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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Sterling STONEHAM GC: 2018-19 Winter Tour New
« on: August 17, 2007, 12:11:39 PM »
Formerly a deer park, Stoneham was built in 1908 to a Willie Park Jr design.  The routing is unusual in that the front nine runs counter clockwise around the perimeter of the property and the back nine essentially flows clockwise inside the front nine loop (shades of Muirfield!).  Combined with the hilly property, the effect is disorienting, but exhileratingly so. Most of the holes play in a valley with a few gullies knifing the through property.  It is the ample use of these gullies which give Stoneham much of its character. 

During the past four years or so the club has embarked on Project 2020. The club engaged Ken Moodie and John Nicholson to recreate the former glory of Stoneham.  As is the case with many clubs embarking on similar programs, the focus was on tree clearance, bunker renovation and turf improvement in conjunction with heather rejuvenation.  With the tree clearance the course feels more vibrant. There are enthralling views over the course and some beautiful specimen trees now fully on display.  Don't misundestand, Stoneham remains an essentially tree-lined course, but there is a refinement which is easy on the eye. 

Overall, I am very impressed with the course, especially the par 4s and 5s (many of which will play like long 4s for those who aren't length challenged). Considering there are five par threes, the set doesn't stand out, with one exception, the 225 yard blind 7th. 

The more open nature of the course is immediately apparent on the three-shot opener.  Before and after.  I am not sure why the forward bunker was removed. 




The second shot is blind and runs downhill; consequently many people can reach the green in two.  The green runs away from play, but there is a shelf near the front where the hole is located in the photo.


#2 is a decent par 3.  The course really gets going on the third.  To carry the dip requires a solid strike of maybe 250 yards, anything short leaves a blind approach.  The longer carry on the left will leave a better line of approach.  This hole is a great example of using the terrain well. Before and after.




The 4th is the first of many blind tee shots.  In this instance, a burn lies about 250 - 270 out, very reachable for some.  In the first photo it is easy to see the severely sloped fairway. 




A tight hole, the short two-shotter 5th legs right between bunkers.


My drive caught the left bunker and left me in a very odd situation.  Either due to the grade of the face, the sand not clinging to the liner or a combination of both, I couldn't get a stance.  I simply slid down the face of what was essentially the bunker liner.  In the end I just had to hit the ball before sliding too much...never experienced that before!


The sixth is another short par 5, but getting home in two is tough because the immediate approach to the green is on a plateau and protected at each corner by a bunker.  Immediately left of this bunker is a great hollow which looks like it works for drainage. I am somewhat surprised the hole isn't oriented to use this feature better. Perhaps the area gets too wet in winter.


If the green can't be reached, one must decide on laying up for a fairly level approach or being stuck well below the green with a possible blind approach.  There are a handful of these type holes at Stoneham...rather reminds me of many a Ross course.


The 7th is most unusual; a 225 yard blind par 3.  The terrain swings in from the dangerous boundary on the right side of the hole and works around a front left bunker.  I must say that I admire the hole without totally liking it.  In other words, it makes me feel very uncomfortable on the tee.  Every course needs holes like this which niggle the player.

The 8th is another one shotter.  Its not a bad hole, but somehow I think better use of the land could have been achieved.  Its a bit of a letdown considering how the previous holes used the land expertly.  Before and after.




The 9th isn't one of the standout holes, yet there is a certain attraction in trying to reach the top of the ridge. 


This isn't one of the best stretches of the course because two of the short holes lack the flair of many two-shotters.  In the 10th we get another short hole, the third in four holes.  I do, however, like the deceptively large green.


We now commence a purple patch of holes from 11-15.   Below is the approach to the shelf green 11th.  Before and after.




A lovely par 5, the twelfth plays longer than its suggested yardage. While reachable (except for 18!); all of the par 5s at Stoneham share this characteristic.  A good drive will finish blindly beyond the right bunker.






The course (in praise of yellow tees!) clocks in at just under 6000 yards, though it does feel longer.  Part of the reason for this is the plethora of par fives.  Balanced against these par 5s are five short holes and two par 4s under 300 yards.  In modern design it has often been the case that the yadage range from 225ish to 300ish is ignored.  This is most  regretable because holes such as the thirteenth don't get built.  Being 250 yards this is a reachable hole, but blind and with trees guarding the left of the green.  The smart play is a 200 yard layup leaving a shot straight up the narrow green, but the temptation is just too much for most golfers who can reach the putting surface.  It easy to see how being on the safe right side of the fairway leaves the golfer with nothing but headaches.   


