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Sean_A

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Wonderful WOKING GC Revisted New
« on: December 29, 2007, 11:32:05 AM »


Woking is famed for the changes to the greens and bunkers the team of John Low and Stuart Paton effected in the first years of the 20th century.  What isn't well known is that Paton (with the help of Low and occassionally other very well known archies) continued to make changes for nearly four decades!  Both were long time members of Woking and well known in golf circles due to R&A Committee work. Additionally, Low was an excellent amateur golfer and author of Concerning Golf.  In many ways, Low is a forgotten giant of the game.  His stance against "fairness" as a foundation of the rules and architecture was not popular at the time.  Where the rules are concerned it is debatable if his opinions were ever popular.  Continuing with the rules, his fears about the quality of the ball have more or less come true.  Low fought a fierce battle against the introduction of the Haskell because of what the future might bring via technology improvements.  However, where design is concerned, Paton and Low's ideas on strategic design are very much the underpinning of the currrent renaissance being led by Doak, C&C etc. 

The work on Woking's greens and bunkers continued for some years until the course was on equal footing with the reputation of the club. Darwin briefly relates the story in his Golf Courses of the British Isles. "Unconscious of their doom, the members disperse for their summer holidays and when they return they find that the most revolutionary things have been done.  Upon greens that were formerly flat and easy have sprouted plateaus and domes and hollows.  Hillocks have risen as if by magic in the middle of the fairway; 'floral' hazards bloom at the side, and bunkers have been dug at that precise spot where members have for years complacently watched their ball come to rest at the end of their finest shots."

John Low


The most well known and possibly most influential architectural change by the "Junta" was carried out on the 4th in the year 1902.  A "Principal's Nose" bunker was placed in the left-centre of the fairway.  The effect is a remarkable likeness to the tee shot on the 16th of The Old Course at St Andrews.  This was not a coincidental change, but one appealing to the indestructible values of strategic links design.  The middle section of a cross-rampart just shy of the green was also removed to encourage a running approach shot. These changes produced a clear-cut decision to be made on the tee.  Play safely left and leave oneself with a difficult approach across a narrow opening of the green toward the railroad tracks (out of bounds) or take on the out of bounds and the bunker on the tee by threading a drive down the right and thus leaving a relatively easy approach. 

This emphasis on tempting the golfer rather than punishing a poor shot perfectly describes one of John Low's main principles outlined in his Concerning Golf; published in 1903 and perhaps the first book on golf architecture.  "The shortest, most direct line to the hole, even if it be the centre of the fairway, should be fraught with danger."  This concept was more eloquently stated by Max Behr in later years: "The direct line to the hole is the line of instinct, and to make a good hole you must break up that line in order to create the line of charm."  Dr Alister MacKenzie was also greatly influenced by the concept of the Line of Charm and believed no hole was a good one unless it has one or more hazards in the direct line of a hole. In hindsight it is easy to see why the team of Paton and Low are often credited with the re-birth of strategic design at a crucial time in architectural history when the great heathland courses and thus the great architects were only just emerging. 

It is very strange to start on the short two-shotter first when the 14th has the obvious hallmarks of a finisher. Starting on the 15th has three clear advantages.  First and foremost, it would allow the 14th, a mere few steps away from the house veranda, to be the home hole.  Second, it breaks up Woking's two par 5s. Finally, one is properly warmed up and/or recovered from drink to give the first (which would be the 5th) the attention it merits.  The walk around the clubhouse between 18 and 1 is quite short, not much further than from the lockeroom.  It would be a simple matter to make the walk a bit more cheery; truth be told it should be made more attractive in any case. 

The 2nd is the first of a good set of 3 pars.  Curiously, three of the four play to roughly the same yardage, but they have a different look and set of shot requirements.


One shouldn't discuss Woking for long without mention of the first class greens.  In my experience, conceptually, Woking's greens are as good as any I have played.  It was incredibly clever of Paton & Low to allow a handful of more subdued greens (especially the front to backers 1, 4 & 17) to create a devilish foil with the more unruly sort such as on 12, 13 & 15.  The 2nd green.


