Golf Course Architecture - Issue 58 October 2019

67 ROYAL NORWI CH may reach for an iron. The par-four tenth, for example, places a premium on accuracy from the tee. It’s a long hole so laid-up tee shots will leave another long shot, but it has one of the course’s most accessible greens, open right across the front and tilted from back-to-front. The fifteenth and sixteenth also require exacting tee shots, meaning golfers will need to hold their nerve as they approach the end of the round. The seventeenth is a short par three, but the only hole on the course where water is in play – a lake will need to be carried from all but the most forward tee box. When the pin is on the left of the wide green, the carry is at its longest and the target its narrowest; taking direct aim will bring the risk of a spoiled scorecard. Throughout the course the quality of construction – by MJ Abbott – is outstanding: bunkering is used sparingly but is bold, and the green complexes are particularly striking. Most are open to a running approach and short grass run-offs have been employed extensively in the surrounds to leave an array of recovery options – it will often be possible to use a putter, but a more demanding shot may be required to get close to the pin. For this design approach to work, the course will have to play reasonably firm and the club and design team have gone to great lengths to provide the best possible playing surfaces. Soil amendments from Profile Products have been used to promote turf health (see page 54), while moisture sensors and a new Rain Bird irrigation system give the greenkeeping team the ability to precisely control the application of water on the course. In the UK, this may be one of the most significant golf projects of recent years, and we should be grateful that someone has taken on the challenge of reinventing the club experience. Early signs are promising. Even before the new course opened in October, Grice said that membership numbers had risen from 400 to over 1,000. A welcoming environment that is focused on enjoyment seems like an obvious way forward for golf, and Royal Norwich could be the poster child for this movement. For others tempted to follow, it might be worth jumping before you are pushed. GCA “Bunkering is used sparingly but is bold, and the green complexes are particularly striking” Careful consideration was taken to ensure greens on the woodland holes would have ample sunlight and air movement Photo: GCA