#14 continues the fun with a slinging legger to the right.  This par 5 is reachable, but dangerous.  Below is a view of the terrain and how a pushed 2nd leads to a blind third.  The fairway feeds beautifully into the green with a hard left to right roll.




Hang onto your hats because 15 is another rollercoaster.




#16 is a short, uphill par 3 with fronting bunkers similar to #8.  The green pinches on the left.   


More water for the very good 17th.  The stream for this low lying green was created about 25 years ago.  It gives the hole a meadow-like feel which is welcome before the trials of the home hole.


Harshly uphill, the 18th comes at the wrong time in the round!


I am taken aback at the quality of Stoneham and I cannot praise it enough. While not strictly a heathland property, the club is keen to inject any possible heathand features into the course.   Stoneham is every bit as good as many London courses, but like Beau Desert, it is in an unfashionable city (Southampton) and therefore receives few accolades.  I am not convinced there are any All-England candidates holes, but the Stoneham package is delightful all the same.  For anybody interested in seeing how a course uses its terrain supremely well, Stoneham should not be missed.  2019

Ciao   
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 07:27:21 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Peter Pallotta

Re:Stoneham
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2007, 02:14:05 PM »
Sean
as always, thanks very much for the pictures (and the always helpful commentary).

To my mind, you're a lucky fellow, and one with very good taste: whether it's seaside or parkland courses, you always seem to be choosing/playing amongst the PRETTIEST courses I've ever seen.

Peter


Brad Tufts

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2007, 04:02:34 PM »
For my rant of the day....

One of the best things about this site, in my opinion, is the exposure to some of these great "unknown" courses in the British Isles.  There have been so many of these profiled here that don't get much attention vs. the Open hosts and famous courses that even Americans know about.  The "normal" or "solid local" course in the UK destroys the same in the US, even here in New England where we have many historical, well-designed mature courses.  I know a course like, say, Myopia, is one of the better old courses in the US, but I see profiles like this, and they look almost the same.  I would play a course like that any day if I lived nearby, something I wouldn't say about more than a couple of the local publics around Boston.  The "solid local" course profiled in this thread is well-maintained, well-designed, quirky, fun, and probably has some history.  At best, our "solid local" courses here have only two or three of those qualties per course.

Thanks Sean!

-Brad
So I jump ship in Hong Kong....

Marty Bonnar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2007, 04:14:39 PM »
Arbs,
gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Lucky for us, in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen!!! ;D

Heathland in August is among my ultimate golf faves. The colours/textures/light combo is v. intoxicating. I can smell the pines and heather from here.

This pic:

says it all.

I bet the green fees were a bargain too!

FBD.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Marty Bonnar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2007, 04:53:19 PM »
Sean,
clearly that english beer has finally befuddled your brain. I haven't spoken of the BB (one 'n') here.

Funnily enough, Uncle Boab once mentioned he'd like to visit to play Huntly (he mentioned another GCAer also with a 'course name', which escapes me for the moment. Help, dear uncle!)

Wouldn't it be cool to play the course with an association to your name! I must get to BB sometime. Shame on me, once again.

What others do we have amongst our brethren? We have plenty (st)Andrews, a few (royal st)Georges. There's gotta be a Cullen, a Meldrum, a Dunbar, there is a Ralston!, is there an Erskine or a Peebles?, a Gifford or a Dunbar? Where are you?

FBD.
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Voytek Wilczak

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2007, 05:03:54 PM »
The "normal" or "solid local" course in the UK destroys the same in the US...snip

And, you can PLAY THEM!

That's the cool part.

In the US, courses of comparable quality tend to be private and exclusive.

end rant

Philip Gawith

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2007, 06:33:21 AM »
Thanks Sean - great looking course that enters the list! I love the look and feel of some of the fairways which testify to a course that has been around a long time.

Philip

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2007, 05:36:49 AM »
Sean, I'm so pleased you liked Stoneham. I've been banging on about it for years. It's interesting to note that the Brabazon Trophy (our national amateur strokeplay) was played there in 1993 and it is a course of 6400 yards. I wonder how they fared with the blind shots. A friend of mine's son, who is now a young professional, played two rounds here as an amateur six or seven years ago. In the morning he shot in the high 80s, falling into all the traps. In the afternoon he was round in 64 or 65 - this time he knew where the traps (and I don't mean bunkers) were!

