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Sean_A

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BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference! New
« on: June 13, 2008, 06:39:31 PM »


As evidenced by the professional's shop and scorecard, simplicity is the watchword of the club.  There is also a simple display of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen photos in the house. Blackwell is one of the few non-championship/championship qualifier rounds Jones played in England.  A promise Jones made to Dr Bill Tweddell at the 1928 Walker Cup (they were opposing Captains) held at Chicago GC was kept the day after Jones won the 1930 Open at Hoylake.  Despite finishing with mediocre scores of 74 and 75 on the final day, Jones hung on to win the Claret Jug.  The game at Blackwell was surely a walk in the park! 


The village of Blackwell in north-eastern Worcestershire is maybe 10 miles from the centre of Birmingham.  On the edge of the village, in glorious farm country, Blackwell GC has a very modest number of members making the course readily available on most days.  The course too is unusual in that it was designed by the team of Fowler and Simpson; a rarity in golf architecture.  Fowler has enough famous designs in England to be a fairly well known in golf circles.  Simpson on the other hand has very little remaining work in the British Isles and remains a figure shrouded in a bit of mystery.   For certain Simpson was a controversial architect who enjoyed creating mischievous designs.  For instance, according to Bernard Darwin, golfers in their ignorance did not like being teased by his ďdiabolical anticsĒ and accordingly Simpsonís revisionary work at Sunningdale New was returned back to Coltís plans by John Morrison.  What we do know about Simpson can be gleaned from the many texts he authored, co-authored or contributed towards; perhaps the most famous being The Architectural Side of Golf co-authored with R Wethered.  His views on golf most definitely leaned toward strategic, thinking manís golf, but with flare.  Simpsonís basic tenet was ďThe vital thing about a hole is that it should either be more difficult than it looks or look more difficult than it is.  It must never be what it looks.Ē

Certainly, Blackwell isnít what it looks as the course features deception and/or risky options throughout. Some of the above is due to bunkering, some to water hazards, some to green shapes and some to excellent use of perfectly rolling terrain.  Looking at sketches Simpson prepared it is clear the architects intended to make a bold a statement at Blackwell.  The bunkering schemes blended with the mounding rolling around the greens were to cause perceptual doubt and be stunning in appearance.  Under the guidance of Infinite Variety, the club embarked on 10 year plan to renovate the bunkers and remove trees.  An example is the bunkering on #10.  While unquestionably deceptive, the original sketches demonstrate an elegance in the bunkering which the renovation has tried to recapture.  The 11th, somehow comes nowhere near what the sketch represents and the result is one of the most bland holes on the course. 


The 16th comes closer to the Simpson ideal, but none of the mounding which ties the bunkering together is present.


In any case, the reader has an idea of what Fowler and Simpson envisioned for Blackwell and quite remarkable the concept was.   It is often the case that when clubs put their course under the knife for  renovation that the urge to add yards here and there is too strong to resist.  Kudos to Blackwell because there doesn't appear to be any such notion.  Anyone who has played the course will know there is plenty of challenge  as the SSS is one stroke higher than the par of 70. 

Blackwell is one of the older clubs in Worcestershire being founded in 1893.  The original 9 hole course was altered by Colt in 1912; soon after the club purchased 102 acres and wanted to expand to 18 holes.  Designs were submitted by Colt and Fowler/Simpson and Fowler & Simpson won the commission perhaps because they envisioned a completely new design whereas Colt may have wanted to add nine holes to his current work. The nines were switched in the mid 30s.  I am not sure why, but perhaps the club wanted to finish on a par 4 rather than a par 3.  We shall also never know for sure how much of Blackwell is Simpson and how much is Fowler, not that it matters a great deal. 






The first hole, while far from easy, is a mild opener playing blind over a hill.  There is a sneaky bunker up the right which is reachable.  Fowler and Simpson were hold outs to some degree as neither were adverse to blind features when the prevailing thinking was very much in the opposite direction.  Although, Simpson disapproved of blind approaches. The second is a tough, uphill mid-length par three with the green sloping toward the front right.  Evidence of a new bunkering style is on the left. I am not completely sold as I prefer the grassed-over style of the bunkers on the right (if renovated), but this is a minor issue.