Probably my favourite hole on the course - #3.  The lay of the land pushes tee shots much further left than is at first apparent.  I think the hole location, as is the case on many of Woking's holes, largely determines the best angle of attack.  Luckily, due to the terrific clearing of trees in recent years, the hole location of the 3rd can be spied from the 1st fairway. 


I can't think of a better placed bunker anywhere. 






In recent years a left hand fairway bunker was added to the famous 4th. It seems to me that this bunker spoils the simple efficiency of the old scheme. Choosing to go left is an awful angle, that in essence is the rabbit line.  The front to back nature of the green is a key feature of the hole which should get more notice.  Darwin was involved in an interesting episode whilst playing this hole during a competition.  After missing birdie putts on each of the opening trio of holes, Darwin then missed a three footer for a 3.  He then fell to his hands and knees, tore a bit if the green away with his teeth and cried in a voice seething with anguish, "O God, are you satisfied now?"


The 5th takes us up the hill which #s 2 & 3 work along. 


The 5th green from the 6th tee.


One of the least engaging holes, the 6th plays between bunkers and has a fine water feature which is not well used. Extending the green to the front left at the edge of the stream would greatly enhance the strategy of the hole.  As designed now, the water does not entice the player to take on a risky play.   




The 7th is the second short hole with all its trouble up front. 


This photo is from well in front of the tee.  It easy to see the left bunker has been reshaped, as have many bunkers.


I always thought the 8th plays and looks a bit similar to the shorter 5th.  One aspect I really like about this hole is that even though this is a slight dogleg, the green can be seen from the tee.   A view of the green on leggers encourages players to hit toward it (the line of instinct) and often end up in trouble. 


The approach shows off the lovely bunker work and the unusual placement of sand.


Irrespective of the rather less than handsome raised back tee, the one hole I am not sold on is the 9th because it's a tee shot where the flat belly has an obviously huge advantage as he can carry the left corner where the likes of me has to go around. Normally this isn't a major issue; except the 9th is a reverse dogleg whereby the hill kicks tee shots out right, away from the target.  Well, all great courses have to have a controversial hole and I reckon this is Woking's.  I have to wonder if altering the 1937 Simpson designed hole was wise. On paper, the long par 4 (then 10th) seemed to be a winner with two centreline bunkers.  I also suspect the long par 3 (then 9th) which played through the current 9th fairway from a tee behind 8 green was better than the current version whose genesis began in 1960.  It would be interesting to know why the changes were made.


The 10th features dead ground shy of the green which makes it hard to to choose the right club.  The green is slightly askew from the tee and a bit of an awkward angle because  Simpson's hole came up the hill diagonally from a spot through the 9th fairway some 430 yards distant.  If one looks from halfway up the 9th fairway, the green makes more sense.  Woking has a little bit of something for everyone.  As such, it has to have red herring bunker or two and that is exactly what the bunker is on the right of the fairway of #11.  Many can carry the bunker so folks will want to have a go, but the carry is for naught as the only reward is a stand of heather.  Cleverly, there is a flat area just beyond the hill and tight to the heather.  One will notice that nearly all of the approaches at Woking are either uphill or downhill.  Many of the seemingly flat approaches are actually front to back running greens.


Turning back on the 11th, the 12th is another one of those holes in which it pays to preview the hole placement earlier in the round.  I think there is a great opportunity to cut the trees down the right and continue the heather toward the green.  Probably the wildest green on the course, but like #6, the green doesn't extend to the front left to make the all the bunkers matter as much as they should.   


The green from just off the 11th tee.


Up to now the heather has mainly been a peripheral hazard which disciplines the wayward golfer.  #s 13 and 14 create angles using the heather.  The 13th slips left around a heather clad bunker.  One will also sense the more enclosed nature and precision required from the tee. 


Rear of the green featuring the slit.


