it fit the landscape and to ensure it plays and looks as you hoped it would. So in my mind it’s a waste of the clients money and time doing an excessive amount of detail if at the end of the day you are going to be there making adjustments anyway. This approach isn’t unique by any stretch but it still amazes me how many projects go the other way, where the designer makes very few visits and relies on the plans being perfect and the GPS or site foreman having the skills to interpret exactly what they were thinking when detailing the work at the computer screen or drafting table.

The design-construct process is fluid and so you need to be able to make changes and respond to them in the field. Sometimes you can sketch a concept, sure that it is the very best design for the hole you’ve ever imagined. But then you start moving dirt and, oh, that bunker looks a bit big. Maybe it should be split in two. Or maybe the green should bump left or be raised at the back a little? And then there are the practical elements to work through….access, wear, drainage and so on.

Then occasionally you might also need to call a halt to shaping because something starts to look really good that you hadn’t expected. Perhaps its not what you’d originally set out to achieve but it creates a fork in the road moment – scrap it and continue as planned or take advantage of it and go off in a slightly different direction? It can often work out better but if you’re not there it becomes an opportunity missed.

Tell us about the collaborative elements of OCCM and the joys and frustrations of working with three other architects.

I think it all comes down to personalities. If you had 4 big personalities each wanting to push their own agenda it would be a nightmare. But we know each other well, we each have some different strengths and backgrounds which I think everyone respects and we also have different roles when it comes to the design and build process so its not like we’re in each others pockets 24-7.

Typically all four of us will get involved in the early stages of planning and pitching for a new project. It’s during this phase where the process is at its most collaborative – throwing various ideas at one another and seeing what everyone else thinks.

Then as we go forward and get into more design development and construction one of us will lead the project – typically myself or Ashley. At the end of the day someone needs to make the call on the ground and its also best if the client is just hearing the one voice. It gets way too messy if the client is hearing from 4 different people.

Of course every project is different, as is the collaborative process. Sometimes the lead architect will do the bulk of the design work, other times it might be a couple of us working closely together, but we always try and visit each others projects even when not heavily involved.

In terms of frustrations? Well, occasionally you lose an argument when you really felt it was a good idea but it’s rare. A) because if you can put a strong enough case forward the others will tend to agree and B) because we all think similarly you generally know what everyone will think before putting the idea forward. Typically though our approach has more positives than negatives. Collectively we have a lot of experience with each of us having their own unique strengths so I’d like to think the collaborative approach means the chances of a ‘miss’ are reduced. Which in this business means a lot….

How often do you use your artistic skills for hole sketches, routings, or plans before the construction process begins?

It really depends on the project. As much as we’d love to have hand drawn concepts for everything we’re working on (none of us are exactly fans of CAD style plans) its not always practical and unfortunately I just don’t have the time. Also given the nature of concepts or routings changing through the design process it gets a little tricky – there’s no such things as an eraser if you’ve painted in watercolours!

If we’re pitching for a job I’ll sometimes do a drawing as it is a point of difference over our competitors and it better captures the feel of our courses than any computer plan can. Years ago when I started in design I would do a bit more drawing of concepts and so often these would form part of what we would put on display for the members to look at. These days we also do a few photo simulations for clients which are really effective… sometimes too effective as people tend to take them more literally than say a sketch which has a little more room to move.

If a concept changes drastically through construction the club will often want to update the members or committee so occasionally I’ll draw the revised hole. Its quicker and again I think we prefer the style over the clinical style that a computer tends to produce.

In terms of in the field……it just depends on the project and the hole in question.

At Healesville I went overboard. It was my first project that I was the lead designer on. I was 26 or 27 and filled a book with ideas for bunker shapes, greens designs and the like and was paranoid about trying to create as much variety as possible so I would tend to draw the ideas in the book. Also many members of the crew we used had never worked on a golf course before so I used every means possible to try and convey my ideas.

These days as we build our own work and have guys with the experience of Jason (McCarthy) the need for sketching is probably less and less. I still keep a sketch book with me, just to note down ideas, but more often than not it might be as simple as a little sketch in the dirt (e.g. 12th PK) or perhaps a little 3D sand model as we did on a few holes in Perth at Yanchep. These are perhaps the best method of all as you can draw the shape of the hole or green but then work in 3 dimensions to show contour.

Sometimes though if the ground isn’t obviously showing one thing or another and I have an idea in my head that I’m trying to explain I might do a sketch – not for the client but just for us to talk through. It doesn’t need to be a work of art – just accurate and to scale like the example taken from earlier this week at Peninsula Kingswood (16th North).

