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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.

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.

Bonnie Doon Stage 2 is Open!

Saturday April 26th Bonnie Doon Golf Club in Sydney, Australia opened the Stage 2 holes from our Master Plan to their membership for play.   Here is an overview of the 8th and 16th holes.  We will feature the 11th and Spare hole later this week.

 

8th hole
The uphill 8th hole has largely retained the tee and green positions of the old hole, but the ground in between has altered significantly. Two rows of vegetation have been removed from the left and right, opening up the original corridor and allowing for a more open view up the hole and the fairway is almost double the width.



One of the challenges of the renovation was correcting the steep slope that ran across the fairway from high right to low left. The slope was so severe that even when the fairway was the slow running kikuyu grass, shots would rarely stay on the cut surface. One can only how this would have fared once the conversion to couchgrass was complete.





To create a more playable fairway area we built a tier or spine running lengthways through its middle, creating an upper (right) and lower (left) section of fairway.

 

The green has been set up to favour a shot up the narrower right hand section of fairway, with the reward both a more direct line and clear view of the target. Conversely, the shot from the left hand side of the fairway is both blind and requires a pitch over a steep bank filled with bunkers.

 



 



Hole 16
The dogleg 16th, played over the edge of a large sand dune filled with bunkers features one of the more dramatic tee shots on the course. The largest of the bunkers must be negotiated in order to gain the best line into the angled green, whether short of, over or skirting as near to as possible.



Players can decide to take no risk at all and stay well short of the bunker on the corner, however the shot to the green is largely blind, with only the top half of the flag visible.

Such decisions didn’t exist on the old hole. The tee was well right of its current location and the corner of the hole was covered in pine trees. Whilst long hitters could play over the trouble, short hitters had no hope of a clear second.



Some may accuse us of ‘straightening another dogleg’ but like most of the great short par fours in the world, the golfer on the tee can at least get a glimpse of the target they are to attack. To the right of the 16th lies the spare hole. In the early stages of shaping we looked to try and hide the spare from view, but it felt forced and the ridge used to hide the spare green from view also detracted from the 16th tee. In the end we decided to link the two rather than separate them, with short grass tieing the fairways together and the greenside bunkers of the spare coming into play of off the 16th tee.



 



 

:: Mike Cocking

Golf Course Architecture article about Bonnie Doon GC

ARTICLE FROM: Golf Course Architecture

WRITTEN BY: Scott Warren


Newly-formed Ogilvy Clayton Design has completed its first project, as Scott Warren reports.

Play has begun on six new holes at Sydney’s Bonnie Doon Golf Club, marking the completion of the first stage of the club’s redesign by Ogilvy Clayton Design.

The design is the first by the new company that brought together Mike Clayton and his countryman, 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, as well as co-principals Michael Cocking and Ashley Mead, both of whom had worked with Clayton in the previous iteration of his design company.

Five holes were redesigned on the club’s heavily undulating and sandy site, while another two were created from scratch on previously undeveloped land between Bonnie Doon and the neighbouring Eastlake GC. All bar one are now in play, with the last hole planted during Sydney’s cold and wet summer requiring more time to grow in.

Par 3 15th


Among the highlights of the new holes are a treacherous uphill short par three to one of Clayton’s wildest greens that plays just 120m from the back tee, a dual-route par five with a heaving and false-fronted boomerang green and a driveable par four offering a number of options, including a smart mid-iron lay-up to an enlarged natural ridge – that feature among suggestions made by Ogilvy during his time walking the course prior to development.

The next tranche of work on the course is expected to include a further handful of holes adjoining the northeastern section of the property redesigned in stage one, which also saw the club build an expansive short game practice area and extend its driving range.

The influx of new members drawn by the new holes and practice facilities has bolstered its renowned ranks of low-handicap golfers and led to a waiting list being established in a climate where other clubs in the region have been forced to relax entry requirements to maintain a healthy membership.

Clayton had previously co-designed both Barnbougle Dunes and St Andrews Beach with American architect Tom Doak and carried out a redesign of The Lakes GC, which flanks Bonnie Doon and Eastlake in the city’s southeastern suburbs.

The firm is also responsible for the redesigns of Brisbane’s Royal Queensland and Perth’s Lake Kurrinyup, along with well-received work at both Kingston Heath and Victoria golf clubs on the Melbourne Sandbelt, while Ogilvy Clayton Design was recently engaged to undertake work on all 27 holes at Royal Canberra Golf Club.

Scott Warren is a golf journalist based in Sydney.

 

:: Peter Bessey

Building Bunkers at Bonnie Doon GC

As the course at Bonnie Doon GC takes shape, Ashley and I have been back to redefine the bunker shapes, lips and positioning.  This video goes in-depth about how we work and how we build bunkers.

:: Mike Cocking