Since 2014 the club has been fairly aggressive in pushing out the grassing lines and to great effect.  However, there are still areas where heavy rough is in play when a first cut or fairway would be more appropriate. Trees too are an issue the club has been tackling, but some sightlines to bunkers are still blocked by trees.  This is the case on the very demanding 3rd, a brutal par 4 turning right and swinging steeply uphill.  The green-side bunkering creates a double dogleg effect which originally would have made the right fairway bunkers more meaningful with tree clearance.  Below is a look at the two-tier green.


The first par 5 follows the property line down the left and is quite reachable in two if the golfer is willing to first take on the right fairway bunker and second, the clutch of bunkers short of the green.  The fairway has been significantly widened to the right, but some outlier trees were oddly allowed to remain.  Below is a look at the cross bunkers. 


#5 turns right and continues along the property line.  A well placed but visually rather amateurish centre-line bunker is featured for the drive. The green is quite interesting as it rises to a second tier that is mounded and then slopes away from play. 




The 6th is perhaps the best of a terrific set of short holes. 


An up n' over short blind par 4 follows, however, a bunker is placed exactly on the line one needs to take if driving the green is the goal.


The next, a three-shotter curling left around a road and over a ditch is reachable in two, but the risks are very high. This hole is a good example of the tree issue.  The hole parallels #3 and some good views would be available by cutting trees down the right.  However, further up the fairway trees were cleared to offer a good view of the house across the pond.  Below is the ditch which then (blind from the tee) runs across the fairway and up the right flank.  Just for good measure there is OOB left. 


The side finishes with another good par 3 and once again water is involved.  Unusually, Blackwell features six holes with water, four of which sees the water play a signifcant role.  The horrible bushes/vegetation to the right of the green were removed to open a view to the third tee. Indeed, when Blackwell opened the entire hill between the 3rd tee and 1st fairway was void of trees; making for much better views from the house.  There also used to be a back right bunker to protect against the overly cautious tee shot. 


The back nine is seen by some as the better side and we get a sense of why immediately.  The 10th bends strongly left against the terrain and the fairway bunkers look a doddle to carry, but in fact I reckon its about 250 yards.  Originally, only the two lovely oaks stood on the right of the fairway making it much easier to bail right and be left with an awfully difficult second.  The green beyond the fairway bunkers.




The 11th is a long, difficult par 3 heading in the same direction as the 10th.  The removal of branches etc on the left has now made it possible to play a slight fade off the tee.  The presence of the city is evident as the railway line is a few yards away on the left.  The final par 5 features the once incredibly long and sinewy bunker down the right.  Originally the bunker was over 300 yards long, cutting across the fairway about 75 yards short of the green and continuing up the left to green high.  I don't think this bunker was the work of Fowler/Simpson.  I suspect the current line of the bunker used to be a drainage ditch.  The bunker has been broken into four or five sections, perhaps to create bridges for trolleys to cross the sand.  #13 is an excellent mid-length par 3 which utilizes water very well.  Is there another classic era parkland course in Britain which features so much water?  Two years after playing Blackwell Bobby Jones got stuck into ANGC and the famous short 12th hole. There is more than a passing resemblance...


Despite the poor quality, this old photo reveals the accuracy of the restored 13th. The back left bunker is not reflective of Simpson's plan.


It was a stroke of genius to remove a tree or two to the rear of the green and fully open up the trouble when long.


The fine golf continues with #14.  This is the third par 4 over 400 yards and like #3, plays longer because of the uphill approach.  Swinging to the left, a bunker squeezes the inside of the leg and a mature tree near the ditch protects the outside of the leg.  This hole is perhaps a bit too tight given the demanding second.  However, a house and a lane out of picture left do need tree protection.  It would seem the club is reluctant to cut down tree(s) on the right, but with necessary encroachment on the left it seems like either the tree should go or the fairway bunker removed.


In this photo looking back we can see the trees between 14 & 15 and how except for a few examples, add nothing to the course in terms of aesthetics or playability.


Turning back on ourselves, we once again drive downhill over a ditch then approach to a green perched on a shelf - yet another fine hole.




Thinking the back of the course is now broken, we now face a hole that instead breaks the back of the golfer; 458 yards with blind fairway bunkering (left and right!), cross bunkers and greenside bunkers plus a dash of dead ground.  It is hard to believe Simpson advocated the right/left bunkering over the brow of the hill.


#17 is a short, but deadly par 4.  There seems to be plenty of room off the tee, but in fact the fairway turns so sharply that a lay-up is prudent. This leaves an uphill assault on a fortress like green.  Another superb hole on this very good back nine. 


