9786 Archives for May 2013 | Classic British Golf Tours & Information | Scotland Wales England Ireland

2013 May

#3: 30 May 2013 – Many Fine Courses Are a Testament to His Memory

Born in 1869 and a lawyer by training, Harry Shapland Colt is one of the finest architects the game has ever known; practicing during a time when golf was experiencing a huge increase in popularity.  While attending Clare College, Cambridge, Colt’s fondness for golf grew stronger with each passing year.  In his final year, Colt was Captain of the Cambridge University Golf Club.  Not long afterwards he was elected a member of the Royal & Ancient and in 1891 claimed the first place prize in the Jubilee Vase (he was to win it again in 1893).  His game was sharp enough to enter the Open later that year (the only time he ever played in the Open) at The Old Course, but he finished well down with two scores in the 90s.  While his design style very much looked to the future, Colt kept one eye on the past.  The Old Course’s encouragement to require golfers to think was an influence evident throughout Colt’s career.

Colt went down from Cambridge with a degree in law and as many Oxbridge lawyers do, found himself in London gaining practical experience.  Although Colt had made the leap into the profession proper, he kept his poker in the fire of golf.  It is thought that in 1894 Colt may have mapped out the original links at Rye, but there can be no doubt that Colt was instrumental in the development of the club and course.   After failing to land the job as Secretary of the R&A, in 1901 Colt was appointed Secretary to the newly formed Sunningdale Golf Club.  It was at Sunningdale that Colt was to get his first opportunities in the field of design and within five years Colt was a fully fledged architect.  Retaining amateur status in the very professional world of golf design, Colt continued to regularly enter the Amateur Championship and in 1906 made it to the semi-final at Hoylake.  Colt was never again to reach such lofty heights in competitive golf.

Ingeniously, Colt organized a golf construction division for Frank Harris Bros and hired the man to lead the crew, Mr Willie Murray.  Before this, Colt became an agent for Shanks Mowing Machine Company and became an advisor for Suttons, a seed company.  With design, construction, seeding and maintenance covered, all was in place for Colt to revolutionize the profession of architecture.  The final piece of the puzzle was to discover suitable inland terrain near the booming cities of England.  Mure Fergusson had already demonstrated what was possible at New Zealand with immense tree clearing and other amateur golfer architects such as Herbert Fowler (Walton Heath Old), Willie Park Jr (Sunningdale Old, Notts & Huntercombe – 1901), Paton & Low (Woking – 1901) and Alister MacKenzie (Alwoodley – 1907) created groundbreaking designs on heathland.  Through his contacts at Sunningdale, Colt became the driving force behind the creation of Swinley Forest, a masterpiece which combined the elements of strategic design demonstrated earlier with a beautiful naturalist approach in incorporating bunkers, rough and heather.  Since its inception in 1909/10, Swinley has remained an iconic design which continues to influence architects and delight golfers.

After a break in business due to WWI, Colt resumed activity as a designer in 1919 as a partnership of Colt, MacKenzie and Alison.  It isn’t clear if Colt and MacKenzie actually collaborated on designs.  Indeed, it has been suggested the two formed a marriage of convenience to reduce competition between them.  It is uncertain when the partnership dissolved, but in the fall of 1926 MacKenzie sailed for Australia to embark on what was to become an incredibly productive eight years before his death in 1934.  A few years earlier, the all round sportsman, John Morrison joined the firm.  By 1928 a new partnership of Colt, Alison and Morrison was formed.  Hugh Alison came to golf design much the way Colt did.  As Secretary of Stoke Poges Golf Club, Alison assisted Colt in the design of several high profile courses; Northamptonshire Co (1909), Denham (1910), St Georges Hill (1912) and Camberley Heath (1913).  Much like MacKenzie, Alison was to gain great fame with his work outside of Europe in the 1930s.  Tokyo, Fuji, Hirono and Kawana (all in Japan) are the four courses cited most often in serving Alison’s cause as a great architect.

Colt continued to help mould wonderful designs for championship play and humble golfers alike until his retirement in 1945.  There are far too many to list, but a short sample makes it abundantly clear that Colt was an extraordinary architect. Swinley Forest, St Georges Hill, Toronto, Hamilton, Co Sligo, Wentworth, Sunningdale New, Kennemer, Utrecht, Royal Portrush, Muirfield, Lytham & St Annes, Ganton, Formby, Royal Liverpool, Southerndown, Porthcawl, Aberdovey, Burnham & Berrow, Royal Worlington & Newmarket, Royal Co Down and on and on and on.

