Tony Lally, Chairman of Course Development and Director of York Golf Club, describes a new Course Master Plan which had particular emphasis on the position and quality of the bunkers, tee positioning, woodland management and heathland restoration.
York Golf Club was founded in 1890 on the Racecourse in the City of York. Just over a decade later the Committee decided a new course was required and they employed the top golf course designer at the time, John Henry Taylor. In 1903, the course was laid out on gently undulating heathland at Strensall to the east of York and play commenced a year later.
In the century after very little had changed in the layout of the course, so the Committee decided in 2013 it was time to invest in a major Course Development Programme.
We approached a number of established Golf Course Architects including Hawtree, who had done some minor works in prior years, as well as Jonathan Gaunt who was recommended to us by other golf clubs he had worked on.
We found Jonathan’s sympathetic approach to improving the course was very much in line with the ethos of our club.
He was appointed to carry out a full review of the course with particular emphasis on the position and quality of the bunkers, tee positioning, woodland management and heathland restoration. A Course Master Plan was produced which received member’s full approval and work was scheduled over the next five years.
Some bunkers that were positioned for play over a century ago no longer became hazards for modern equipment, serving only to penalise the higher handicap golfer, so they were removed and replaced with strategically placed ones nearer to 250 yards from the tee. This made these new bunkers a match for modern day equipment, thus future proofing the golf course for years to come.
All the bunkers on the course have now been redeveloped with new drainage, revetted edges and sand.
We also installed new tees in a number of locations thus lengthening the course which raised the Standard scratch rating which was well received by members.
Jonathan suggested introducing more areas of heather that was sympathetic to a Lowland Heath course like ours. As a result, 40,000 new heather plugs (germinated seedlings) have been reintroduced to the course, grown from our own harvested seed, along with new gorse bushes and some native trees. Over 50 bird boxes have also been installed on the course to encourage nesting.
Now the course development work has been completed we have attracted many new members who want to be part of and play on this challenging but fair golf course.
We have a full membership for Men and have increased our Lady’s section membership by 40% over the past few years. Our Visitor income continues to rise, as our objective has been to attract fewer visitors who pay more to play our wonderful new course. As a members’ club it is important to get this balance right.
Our members are delighted and very proud of the upgraded golf course that they are now members of.
Working with Jonathan over the past years has been a real pleasure, we have really benefitted from his golf course design experience, bringing to us many new ideas and features that have really enhanced the playing experience.
We have no hesitation in recommending the services of Jonathan to any golf club that are thinking of upgrading the course
Gaunt Golf Design https://gaunt-golf-design.com/
York Golf Club https://www.yorkgolfclub.co.uk/
Top picture: New-look #18 at York Golf Club