The final hole brings the golfer home in style.  This moderate length two-shotter plays blind and downhill for the drive then turns left for home. The green rests on the corner of the house and any approach promises to gain the attention of loafers.  I have never quite seen a set-up such as at Blackwell.  The 9th green is just below the house to the left (out of picture), the first tee is directly outside the front door, the practice green is  wrapped around the house just outside the spike bar and the 10th tee just beyond.  An added touch of class is the house blocks the view of the car park which is a mere 25 yards behind the 10th tee!  There is no question this arrangement is attractive and supremely functional.  It is a wonder that archies these days don't deem it necessary to integrate the house with the course.


There is a ton to like about Blackwell, especially the back nine.  It is heartening to see the club taking strides to right the wrongs of tree encroachment and restrictive grass lines, however, there is a long way to go.  The course is set in lovely countryside and many interior views could be recreated.  There can be no doubt as to the merit of the design as holes the quality of 3, 6, 10, 13, 14, 15, 17 and 18 is a significant achievement.  Additionally, the course has been deemed good enough to host Open Regional Qualifying for several years so it is clear there is a least a decent test of golf at hand - which is all the more remarkable because this par 70, 6260 yard layout required a mere 102 acres.  I will certainly return to check up on the progress!  2017

Ciao   
« Last Edit: April 20, 2022, 08:57:48 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

Marty Bonnar

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2008, 07:09:29 PM »
Kee-Rice-t Sean,
that is one sexy golf course. She really lies around that landscape like the slovenliest harlot I have ever seen. If I was married to Cypress Point I'd leave her and run away with this wench!

Some of that bunkering is the most stimulating point/counter-point. I know of nothing else similar. THAT is PROPER creativity. I haven't enjoyed a picture based post so much - EVER. THANKYOU!

I am now properly energised for BUDA. Look out, colonial weaklings!

FBD.

PS Principal Dodd is safely ensconsed in the Guest Wing and knows nothing of this Post (luckily!). He killed Monifeith and Panmure in the company of one Mr Kilfara today but has succumbed to the influence of too much Glenlivet and Macallan this evening....my evil plan comes to delicious fruition before my very eyes...Bwaaaahhhhaaaaahhh!!! Look out, US of A!!!!
Assembled in Michigan from foreign parts.

Mike Hendren

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2008, 08:22:59 PM »
I'll fight you for her Marty.  Great post and pic, Sean. 
Two Corinthians walk into a bar ....

Bill Shamleffer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2008, 09:40:50 PM »
Just when I get tired of some idiotic tirades with little to nothing to do with golf, and I begin to wonder I bother to visit this site, once again Sean you come through with another great hidden gem and some fantistic photos.

Thank you for once again making this site worth the time to visit.
ďThe race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.Ē  Damon Runyon

David_Tepper

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2008, 09:53:49 PM »
Sean -

Thanks for the pics. Yet another English 'hidden gem' that I had never heard of, but would love to play.

For what it is worth, my 11th edition (published 1994) of The Sunday Telegraph Golf Course Guide To Britain & Ireland listed the course as 'designed by H. Fowler & T. Simpson.'

DT

Thomas MacWood

Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 12:17:22 PM »
Sean
Thanks for the report. The course looks to be very well preserved. Also I love the size and the look of the clubhouse, and they way it is integrated into the golf course and site.

Jon Spaulding

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2008, 12:33:28 PM »
Fantastic; another great photo review by the master. The subtlety of the hazards and the gouge bunker are impressive.
You'd make a fine little helper. What's your name?

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +0/-1
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2008, 03:23:23 PM »
Sean:

Thanks for the review.  I have a good friend who is a member of Palmetto, Piping Rock and Blackwell, and I'd never understood why of all the clubs in the UK he chose that one.  He said it was mostly the people, but I knew there had to be an interesting course involved, too ... it's just one that nobody ever talks about.

Just the picture of the clubhouse, 1st tee and 18th green shows they have their priorities in order.  I wish somebody in America knew how to build a clubhouse like that!

Brian_Ewen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2008, 04:04:53 PM »
Just when I get tired of some idiotic tirades with little to nothing to do with golf, and I begin to wonder I bother to visit this site, once again Sean you come through with another great hidden gem and some fantistic photos.

Thank you for once again making this site worth the time to visit.

Hear Hear , me too .

Thanks for posting Sean .