I thoroughly enjoyed gaining insight into Mike’s design process and the unique collaborative work style at OCCM Golf. Mike Cocking was extremely generous with his time compiling these images and answering all of my questions. He actually sent more of his work than I was able to put in the post! I highly suggest you look through his taste of the yardage book for Royal Queensland Golf Club and his sample of the Cape Wickham yardage book as well.

Thank you to Mike and best of luck to everyone at OCCM!

Sharpening Up


To “keep the rabbits out” has become an iconic phrase after Telstra coined the popular expression in a 2006 Bigpond television commercial. Australians instantly warmed to the hilarious faux explanation for why the Great Wall of China was constructed.

But keeping the rabbits out is among a host of changes Curlewis Golf Club has implemented since being taken over by new owners David and Lyndsay Sharp.

This classic Vern Morcom design – set in the heart of Victoria’s beautiful Bellarine Peninsula – has engaged the Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead design firm to “make the course more enjoyable; not harder or easier”.

On a layout bearing resemblance to courses on the Melbourne sandbelt, it was agreed trees at Curlewis had outgrown Morcom’s 1970 design. Four holes now feature new and/or altered trees, and plantation removal has occurred on 10 holes.

The installation of a rabbit-proof fence surrounding the course has made  improvements to the Santa Ana couch turf base easier, and irrigation updates on five holes will enhance the conditioning.

Golfers will be pleased to know the 12th fairway is now wider, and superfluous bunkers have been eliminated on two holes.

Bespoke course furniture now complements a new-look Curlewis in the form of new tee markers, seats, ball washers, bubblers, divot sand storage bins and sand bucket storages.

Away from the links, the new Spikes Bar opened in November, and lunch and snacks are available for hungry golfers seven days a week. Top Bistro dining from Thursday to Saturday nights has also been a big hit.

After your round, it’s worth trying the other passion project of  the Sharps – wine. 

An afternoon visit to either of their Jack Rabbit and Leura Park cellar doors –  both minutes from the golf club – makes for a special day on the Bellarine.


Curlewis Golf Club
1345 Portarlington Rd, Curlewis VIC 3222
Phone: (03) 5251 2534

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


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.


Update on the North Course at Peninsula Kingswood

With nearly all holes on the South course now open for member play, our work at Peninsula Kingswood has moved on to the North course. This video update features drone footage from December 2016 of the North course’s back nine, providing a glimpse of the scale of transformation that is taking place. Our work on the North course will continue throughout 2017, with all 36 holes due to be open for play during 2018.

:: Mike Cocking

New 9th Hole at Ranfurlie

This video provides an update on recent work at Ranfurlie Golf Club in Melbourne, which involved a redesign to the 9th hole. The new hole is due to open for play in April 2017.

:: Ashley

More New Holes Open at Peninsula Kingswood

Four new holes opened for play this week on the South course at Peninsula Kingswood, with the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th (temporary) being incorporated into the 18 hole composite course. Next month we expect to open the 4th, 5th and 18th holes, which will complete the opening of the South course.

Works meanwhile continue on the North course, with the revamped 36 hole course scheduled to open in full in 2018. More images from Gary Lisbon will be released in the coming months to showcase the work completed so far.

Portsea Golf Club Appointment

We’re pleased to announce that Ogilvy, Clayton, Cocking & Mead has been appointed as course architects and professional consultants to Portsea Golf Club. The Portsea course is one we are very familiar with having been involved with the redesign of the course during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, a period over which it rose from outside the top 50 and into the top 25 courses in the country. The course has immense potential, and we look forward to working closely with the club over the coming years to further enhance its quality.

:: Mike Cocking

Cranbourne GC :: 14th Hole

Our new 14th hole at Cranbourne Golf Club is progressing well after finishing construction and grassing in spring. The below drone video provides a unique perspective of the new hole and helps explain a little about where the hole sits and how it plays. We expect play will commence in late summer ready for the club championships.


:: Mike Cocking

Royal Canberra Course Redesign

2016 saw the completion of our redesign of the original 18 holes at Royal Canberra Golf Club, which culminated in the recent re-opening of the course. The two year project included the reconstruction of all tees, greens and bunkers, the installation of many kilometres of new drainage, and the widening & re-grassing of almost 20 hectares of fairway.

We look forward to 2018 when Australia’s top 100 courses are again rated by the leading two golf magazines in the country, and we hope Royal Canberra is returned to its rightful position amongst the country’s best courses.

The video below shows a time lapse of the course redesign, and demonstrates the extent of the course’s transformation from above.

:: Mike Cocking

OCCM completes work on back nine holes at Royal Canberra GC

By Sean Dudley

The back nine holes at the Royal Canberra Golf Club have reopened for play following a renovation project led by Ogilvy Clayton Cocking Mead (OCCM) golf course architects.


