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GolfClubAtlas.com => Golf Course Architecture => Topic started by: Ran Morrissett on November 26, 2017, 04:42:53 AM

Title: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Ran Morrissett on November 26, 2017, 04:42:53 AM
Please forgive this new thread on an old topic but alas, the stupid GCA search engine didnít enable me to find my original 2011 Huntercombe post on GolfClubAtlas.com. Here is the updated profile:

http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/england/huntercombe-golf-club/ (http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/england/huntercombe-golf-club/)

When you return to a place after several years, how often does your opinion change, for the better or worse?

Logically, I think your opinion more often goes down. There are a few reasons. First, if you are returning on your own volition (as opposed to perhaps a corporate outing), then you probably liked it plenty the first time and on balance thereís more to the downside. If it is a modern course, the housing component might be felt to a greater degree, which is unlikely to be an additive. If it has been a decade plus between visits, tree growth and other unnecessary plantings may have inserted themselves into the picture.

Conversely, there is more quality restoration work going on now than ever, so maybe you are in for a pleasant surprise. Also, when you experience something novel, you might not readily process/fully appreciate exactly what you are seeing on the first go around. That was true for me at Wolf Point and recently at Huntercombe. Certainly, great designs donít blurt out all their secrets after just one round. 

Since my first visit in 2011 to the Chiltern Hills, the club has made strides in clearing brush and opening up air flow. Even more than that, Willie Park Juniorís singular design continues to captivate. This is heresy in some circles but did Colt ever build a better set of greens than Park did at Huntercombe? Think about it - I can't name it if he did. Greens at grade - that should be a standalone GCA thread. Clap, clap, clap is all I am going to say. Also, there is Huntercombe's well placed hollows and depressions that carry the day in lieu of bunkers. Such features stem from building a course on land/soil well-suited for golf. You can't do it on clay, you would end up with mud pits. Great soil gives an architect options and Park availed himself of them at Huntercombe.

In this update, there are a couple better pictures of some of the green contours than in the old profile. Take a look at the one of the 13th, for instance. I wish Raynor was alive to turn that into a template!

Veering off-topic, two of the brightest people I have met through GolfClubAtlas are both members at Huntercombe. Happenstance? I think not and thankfully, I only lost to one of them this time.  :'( ;) Richard Fisher has this to say about playing here: ĎYou could say that (for member purposes) the 'Combe is very largely (like Worlington) a 2-ball course, and that informs the pace of play and general ambience, which remains one of calm and quiet, rather than crowd and urgency. The latter unquestionably has its place in sport, but it's good, from time to time, to sample the alternative...í

Sign me up! In so many ways, when my mind wonders to thoughts of the Carthage Club, I end up thinking of Huntercombe.

Best,
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Sean_A on November 26, 2017, 05:31:34 AM
Very fine Ran.  It doesn't seem like 10 years since I first (I think anyway, maybe a did a tour earlier and lost it) did a tour of Huntercombe.  How time flies. I wish the club would at the least explore what they had in the ground all those years ago.  I think this design is worth bringing back to life.  I am sometimes asked which course(s) would like to see properly renovated and my stock answer has been Princes.  A few years ago I added Huntercombe to the answer.  Look at the image below and tell me you don't think the orginal design is miles better than what is in the ground today.


http://golfcoursehistories.com/HC.html

Ciao 
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Adam Lawrence on November 26, 2017, 06:40:09 AM
I've just finished writing a report for Huntercombe on the design history of the course. Very interesting stuff. Those who are friends with me on Facebook may recall me asking a cryptic question, viz, which more than 100 year old course was more than 500 yards longer on opening day than it is today, and the answer to that is Huntercombe, though in fairness it is very unsure as to the course's exact length back in 1901. There is a scorecard printed in the Sporting Life around the opening which has the course at a truly remarkable 6,810 yards, although in the club's own early advertising it was listed as 6,503 (still extremely long). And today it is 6,300.

I'll try and upload some of the photos of the course in its early days. Remarkable now that it is so lightly bunkered. Back in the early 1900s there were quite a lot more, and they were BIG. Some were filled in quite early as there were problems finding sand: they dug a pit and were extracting sand from it, but protestors against the course (it was built on an old common) kept coming in at night and dumping all the barrows etc in the pit.


The Travis quote that Ran cites is pretty remarkable. He wasn't the only one to think that. Garden Smith wrote a lot about Huntercombe in its early years and regularly referred to it as the best inland course in the world.


The original clubhouse was Huntercombe Manor itself, on the other side of the Oxford to Henley road. Players had to walk about three or four hundred yards to get to the course and tee off; the course then started on what is now the fourteenth hole, and finished on the thirteenth. Ben Cowan asked about Park template holes recently; the thirteenth (now the eighth) was modelled on the Pandy hole at Musselburgh, and there are stories of Willie repeatedly taking the train home to East Lothian during construction to check out some design detail he wanted to use, always returning within forty eight hours. There's a monograph to be done examining similarities between Huntercombe and Musselburgh; I'm sure that hole isn't the only one.
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Niall C on November 26, 2017, 07:45:15 AM
Adam


I for one would love to read your history of the course. Is that something that is going to be published in due course ?


Niall
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Adam Lawrence on November 26, 2017, 07:47:12 AM
Not really; it's part of a report for the club on design policy issues.
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: John Kavanaugh on November 26, 2017, 08:30:48 AM
Strictly for my game and where I am at in this point of my life I felt Huntercombe to be the most perfect course on earth.
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Adam Lawrence on November 26, 2017, 09:34:17 AM
FWIW, and especially with reference to the old aerial that Sean shared, I have to question the '25 bunkers at opening' statistic. My impression is that the course in its original form, was not especially lightly bunkered.
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Thomas Dai on November 26, 2017, 11:59:42 AM
Well done on the updated profile Ran.
Huntercombe, splendid course. Nice to hear some tree work is being undertaken. From my plays more is needed.
The 1946 aerial is interesting. Some very large bunkers back then, and not all, unless Iím mistaken, in the same places as at present.
Atb
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Sean_A on November 26, 2017, 12:28:00 PM
Adam

I don't think the course had more than 40 bunkers so I would say Hunterconbe was fairly lightly bunkered.  It seems to me though that there are some critical bunkers which should be replaced.

Ciao
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Bill_McBride on November 30, 2017, 03:50:46 PM
Strictly for my game and where I am at in this point of my life I felt Huntercombe to be the most perfect course on earth.

I wouldn't go quite that far, John, but I was captivated by the charm and quirk of the course.  From the sloping fairway at #2 to the bifurcated green at #4 to the wild green at #13 to the pits before #16 green, it was just way too much fun.  The only hole I found out of character was the 17th, with its raised green and bunkers in the face.
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Ari Techner on December 09, 2017, 11:50:49 AM
Playing Huntercombe in a few months.  Can't wait.  I can tell you that I love the 3rd at Meadowbrook.......
Title: Re: Updated Huntercombe profile posted under Courses by Country
Post by: Rich Goodale on December 09, 2017, 06:00:42 PM
Great photos, Ran.  The only place it reminds me of is Myopia. Did Willie Park, Jr. visit there and/or did he maybe have done some stealth work improving upon Campbell and Leeds?


Slainte


Rich