Trees well and truly begin to unnecesssarily encroach on the course...this is evident by the cool, damp climate and a less than full view of the house from the 14th tee.  This feels like it should be the finishing hole, but its the first of two three-shotters, which happen to be back to back.  The "safe" left side of the fairway drops significantly toward the trees.  The player who successfully challenges the heather on the right is rewarded with a flat lie and a better view.  A look at the green. There is a large elongated blind swale short of this green which stalls a long approach.  In an effort to make sure shots climb this slope I reckon many must shoot through the green and end up on the veranda....which is in play.
Sadly, the roof is no longer in play.


Sadly, the roof is no longer in play.


The old green looks a bit more rambunctious!


The 15th isn't an exciting hole, until reaching the green!


The final par 3 takes us over the pond.  If I had to describe the hole in general terms I would say it looks like a modern links par 3.  Maybe the archie tried a bit too hard to create something special because this strikes me as a visually busy hole.  It was completed about 2013 and has been met with mixed reviews.  The green is angled and narrow, leaving precious little space for hole locations.  However, it was the large pimple near the rear of the green which didn't stand up to current maintenance practices.  Rightfully so, the mound has been softened.  The hole isn't far off being excellent,  but perhaps more tree removal left and right and a bunker or two filled in would be in order.  Given the very narrow target, it doesn't seem like four bunkers should required.




On the surface, the penultimate hole may seem a bit dull, but one must take great care with the approach to the severely front to back sloped green - my favourite on the course.  It doesn't look it, but I reckon the green must drop at least two feet from front to back. I wonder if the right-front greenside sand is the famous Johnnie Low bunker; it could be that the green has shrunk. Much like the centreline bunkers on the 4th, this bunker set right into the green and forced a decision to be made.  In other words, the bunker introduced temptation to the hole.

The final hole brings us home in a pleasant manner reminiscent of the finishers at TOC and North Berwick.  Once again the line of instinct takes the golfer rather close to the water's edge.  Unless one can drive the green, the line of charm is a wise road to take, well to the left on the house clock, but not literally as CH Alison did in the 1904 Oxford & Cambridge Society match.  Incidentally, Alison earned a par!  The heathery mound left of the fairway was recently introduced.


Due to golfers intinctively wanting to hit directly at the hole, many approaches are from this sort of angle.


The green is a side by side three tiered affair sloping hard toward the water.


For a golfer looking to play a friendly game on a course which is not overly influenced by the overt trappings of championship golf, there are few better places than Woking.  The course offers enough width to allow aggressive play, the walk is comfortable, the greens are without exception full of interest, there is an unusual variety of bunker placement and the club has an understated elegance which is very becoming. For those who believe that great courses must have great holes, I offer #s 3 & 4 as All-England candidates.  Both are terrific par 4s whose bunker placement is among the very best in the world.  Woking is one of my strong candidates for "If You Could Only Play One Course The Rest Of Your Life" and I hope this tour helps explain why.   1*  2021

Ran's Review.
http://golfclubatlas.com/courses-by-country/england/woking1/
 
Ciao
« Last Edit: February 03, 2022, 02:08:51 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Philip Gawith

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Re:Woking
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2007, 12:27:46 PM »
Did any of you get a picture of the 13th green Sean? Ran covets one for his course profile which has an old one at present.

You are right about the slope of the 4th green - I hit a lob wedge to that green from light rough on the left, and I hit it well, and it still ran through. That is a big part of the protection of the hole.

It is a strong nine holes where the 6th does not deserve a mention! I also like the 4th as a gentle opener which is quite distinctive, and invites you to try to do too much.

TEPaul

Re:Woking
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2007, 12:50:24 PM »
That bunker in the fairway on #4 just might be the most historically significant man-made architectural bunker in the world.

And of course one should not forget the apparent firestorm of controversy it caused when it first appeared.

Today some consider it to be inland architecture's first hazard connection to natural linksland architecture.

Bill_McBride

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Re:Woking
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2007, 12:57:46 PM »
Sean, is that heather above the bunkers?  If not, that is some gnarly rough!