Royal Canberra Golf Club is more than a century old and moved to its current site in the 1920s. The course was designed by John Harris, and has since been worked on by a number of architects, including Peter Thomson and Michael Wolveridge in the 1980s, who added an additional nine holes.


The firm has worked with the club in Canberra, Australia, since 2010, with the recent work focusing on holes 10-18. Royal Canberra is home to 27 holes of golf, and OCCM will be shifting its focus on the final nine holes in the near future.


OCCM architect Mike Cocking has been pleased with the work thus far as he and his team look to bring one of Australia’s most reputable courses back up to scratch.


“Growing up it always had the reputation of being a very good course,” said Cocking. “In the 1980s it was ranked in the top ten in the country and during my playing days the ACT Amateur was a big event and so it received a fair bit of attention from that too. For a country where most of our best courses are within a few kilometres of the ocean, it became known as one of our better inland courses.”


When OCCM was first brought in to work on the course, Cocking explained that the course had become very narrow, with trees encroaching on play and having an effect on the turf quality.


“One of the things we noticed watching the golfers play the course was how many shots were played from the rough,” he said. “On such a big property, there was very little fairway length grass – essentially none around the greens and the fairways were perhaps only 20 or 25 metres wide. The bunkers were badly in need of attention and there were some agronomic issues which drove the need to reconstruct the greens and tees. So 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 it could be significantly better.”


With regards to the back nine, Cocking described these holes as lying on some of the best land on the property. The project team has removed vegetation in selected areas and opened up large expanses of grass to link certain tees and greens.


“The undulations are more dramatic, with many holes playing across long valleys from tee to green, but for me the most exciting part was the ground around the lake,” he said. “I also really like how the creek has turned out on the 15th. The valley which ran across the 14th, 15th and 16th holes typically got wet in winter and rather than fighting the contours, it seemed more appropriate to work with the heavy ground, so we converted this valley into a creek. It looks great but more importantly it adds a lot of interest to the second shot on what is a very reachable par five.”


Cocking says that some club members were apprehensive at first about any tree removal, but reported that these areas have been among their favourite changes.


The fairways were widened as far as possible by Cocking and his team, in light of the fact a lot of the vegetation had to be preserved. The bunkers were all rebuilt in an artistic style, replacing the simple shapes with sands similar to those used at Augusta.


“When building the new greens, we tried to return the ground to its natural contours so they would fit into the landscape a little better,” said Cocking. “This meant removing many of the mounds and hollows that surrounded most of the green sites. Putting surfaces now have predominantly long tilted surfaces, as opposed to tiers. 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 there is also a lot of short grass – so missed shots may funnel away from the target a little further and the variety of recovery shots has been increased. No longer is the only shot a lob wedge from rough.”


OCCM has been tasked with creating three ‘fairly indistinguishable nines’ at Royal Canberra, and Cocking is hopeful that work on the final nine holes will commence within the next two years.


“Hopefully the rankings will reflect the comments by the members and some of the early reviews,” said Cocking. “We’d love to see the course return to the top 20 and legitimately be viewed as one of the best inland course in the country once again.”

Stage One of the Little Nine Opens at Shady Oaks

The first stage of our little nine project at Shady Oaks in Fort Worth, Texas has opened for play, consisting of greens 2, 3 and 7 and around a dozen bunkers that were constructed in June and July this year.

Our concept for the Little Nine is two fold. On one hand it offers members with a break from the big course – somewhere to play a quick nine if time is pressing or for those learning the game or who find the big course too long or difficult.

But the best and most exciting feature of the Little Nine is the ability to play cross country golf. This concept allows golfers the opportunity to essentially decide for themselves where to play to rather than be confined to the tradition route of 1 through 9. Rather than a formal set of teeing boxes, broad expanses of short grass allow golfers to choose where to play from – just find a level area and let your imagination take over. Bunkers have been spread across the landscape and whilst some may seem out of play when the formal nine is played, the reasons for their positioning will become apparent when the cross country holes are played.

Outside of playing holes during quite times it also provides perhaps the best place on the property to practice. Nowhere else can someone seek out the same lies and shots they would find on the course, or stand in the one position and play to 4 or 5 different greens.

We’re excited to be completing the works this January (2017) on the remaining 6 greens and bunkers.