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2007, 07:31:39 PM »
Sean, I'm so pleased you liked Stoneham. I've been banging on about it for years. It's interesting to note that the Brabazon Trophy (our national amateur strokeplay) was played there in 1993 and it is a course of 6400 yards. I wonder how they fared with the blind shots. A friend of mine's son, who is now a young professional, played two rounds here as an amateur six or seven years ago. In the morning he shot in the high 80s, falling into all the traps. In the afternoon he was round in 64 or 65 - this time he knew where the traps (and I don't mean bunkers) were!

Mark

I didn't just like Stoneham, I fell very hard for it!  I would certainly go out of my way to play it again.  

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

JMorgan

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2007, 08:11:41 PM »
I missed this post, Sean.  Absolutely beautiful.  

My take re Colt/Park:  I don't think Colt was too thrilled with Park blindness (tee shots and bunkers), but I do think he admired Willie's routing skills and ability to locate and utilize natural features.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 08:25:34 PM by JMorgan »

Joe Hancock

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2007, 09:18:10 PM »
Hey Peter,

Let's go visit Sean for a month or so...... ;D

Joe
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

Peter Pallotta

Re:Stoneham
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2007, 10:18:55 PM »
Ah, wouldn't that be nice, Joe. I'd enjoy that.  

But still, my first ever golfclubatlas.com road trip is going to be to Grand Rapids, Michigan. That's for certain.

Hey, I think Sean is from Michigan originally. A coincidence?

Yeah, probably just a coincidence ;D

Peter  
 

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re:Stoneham
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2007, 05:14:31 AM »
I missed this post, Sean.  Absolutely beautiful.   

My take re Colt/Park:  I don't think Colt was too thrilled with Park blindness (tee shots and bunkers), but I do think he admired Willie's routing skills and ability to locate and utilize natural features.

J Morgan

It is certainly my impression that Colt was not a fan of blind shots - especially approaches.  Though I wouldn't go so far as to say there was any radical idea (during Colt's period) of placing greens on high ground as opposed to low ground as Tom P seems to be suggesting on the Darwin thread.  Part and parcel of using the land well is placing the greens in natural spots: high, low, shelf and whatever else.  Like all of the best archies, Colt used  existing ideas and tried (quite successfully I would say) to improve on them.   

For my part, I never gave Willie Jr much thought.  However, now that I have come across two cracking courses of his which are as different as chalk and cheese (save for using the land superbly) I have a much greater respect for the man and his skills.

Peter & Hey Joe

You are welcome to visit.  I can pitch a tent in the garden and throw a few extra steaks on the Q.  Just don't ask me to pay your green fees.  Alright, I will pay for a game at Pennard because everybody should see that course at least once.  You may have to get in line though.  I hear JakaB is lining up freebies  up and down our fair isle, but I don't think the man has the gumption to actually leave North America in pursuit of his golfing nirvana. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 06:01:44 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Paul Gray

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: STONEHAM
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2014, 06:43:22 PM »
I've bumped this excellent Tour simply because I played Stoneham today I thought people might like a brief update.

The current custodians of Stoneham seem to know their stuff. An extensive tree removal program is very much evident, particularly if today you played the course for the first time in twenty years! There were a few rogue trees about which could perhaps be euphemistic described as 'specimen' trees but, save for those few offenders, the playing corridors were much as desired. I did speak to the Pro after the round and clearly he was of a similar mindset regarding the remaining intrusive trees so hope remains. The usual conversation ensued about members treasuring their precious babies!

What I found particularly refreshing about Stoneham was the complete lack of desire to make fairway lines resemble the actions of drunk kids trying to create crop circles. The fairways simply flowed without any hint of eye candy work in site.

The heather doesn't seem to be thriving at the moment but it never was the perfect site for the purple stuff so I'm not sure too much blame can be attached to the current staff.

I left with a smile on my face and a feeling of having played somewhere 'proper.'
« Last Edit: July 16, 2014, 01:13:12 PM by Paul Gray »
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Ed Tilley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: STONEHAM GC
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2016, 07:23:27 AM »
I played Stoneham on Saturday for the first time. I had high expectations due to Sean's write up above but can honestly say these were exceeded. I live an hour from this course and never hear anything about it. People drive right past to go to Parkstone, Ferndown etc without considering Stoneham which is much the better course IMO.

As per Paul's post they have removed a large amount of trees in the last couple of years which has, according to the people I spoke to, had a dramatic positive effect on the condition of the course. There was plenty of heather and the many elevation changes were used brilliantly. I was flabbergasted by the quality of such an unheralded course.