Funny, when I saw the photo of #3 before reading the text, I thought it looked like you could bounce a shot right of the bunker and off that slope onto the green.

Upon closer examination, it looks like there is some slope there that would run a ball off to the right, so maybe not.

Sean_A

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Re:Woking
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2007, 07:14:42 PM »
Sorry Philip, it started to get a bit dark and/or there was loads of bunker work on the back 9.  The 13th does have that funky gulley in the back left which is the most bizarre feature of any of the greens at Woking.

I am not terribly keen on the 6th because I think the bunkering (much of it new) is out of character in both placement (both sides of fairway) and shape with the rest of the course.  They need to work on these a bit.  I also think the water should come more into play on the front of the green.  Basically, the hole should be much better than what it is.

T Paul - The 4th gets all the glory at Woking, but I think the 3rd is a better hole and a better centreline bunker.  The only aspect I don't like about the hole (as Bill pointed out) is that it seems there should be a kick in from the right - naturally off the slope off the hill.  I reckon the slope was taken out to stop a kick in - mores the pity if this is the case.  

Bill - many of the bunkers have heather on the tops.  The heather re-generation is coming along nicely - as is the clearing of trees and undergrowth.  Woking is a much more playable course than 15 years ago.  Though I must say (and I am usually against lengthening) that the added yards will do the course wonders to make the bunkering work better.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Philip Gawith

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Re:Woking
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2007, 12:24:13 PM »
I see your point re 6...if the course was rerouted as you/NAF suggest, then 6 would be the start of the second nine which would be quite good teeing off from that imposing, elevated tee.

Tom_Doak

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Re:Woking
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2007, 01:04:32 PM »
According to the slow play thread, however, making the 15th and 16th (a short par 5 and a par 3) as the two starting holes would be a disaster!

Sean:  I was surprised that you say the 3rd hole does not have a good "kick in" from the right.  When I played there years ago, the ball came off the hill on the right like a jackrabbit on the run ... in fact, you had to play out to the left off the tee or the second shot would release so quickly that you had no idea where it might settle out.  The 8th hole at Pacific Dunes is based on that green, it's one of my favorite ideas I've ever stolen from somewhere else.

Lloyd_Cole

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Re:Woking
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2007, 01:18:10 PM »
it's one of my favorite ideas I've ever stolen from somewhere else.

Tom
I recently ran into an associate of William Burroughs' who said that he used to annotate the books he read marking certain passages 'GETS' - Good enough to steal...

Sean_A

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Re:Woking
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2007, 02:16:39 PM »
According to the slow play thread, however, making the 15th and 16th (a short par 5 and a par 3) as the two starting holes would be a disaster!

Sean:  I was surprised that you say the 3rd hole does not have a good "kick in" from the right.  When I played there years ago, the ball came off the hill on the right like a jackrabbit on the run ... in fact, you had to play out to the left off the tee or the second shot would release so quickly that you had no idea where it might settle out.  The 8th hole at Pacific Dunes is based on that green, it's one of my favorite ideas I've ever stolen from somewhere else.

Tom

There is an odd depression off the right of the green not far from the bunker which looks strange considering the steep drop from the hill on which the 2nd is.  I intentionally hit my shot out to the right thinking it would kick in around the bunker - no go.


Ciao
« Last Edit: December 15, 2009, 06:18:50 AM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Richard Pennell

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Re:Woking
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2007, 02:34:17 PM »

I was also surprised by how much movement the greens had.  For the most part nothing too crazy, but very interesting none the less.  

A closer look at #3.  I wonder if well placed balls will come off the that bank and kick toward the hole if the player swings his approach in from the right?



One of the things that struck me about Woking this time is how important it is to miss in the right place on certain holes, and how the contours of the greens and the variety of possible hole locations affect this. In your photo of the third, my ball is visible up near the tree behind the green, and the movement in that green towards the front is enough to imagine the recovery shot from my position would not stop on the green in firm conditions.