By Sean | Categories Uncategorized

#2: 11 May 2013 – Youth Isn’t Wasted on the Young

Southerndown is a delightful course located high above the British Channel with an excellent architectural pedigree.  Nothing less than the sterling trio of HS Colt, H Fowler & T Simpson had a hand in creating course.  The club is perhaps best known as the host of  The Duncan Putter, named in honour of one the most esteemed golfing families in Wales.  The Putter is the opening 72 hole tournament of the Great Britain and Ireland amateur schedule.  Competitors will hope to get an early jump on impressing Walker Cup selectors by playing well.

The Duncan’s family background was in journalism. Lt Colonel Tony Duncan would likely have become a journalist, but his father, John Duncan, sold the business.   After moving to Southerndown John would win the club championship on three occasions well after being crowned Welsh Amateur Champion twice.  But it is to Tony Duncan with which we can trace the Putter.  Inaugurated in 1959, the Duncan Putter has always enjoyed great support perhaps because of the Colonel’s impeccable reputation as an excellent golfer and meticulous organizer.  Tony Duncan won four Welsh Amateur Championships, finished runner-up in the 1939 British Amateur and captained the 1953 Walker Cup side.

Past winners of the Duncan Putter include a bevy of wins by Peter McEvoy, himself a tw0-time winner of the Amateur Championship, Walker Cup player on five occasions and the winning captain of the 1999 and 2001 Walker Cups.  Long time stalwart of British amateur golf, Gary Wolstenholme won the Putter three times during the 1990s. He bookended these victories with two British Amateur titles (1991 & 1999) and six appearances in the Walker Cup.  Perhaps we are witnessing the beginnings of another legendary amateur career.  This year’s champion was not only a surprise, but the victory marks the youngest winner of the event.  15 year old Welsh golfer from the Vale Resort, Tim Harry, claimed the prize after stellar golf over nearly four rounds.  Tim Harry led after each day’s play and despite losing the lead midway through the final round, this product of the Welsh Golfing Union’s elite programme fought back to nip Ireland’s Shane McGlynn and English player Freddie Sheridan-Mills who closed with an impressive 64.  Harry’s two rounds in the 60s might seem impressive, but it was round two’s 57 which peaks interest. A long delay with a ruling made it impossible for the field to finish the round, consequently only 15 holes counted!

Ted’s mother, Justine was on the bag during the weekend and is a steadying influence; reminding him that GCSE’s are just around the corner and these take precedent over Ted’s playing schedule.  However, with a +1 handicap and sitting atop the Pinnacle Order of Merit (the top 7 are invited to represent Wales in the Home International Series held at Ganton), Ted may have dreams of stealing a spot on the Walker Cup team which come September will travel to Long Island to play the fabled National Golf Links against a formidable American squad – and indeed, why not?

By Sean | Categories Uncategorized

#1: 2 May 2013 – Helpful Information

Welcome to the inaugural entry for this journal.  I hope this will be one of many to come.  The intent of this sporadic journal is to cover any topic connected with golf which takes my fancy.  Since my goal is to provide high quality holidays I thought my first effort should focus on various matters concerning holiday planning which is helpful in outlining the best itinerary; so here goes.

  • How large is the party?  Are there any non-golfers?
    • Don’t worry if the party is an uneven number.  Also, it is usually much easier to book exactly what is desired if the party is 8 or less. 
  • How will the party enter the country?
  • Will the group travel together?  In separate vehicles?  Is a driver required?
  • Desired time of year for visit?
    • The weather can often be ideal for golf during the shoulder months of April/May & September/October.  Condition of courses can peak during the autumn months with the rough being far less punishing than during the summer.  However, as the weather is hit and miss, pick the dates that are best for your party.
  • Length of stay?
  • Which area(s)/courses are most desirable?
    • An itinerary full of demanding championship links golf can quickly wear golfers down.  It is often very enjoyable to play some shorter, sportier courses.
  • Style of courses most desirable?
    • Don’t be detoured from playing inland courses.  It is especially the case in England that some heathland courses are of a very high standard and picturesque. 
  • Does the group want to play some or all of the courses more than once?
    • Travel and time zone changes can take their toll; don’t book too many 36 hole days unless you are very keen.  It can often be the case that if one chooses, he can book a second game on the same day after the morning round. 
  • Does the group have an accommodation preference?  For instance, B&Bs, hotels, quality. Location (in towns or countryside)?
  • Does the group want to stay in one accommodation or move around?
  • Which types of rooms are desired (i.e. singles, doubles or twins)?
  • Does the party want to book some restaurants in advance?
  • What is the budget per person not including airfare?
  • Is it more important to adhere to the budget or meet desired experience?

Other information?

By golfmainadmin | Categories Updates