I was playing in a club match so didn't want to take many pictures but did take some of the 13th and its diabolical green. Excellent stuff







The beautiful 12th



Sam Andrews

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: STONEHAM GC
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2016, 05:04:14 PM »
Dear Sean,


You come up with this now? After all the time I have spent ferrying my son from Kent to county hockey matches against Sussex in Southampton to sit in the rain! I could have abandoned hours of rain-soaked warm ups and warm downs for a round on a gem.

Aargh!
[/size]
[/size][size=78%]Sam [/size]
He's the hairy handed gent, who ran amok in Kent.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: STONEHAM GC
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2016, 04:11:52 AM »
Sam

I apologize for not having the presence of mind to post the mini tour prior to my visit more than 9 years ago  8)

I did see that Doak gave Stoneham high marks, but none of his pals have yet played the course. 

Ed...it is always music to my ears when I hear of chainsaws.  Glad you didn't feel my reco was misguided and that you enjoyed the course.  I really want to get back down there and also see nearby Hayling again. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 04, 2018, 02:50:52 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: STONEHAM GC
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2018, 09:10:48 PM »
Anyone been there the last couple years?
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: STONEHAM GC
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2018, 04:58:27 AM »
Quite a bit of upgrading being undertaken apparently - for more details see - http://www.stonehamgolfclub.org.uk/course/#project2020
atb

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
« Last Edit: August 12, 2020, 02:41:42 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sterling STONEHAM GC: 2019-19 Winter Tour
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2019, 07:28:46 PM »
I took ATB's advice and stopped by Stoneham for game.  My oh my!  The simple act of clearing trees makes a world of difference.  See the seriously updated Tour.

Previous 2018-19 Winter Tour visits

Droitwich
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,25590.msg475757.html#msg475757

Seahouses
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66839.msg1597646.html#msg1597646

Walton Heath Old
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,61415.msg1460548.html#msg1460548

Reigate Heath
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,64197.0.html

Hallamshire
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66568.0.html

Cleeve Cloud
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49796.0.html

Saunton East
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,51415.0.html

Saunton West
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66490.msg1587657.html#msg1587657

Aberdovey
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,43564.0.html

Westward Ho!
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,66480.0.html

Planned Stops

Barton on Sea
Isle of Purbeck
Castlerock Bann 9
Bushfoot

Ciao


I as at Stoneham in November(my long time assistant is from Portsmouth).
Thanks for the reply ATB!
 Was raining pretty good and had been so a bit of  slog but a wonderful course with nice variety, texture and topography.
Nice photos-looks like a great day.

"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sterling STONEHAM GC: 2018-19 Winter Tour
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2019, 04:34:37 AM »


“I love the sound of chainsaws in the morning”.
:)
Atb

Sam Krume

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sterling STONEHAM GC: 2019-19 Winter Tour
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2019, 11:58:01 AM »
I took ATB's advice and stopped by Stoneham for game.  My oh my!  The simple act of clearing trees makes a world of difference. 

I last played Stoneham 5 years ago and to be honest I was not that enamoured with the course but after seeing your new pics, I must get back. It looks great, As you say the simple act of tree/shrub cleareance has given the course a breath of fresh air!!

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sterling STONEHAM GC: 2018-19 Winter Tour
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2019, 06:37:46 AM »
Sam

I am surprised you didn't care for Stoneham.  It seems right up your alley with all those reachable par 5s...

Sometimes clearing out trees can spoil a hole a bit.  The 13th seems a bit neutered with fewer trees left.  Previously, missing left most likely meant a kiss was on the card.  Now there is less pressure on the tee.  Although, I expect the green prefers having more light!  There are some trees on the right side of the fairway which could go.  They really serve as outside lining up points for the blind drive...don't see much point in that. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash

Sam Krume

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Sterling STONEHAM GC: 2018-19 Winter Tour
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2019, 04:15:47 PM »
Sam

I am surprised you didn't care for Stoneham.  It seems right up your alley with all those reachable par 5s...

Sometimes clearing out trees can spoil a hole a bit.  The 13th seems a bit neutered with fewer trees left.  Previously, missing left most likely meant a kiss was on the card.  Now there is less pressure on the tee.  Although, I expect the green prefers having more light!  There are some trees on the right side of the fairway which could go.  They really serve as outside lining up points for the blind drive...don't see much point in that. 

Ciao
Sean,As I said when played last (5 years ago now!!) the course didnt really stir my soul. I felt the course was being slightly suffocated by the encroaching tree/shrub lines. I could see that there was something quite nice on the ground but felt an axe would have been a good 15th club in my bag. Must get back following your new pics. with regards to the 13th, to me I think the pressure of the drive is trying to hit the greens narrow entrance, the trees are neither here or there...

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