Of course, you could point out that no-one should hit it there in the first place ;)

"The rules committee of the Royal and Ancient are yesterday's men, Jeeves. They simply have to face up to the modern world" Bertie Wooster

Joel_Stewart

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Re:Woking
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2007, 03:14:20 PM »
What is that area on the 8th which appears to be not maintained?   Marsh?

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Woking
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2007, 03:30:04 PM »
Joel on the 8th there's a carry over mostly heather and a stream.   The ropes are there as a part of the scheme to revive the heather that patch just has more grass areas than some.


One interesting maintenance action we saw being carried out, was a large blower on the back of a tractor raising the leaves up and the wind carrying them from the heather to areas where they could be collected more easily.

I don't know if this is to aid finding balls or to prevent the leaves rotting down and enriching the soil (heather thrives in poor free draining soil) or both?  Quite time consuming due tothe scale of heather they have but I assume an essentila part of the the proper maintenace of heather if you want it to thrive.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2007, 03:30:49 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
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BCrosby

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Re:Woking
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2007, 04:39:53 PM »
Sean -

It's interesting you picked the 3rd as your favorite. You are in good company. Charles Ambrose also picked the 3rd in 1926. It was one of the holes he included in his ideal 18 inland holes.

Given all the attention given to the 4th over the years (starting with Low and Simpson, through and including Bobby Jones later), both Ambrose's and your choice surprised me.

But then I've never played Woking. I very much hope to someday. Thanks for the pics and the commentary.

Bob

Sean_A

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Re:Woking
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2007, 05:06:18 PM »
Sean -

It's interesting you picked the 3rd as your favorite. You are in good company. Charles Ambrose also picked the 3rd in 1926. It was one of the holes he included in his ideal 18 inland holes.

Given all the attention given to the 4th over the years (starting with Low and Simpson, through and including Bobby Jones later), both Ambrose's and your choice surprised me.

But then I've never played Woking. I very much hope to someday. Thanks for the pics and the commentary.

Bob

Bob

The 3rd exemplifies my ideal of good bunkering.  There is only one bunker and it influences play no matter where you drive the ball - centreline.  It just so happens in the pic above that the hole was cut directly behind the bunker which means the bunker is at its maximum impact.  This is also why I think its a mistake to not allow a bounce in from the natural slope on the right - trying to give the player the option of avoiding the bunker, but at the risk of missing the green.  The 3rd is truly a wonderful hole.  

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 30, 2007, 05:06:46 PM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Bill_McBride

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Re:Woking
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2007, 07:13:07 PM »
Sean, I was looking at your first two photos of #3, the one from the approach area and the next from a lot closer.   The photo from farther out does look like the general slope, particularly short of the green, will kick a shot up there toward the green (as Tom Doak mentions above with a reference to #8 at Pacific Dunes where that really works!), where the photo of the closer area looks like there is one shoulder that could keep some balls away from the green.

Maybe a runner that lands 20 yards short of the green will follow that macro slope where a higher lofted shot will hit the smaller slope and run away.  That could be very likely.  Very fun!

#8 at Pacific Dunes has no little counterslope, so a ball up there is going to eventually go left.  That's why it's fun to hit those shots up there and see where they wind up.

Gotta get back to Bandon.........and really want to spend some time around London playing.  As usual, too much golf and too little time........

BCrosby

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Re:Woking
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2007, 12:03:14 PM »
Sean -

Ambrose liked the 3rd for the same reasons you give. He called the bunker on the 3rd a "governing" bunker, meaning that it influenced very shot on the hole. Ambrose developed a list of other "governing" bunkers. Two were the Road Hole Bunker and Hell Bunker (though even in 1926 Hell was becoming obsolete as a factor on second shots). I will need to dig out of my notes the others Ambrose named.

A bunker that functioned as a "governing" bunker was for Ambrose the pinnacle of good design. It tended to be one of only a few hazards on a hole, but its placement was so well conceived that you had to deal with it from the tee and on every shot thereafter.

Ambrose was an interesting guy. He spent a lot of energy advocating the virtues of inland architecture as found on courses around London. He thought they were under-appreciated and often over-looked in favor of the famous links courses. I think he is still right about that.  

