Golf Course Architecture - Issue 59, January 2020

48 third, but the long hitter finds himself faced with precisely the same problem as at the famouse Redan in North Berwick. In both cases, the proper way to reach the hole is with a pull, so as to come in from the right, but at Malvern the shot is made all the more difficult by having to be played from the fairway instead of from the tee.” He describes the 420-yard hole as “one of the best on the course”. It would seem, and local anecdotes confirm it, that the sixteenth was once a very formidable hole, especially when played wearing a jacket and tie with an early generation wound ball and hickory shafted, wooden headed clubs. In 2015, I undertook a comprehensive review of the club’s history concentrating particularly on the history of the course. This unearthed many old course details, tidbits of information and photographs that had not been seen before or at least not seen for a considerable period of time. One of these discoveries was Browning’s 1927 booklet and the photograph it contained of MacKenzie’s original sixteenth green, since WWII hidden and unloved in a corner of a field still owned by the club, yet only used by a local farmer for grazing sheep. With the approval of the club’s board of directors and the chairman of greens, the farmer removed his sheep and the club’s course manager gradually started to remove vegetation from around the old green, a task made harder given the amount of vegetation that had grown up over the decades and the wetness in the area caused by a severely-blocked field The Worcestershire’s new Wood Farm course that opened in 1927 was, as mentioned above, designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie, but maybe, just maybe, it nearly wasn’t. When he was a very young lad, the later famed golf course architect Harry Colt came to live in Malvern when his recently widowed mother brought her family to live with relatives, and it was on the course on Malvern Common, only a short walk from his home that the young Colt learnt to play the game, subsequently joining the club and remaining a member until 1926. Although a long term member of the Worcestershire and in due course a man with a huge reputation in golf course architecture, Colt was never permitted to make alterations to the course on the Common. In 1925 however, he was invited to look over the proposed new site at Wood Farm and give his proposals. For reasons of cost the contract for the new course was eventually given to Alister MacKenzie, who had not originally been involved in reviewing the proposed new site. However, at around this time a prominent Leeds businessman, Bernal Bagshawe, who was a founding member of Alwoodley, retired to live in Malvern, joined The Worcestershire GC and suddenly MacKenzie came into the picture. This would appear to have caused Colt considerable consternation, presumably not only due to his long standing association with Malvern, his boyhood home town, and the Worcestershire GC, but also because of his once architectural partnership with MacKenzie. Ultimately Colt, in 1926, resigned his long standing membership of the Worcestershire GC and MacKenzie built the new course. As to the current 18-hole course, the layout the club has played over since the mid-1970s, the remaining MacKenzie greens, which are on the smallish size, have considerable contour and, with modern green speeds, considerable challenge too. MacKenzie over Colt WORCESTERSH I RE GC Photo: Courtesy of David Thomas