:: Mike Cocking

New Nine at Royal Canberra Opens for Play

We’re please to announce that the new back nine on Royal Canberra’s original 18-hole course has opened for play this week to great acclaim from members, guests and the media. Celebrations for the opening included a ribbon cutting by the Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove and a demonstration match featuring Geoff Ogilvy. This milestone marks the completion of the original 18-hole course, with the front nine completed 12-months ago. The future redesign of holes 19-27 will then complete the project, and further contribute to Royal Canberra’s elevation back into the top echelon of clubs in the country.

The back nine takes in some of the best land on the property, with the stretch of holes from 13 through 17 being the most dramatic. This stretch includes the long par-4 14th hole (see below) that plays over the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, the design of which was loosely based on Commander Harris’ original design. Tree removal down the right of the old hole helped create a wide corridor – so wide that we felt it could handle a central bunker to help set up some of the strategy of the hole from the tee. The green features wings that serve to emphasise this strategy, with a left pin rewarding an approach from the right of the fairway close to the lake, while for a right pin the strategy flips, favouring an approach from the left.

Over the coming weeks we will post some hole-by-hole images and commentary, including before and after pictures in order to help explain how the holes have changed and the reasons for the changes.

:: Mike Cocking

Royal Canberra’s 14th Hole

The 14th at Royal Canberra has been transformed by using the true width of the piece of land it occupies, and the principles of the original concept design of Commander John Harris. Harris had drawn the hole from what is now the 13th tee and he envisaged a dramatic tee shot across the lake on the right. For whatever reason the hole was never built and whilst the 13th made a beautiful downhill par three, the 14th always failed to make any strategic use of the lake. This failure was a disappointment given that it was the primary natural feature of the land.

The new hole captures the essence of Harris’ original concept. Tees were added to the right, trees removed and the fairway widened out to the water on the right and consequently, many more options of line have been made available from the tee. The most desirable line will depend on which of the three tees is being used but most importantly, players now have a choice whereas previously all they were asked to do was to hit straight between the bunkers on the left and the trees on the right.

The Little Nine at Shady Oaks

We’re delighted to announce that work begins on the ‘little nine’ at Shady Oaks CC in Texas early next month.

Routed on just over 5 hectares, the little nine represents an important part of the game beyond just its historical significance of the place where Mr Hogan honed his craft (the famed Oak under which he hit thousands of golf balls still stands in the north-east corner). The little nine represents perhaps the ultimate practice facility and short course – could there be a better use of a small space such as this?

With 9 formal greens and bunkers, it offers a somewhere to have a quick nine, a ‘break’ from the big course or somewhere for beginners to learn the game. Rather than a formal set of teeing boxes, the little nine will feature broad expanses of short grass to allow the ability to move tee markers around considerably. The limitation coming only with its popularity – the fewer people on the little nine, the more interesting the holes can be.

As a practice facility golfers, can seek out the same lies and shots they would find on the course, or stand in the one position and play to 4 or 5 different greens. Essentially, the little nine allows players to practice every conceivable shot up to 300 yards.

In our mind, the best and most exciting feature of the little nine is the ability to play cross-country golf. This concept allows the golfers to essentially decide for themselves where to play to rather than be confined to the tradition route of 1 through 9. Similar areas have been built including the H-O-R-S-E course at the Prairie Club as well as our own 4-hole loop at RACV Healesville and we hope to see many more in the years to come.

:: Mike

Bonnie Doon’s Redevelopment

In this episode of The Week in Golf, Course Superintendent Justin Bradbury and I speak about our early progress at Bonnie Doon on stage three of the course redevelopment.


Spring Valley

For many years we have consulted to Vern Marcom’s wonderful but too often under-rated sand belt gem – Spring Valley, which was recently reviewed in Golf Australia Magazine. Some alterations have been quite extensive but more often than not the work has involved repositioning a tee or perhaps subtly reworking a bunker or tee carry.

As with all our construction on the sand-belt we try hard to give the impression the new work have been there for a long time. Changes at the 5th were completed 12 months ago and show how even a small change such as widening a tee and making some changes to the carry can make a significant difference from the tee.

:: Mike Cocking



The Practice Facility

THEY say practise makes perfect but in golf, much of that depends on the quality of the facility you have to practise at. In this article I explore some of the game’s great practice facilities and hopefully help inspire golfers and clubs alike to take practising the game more seriously.

Before and After

Before and After


Before and After

Before and After

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:: Mike

The practice facility at Victoria GC: with improvements to turf, drainage and a scattering of bunkers, the practice facility now resembles a golf hole and provides a much more stimulating place to practise.

Royal Queensland GC – Eastern Land

In 2007 we completed a major redesign at Royal Queensland due to the duplication of the Gateway Bridge. Since then we have been working on a number of various concepts for the 30 hectares of land that now remains vacant on the Eastern side of the bridge.