Bob
« Last Edit: December 31, 2007, 01:10:19 PM by BCrosby »

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Woking
« Reply #16 on: December 31, 2007, 12:51:52 PM »
Bob, can you please tell us a little about Ambrose and his writings? A quick Google tells me nothing.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Bill_McBride

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Re:Woking
« Reply #17 on: December 31, 2007, 12:56:31 PM »
Ambrose was an interesting guy. He spent a lot of energy advocating the virtues of inland architecture as found on courses around London. He thought they were under-appreciated and often over-looked in favor of the famous links courses. I think he is still right about that.  

Bob

Perhaps a field trip to London is in order???  ??? ;D

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Woking
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2007, 01:02:46 PM »
Come over soon and bring the happy bride. ;D
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

BCrosby

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Re:Woking
« Reply #19 on: December 31, 2007, 01:19:21 PM »
Ambrose was an interesting guy. He spent a lot of energy advocating the virtues of inland architecture as found on courses around London. He thought they were under-appreciated and often over-looked in favor of the famous links courses. I think he is still right about that.  

Bob

Perhaps a field trip to London is in order???  ??? ;D

Absolutely, but have you checked out the confiscatory exchange rates recently? I'm all for supporting the economy of Merry Olde England, but jeez.

I never thought I would say this but with current exchange rates, Pebble Beach is starting to look like a bargain.

Bob  

Bill_McBride

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Re:Woking
« Reply #20 on: December 31, 2007, 01:53:32 PM »
Ambrose was an interesting guy. He spent a lot of energy advocating the virtues of inland architecture as found on courses around London. He thought they were under-appreciated and often over-looked in favor of the famous links courses. I think he is still right about that.  

Bob

Perhaps a field trip to London is in order???  ??? ;D

Absolutely, but have you checked out the confiscatory exchange rates recently? I'm all for supporting the economy of Merry Olde England, but jeez.

I never thought I would say this but with current exchange rates, Pebble Beach is starting to look like a bargain.

Bob  

I'm not sure why, but the pound is actually down 5% the past few weeks - it was up to $2.09  :o  but today is $1.98.  Go figure, it's still a lot worse than my first trip over when it was $1.49.

TEPaul

Re:Woking
« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2008, 11:06:05 AM »
BobC:

To your knowledge what-all newspapers or other publications did Charles Ambrose write for and for how long? I realize he was an occassional contributor to London's FIELD.

It also might be a good idea to get that series of about 6-8 articles on bunkering on here that we found in The FIELD from the 1920s. That was some remarkably clear-headed and sophisticated stuff philosophically and otherwise.

That series kind of made me think of that old saw---"The more things change the more they remain the same."
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 11:11:10 AM by TEPaul »

BCrosby

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Re:Woking
« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2008, 12:12:01 PM »
Tom/Tony -

I don't have a definitive list of where Ambrose published, but it includes the British Golf Illustrated and Field. He was editor of the British Golf Illustrated for a time, but I am not sure of the beginning and ending dates. He was an active contributor to Field during the mid-20's (which would have been a bit odd if he were editor of Golf Illustrated at the same time).

Ambrose was very well connected. He regularly consulted Colt, Abercromby, Croome, Simpson, Fowler, MacK and others for his articles. As you know, he and Crane were writing articles for Field on gca more or less concurrently. Ambrose was pretty cheesed off about Crane's approach to gca, to the point that it inspired him to write a series of articles on ideal inland holes based on suggestions given to him by Colt et al.

Ambrose was an interesting guy. He was not as good a writer as Darwin (who was?) but I think his analysis of gca was more perceptive. I always get the feeling with Darwin that gca topics were for him a hot potato burning his fingers. He doesn't seem to want to linger on the topic and couldn't wait to move on to something less controversial. Ambrose dove in, swam around in it and made waves.

