Howard Swan’s plans will bring the course into the 21st century, making its layout more suited to the modern game whilst retaining the character and intent of the original architect’s design.
The broad aim of the renovation process is to reinvigorate the playing strategy of the course, shape each bunker in proportion with its context, enhance the visual presentation of each hole and enable and encourage the fragile ecology of the remnant heathland areas of the course to thrive and spread.
The plans will see most of the existing bunkers refurbished, with those remaining returned to grass as their positions are no longer strategically relevant. A total of 33 new bunkers will be created. Tree lined fairways with welcoming approaches to the greens will see the new bunkering placing a premium on accuracy and giving great variety of shot making.
The golf course features gentle undulation; golf holes framed by woodland, with pockets of heather across the landscape. The renovation of the 17th hole has seen the introduction of heather to the new bunkering and in line with the Club’s commitment to its restoration, increasing the area of this habitat to frame the fairway and to link with the woodland/scrub margins.
Swan presented his blueprint for a revised course renovation to a room filled with almost 200 club members, setting out his vision for the future evolution of the fine old course.
His detailed report and presentation have been followed up by the initial enhancements, already tangible, during the first stage of the creative renovation process.
Colin Day, Club Secretary, said, “Howard’s presentation consolidated my board’s impression of his professional architectural qualities, sensitive to our wishes for and the needs of the course’s future. We are now embarking on a five-year programme to modernise our bunkers and our tees and to enhance the landscape and the environment of the holes, and the impact of the sheer quality of this first stage, has convinced our members, some doubters amongst them, that we are heading along the right lines.”
Day, delighted with the progress, went on to say, “My Board took the decision, albeit in the midst of a recession, to spend and upgrade our greatest asset, knowing that at some stage we will come through the recession and it might be the survival of the fittest, who can illustrate they have an exceptional course, that actually survive.
“I would have no hesitation in recommending Howard Swan’s services to any golf club that wished to upgrade their course.”
Work began on the renovation in early January 2009, and the first phase is scheduled to be completed within a two-month period.
Swan Golf Designs www.swangolfdesigns.com
East Berkshire Golf Club www.club-noticeboard.co.uk/eastberkshire/