Some of the options that we considered were:

  • A traditional stand-alone nine hole course
  • Construction of nine new holes and a reconfiguration of the current layout to produce a 27 hole course with returning nines
  • A practice range and associated facilities
  • A reversible course.

The routing concept of the course has been settled so that the Club may commence long lead-in items such as a new water storage dam and access road. The Club is very excited by the concept of the reversible course and its details will be worked through by the Club and OCCM in the near future. After five years in design, we are hoping to get started soon.

The concept of a reversible course originated at St Andrews in Scotland. The opening hole in the reverse course plays from the 1st tee to the Road Hole green at the 17th hole; the 2nd hole from the 18th tee to the 16th green, and the course continues all the way (anti-clockwise) to the finish, where golfers play from the 2nd tee to the 18th green. Those who have played the course confirm that it includes some remarkable holes.

Tom Simpson, the British architect who built some of the very best golf courses on the European continent, drew his concept of a small reversible course in his book The Architectural Side of Golf. Simpson summarized the advantages of a reversible course as:

  • Reducing the impact of divots or pitch marks, and allowing greens keepers to rest areas
  • Spreading traffic wear and compaction
  • Increasing pleasure and variety
  • Allowing the effect of wind on play to differ
  • Favouring a ‘strategic’ type of design, as little (if any) additional bunkering on a strategic course is needed for reverse play

George Thomas, the American Architect (Riviera Country Club in LA), also developed the concept of a ‘course within a course’ where holes could be played, for example, as either long par threes or short par fours. The Women’s 17th hole at Royal Queensland is an example of Thomas’ concept. It would be possible to include parts of this concept into the reversible course to create even greater variety. The land of the old 14th hole could, for example, be used to make a short par four as well as a recreation of the old par three hole.

There is enough land to build a reversible course with no formalised tees that would create something unique, varied and fun to play as well as offering eighteen quite different holes.

:: Ashley Mead

RQ_Reversible Course Masterplan
RQ_Clockwise Loop
RQ_Anti-Clockwise Loop
RQ Supporting Images Blog Post

Stage 3 at Bonnie Doon Commencing in April

We’re excited to announce that Stage 3 of our Masterplan at Bonnie Doon is to commence on April 26. Expected to take roughly 5 months, the works will include reshaping the five holes in the Southern Paddock which, in the new configuration of holes, constitute the 3rd through 7th.

Major changes include removal of the current spare hole (previously the downhill par 3 16th) and converting the current 3rd (old 11th) from a par five to a par four while stretching the current 5th (old 13th) from a par four to a par five. The latter hole should be one of the more spectacular on the property with the tee reverting back towards its original position (prior to 1993) closer to the Southern boundary and the green pushing back onto the current spare hole (old 16th) green.

Below are two images from a recent site visit with the club’s board and management team, plus the plans for the five Southern Paddock holes.

:: Mike Cocking

OCCM Courses in the Top 100

The two main biennial course ranking lists in Australia have now been released for 2016, with courses that OCCM has provided architectural services to featuring prominently. In the Golf Australia Magazine list, eight courses redesigned by members of the OCCM team feature within the top 50 including Lake Karrinyup #14 (#15 in Golf Digest), The Lakes #15 (#16 in Golf Digest), Peninsula Kingswood North #20 (#40 in Golf Digest), Royal Queensland #25 (#24 in Golf Digest), The Grange – West #28 (#44 in Golf Digest), Bonnie Doon #38 (#55 in Golf Digest), Spring Valley #43 (#53 in Golf Digest) and Healesville #50 (#82 in Golf Digest). Peninsula Kingswood South and Royal Canberra are currently under construction and were therefore not considered. It will be interesting to see how far these two courses can climb in the 2018 rankings.


An honorable mention goes to Sun City Country Club in Perth, which has entered Golf Australia Magazine’s top 100 list for the first time at #84 following the redesign of nine holes. With more work to come over the coming years, we look forward to Sun City moving further up the rankings in future editions.


OCCM also provide ongoing consultative and restorative work at a number of Sandbelt clubs to help maintain the strategic intent of the original architects while making enhancements where necessary. Given the number of new courses that have entered the top 20 in recent years, the work done at these clubs has been vital to their continued recognition among the top echelon of courses in the country. Of these clubs, Kingston Heath came in at #3 (#2 in Golf Digest), Victoria #11 (#8 in Golf Digest) and Commonwealth #19 (#22 in Golf Digest).


Meanwhile Barnbougle Dunes and St Andrew’s Beach, both collaborations between Michael Clayton and Tom Doak, finished at #2 (#5 in Golf Digest) and #13 (#20 in Golf Digest) respectively.