Ambrose, Crane and Darwin are reminders that the lay analysis of gca - at least as we find it in mass circulation golf mags - can be so much better than it is currently. The Whittens and others in GD or Golf pale in comparison, at a number of levels. And lay analysis is important. For all the drawbacks of a non-professional critic, they do have the inestimable advantage of not having a stake in the game. That advantage is not being exploited in mass market publications the way it once was.

Bob  

Ally Mcintosh

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Re:Woking
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2008, 06:00:31 AM »
I loved Woking when I played it in September. They have undertaken a hefty program of shrub clearing from under the trees and reinstatement of the heather, especially around the bunkers. Neither of these projects is yet complete. Those bunkers to the right of 6 are still a work in progress.

I don't agree with the rerouting that Sean suggests although 14 is definitely the natural round closer. Tom suggesting that slow play would become an issue starting with a short par-5 and par-3 can't hold any sway though as the current routing starts with a driveable par-4 followed by a par-3... Anyway, the club holds a 2-ball only policy specifically to avoid slow play.

As for the bunker on 3, when I played there, that bunker had rough cut to the right of it where it seemed blindingly obvious that it should have been cut as fairway thus creating a natural kick-in off the bank.

I also don't agree with Sean that the front-9 is considerably better than the back. If I had to choose one or other, I'd go for the back because for me it provides the more interesting approach shots and green complexes. There are some really original wild undulations on 12, 13, 15 and 18 greens and I particularly liked the approaches to 11, 12, 13, 14 and 17.

Sean, I wonder if you would be in agreement with me that they could fill in all 3 greenside bunkers on 12 (making the entire hole bunkerless) and the hole would perhaps be even better than it is now? - a great natural green site.

Anyway, those are my quick thoughts. I adored Woking. It is a course I think of often.

Philip Spogard

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Re:Woking
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2008, 06:42:01 AM »
I am actually a member of Woking and have just recently completed a dissertation on the renovation work carried out on a number of heathland courses - including Woking.

The changes which are currently taking place involving the bunkers is a 5 year program which will renovate all bunkers. The old bunkerstyle (which is still obvious on most holes) will be replaced by a more 'Queenwood-inspired' style.

The shrub and tree clearing is a part of a heathland restoration project (similiar to what is happening at Sunningdale New and The Berkshire). Though producing a slightly better environment for the heather it is miles from what has successfully transformed Walton Heath and Hankley Common into more 'old-fashioned' heathland courses with less trees.

Regarding the 3rd hole bunker I agree that it is in my top-3 of best positioned bunkers in the world! I think this is primarily due to the fact that the green is tiny (!) with a severe slope off the green on the front left side. You are almost forced to carry the bunker to stay on the green.

It is not accurate that you can always bounce in from the right - even though it seems like it (and often ends up like that). I think the reason why it seems like this is because every shot landing on the green will be affected by the significant right to left diagonal step running through the green. This means in order to really hold the green you have to aim straight on the right side of the bunker to catch the step and end up in the middle of the tiny green (from where you always have a relatively short putt).

The old routing is in the clubhouse and shows that holes 1-7 are still in original positions.

The club has a 2 ball (and/or foursome) policy and only 300 members so there are rarely any problems with crowding.

The 12th green was not designed like that by Low and Paton - the infamous back left part was added by the club committee.

I will end this post with a quote from Darwin describing th changes to Woking made in the early 1900s by Paton and Low – transforming it from an unsophisticated Dunn layout to a world class heathland course. As Darwin poetically describes the changes; “Unconscious of their doom, the members disperse for their summer holidays and when they return they find that the most revolutionary things have been done. Upon greens that were formerly flat and easy have sprouted plateaus and domes and hollows. Hillocks have risen as if by magic in the middle of the fairway … bunkers have been dug at that precise spot where members have for years complacently watched their ball come to rest at the end of their finest shots … All these things happen at the instigation of a very small secret Junta, and after a little grumbling, such as is only right and proper, the members settle down and admit that the alterations are exceedingly ingenious and the course more entertaining than ever.’

I think only Darwin could put it like that - a shame no one writes like that any more!

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