SPDB

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2008, 05:00:31 PM »
That snake bunker on the 12th looks awfully familiar and I can recall seeing it elsewhere (Spa? Chantilly?), which would add evidence to the Simpson camp.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL New
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2008, 05:29:06 PM »
Little Aston often gets the tip by the press etc, but for many of those in golfing circles, Blackwell is THE club in the Brum area.  Blackwell is also unusual in that with so few members the course is often empty any day of the week, yet the visitor fee is set high enough to keep folks away.  Obviously, members like the course empty and don't mind paying for the priveledge - which isn't all that much especially based on American standards.   

The clubhouse is nice, but understated.  There isn't much fancy dan business inside and from my experience, the spike bar (the windows near the putting green) is the most popular room.  Its all very low key with the course being the only real reason to be hangin around the club. 

Jon - pix of the snake bunker have been posted before - maybe you are thinking of the one and same bunker!  I certainly think Simpson had something to do with the bunkering and probably the greens.  However, the routing seems like it could easily have been done by Fowler.  So far as I know, Fowler is the only guy who makes courses so individual and I guess he was able to this because he truly believed in the mantra of the land dictating the style of the course.

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 28, 2022, 11:56:28 PM 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

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2008, 05:39:01 PM »
This is why we return to this site - bloody marvellous.

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2008, 05:58:41 PM »
I enjoyed this photos and commentary a lot.   The course looks like a place where you get to exercise your brain. 

The proximity of the clubhouse to first tee and 18th green is really cool.  Looks like a great place to be a member. 

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2008, 06:07:01 PM »

 Its gets very frustrating not to be able to read greens.     



Jon - pix of the snake bunker have been posted before - maybe you are thinking of the one and same bunker!

 I certainly think Simpson had something to do with ...(edit)...and probably the greens.

I think you answered your own conundrum. Mainly on the evidence of Walton Heath I think Simpson was the man who did the more devilish and interesting greens.

Very cool report Sean although Iím still not really sure why you donít absolutely love the place? Until now this course had passed under my radar, but now I will seek it out, looks fascinating.

Jon thereís also been pictures of a similar(ish) bunker at Sutton Coldfied which canít be that far away.
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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL New
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2008, 06:44:04 PM »

 Its gets very frustrating not to be able to read greens.     



Jon - pix of the snake bunker have been posted before - maybe you are thinking of the one and same bunker!

 I certainly think Simpson had something to do with ...(edit)...and probably the greens.

I think you answered your own conundrum. Mainly on the evidence of Walton Heath I think Simpson was the man who did the more devilish and interesting greens.

Very cool report Sean although Iím still not really sure why you donít absolutely love the place? Until now this course had passed under my radar, but now I will seek it out, looks fascinating.

Jon thereís also been pictures of a similar(ish) bunker at Sutton Coldfied which canít be that far away.


Tony

I can't put my finger on what bothers me about Blackwell.  The only things I come up with is how they have let trees ruin interior views and weird rough patches which come way outside the tree line ala Merion style. 

I don't know enough about Simpson's greens to make a judgement.  I have only seen a few of his courses and its seems very tough to know what exactly he did.  In any case, I don't think Simpson did Blackwell alone.  There are touches of Fowler's style throughout the course and believe me, Fowler could build a green or two.  Make yer way to Beau Desert.

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 04:31:24 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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour New
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2012, 11:05:39 AM »
See the updated photo tour.  I am much more impressed now than in previous years. 

Previous stops on the 2011-12 Winter Tour:

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,42178.0.html  Stratford

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,51420.0.html  Saunton West

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

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,51321.0.html  Sutton Coldfield

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,32228.0.html  Huntercombe 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,35648.0.html  Whittington Heath

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,40029.0.html  Edgbaston

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50805.0.html  Sherwood Forest

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,32655.0.html  Woking

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50427.0.html  Berkhamsted

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,46538.0.html  Coxmoor

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,37725.0.html  Temple

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,38973.0.html  Little Aston

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30965.0.html  Beau Desert

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,33988.0.html  Notts

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50088.0.html  The Old Course

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50086.0.html  The New Course

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50078.0.html  The Castle Course

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30926.0.html  Kington

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,37526.0.html   Harborne

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49998.0.html   Worcester G&CC

No future scheduled stops.


Ciao
« Last Edit: June 28, 2022, 11:59:28 PM 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

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2012, 03:58:19 AM »
Very cool report.  All I can add is you have to see Liphook, many of the ideas e.g fall away greens and general disguise do seem to be from the same mind.

There's an "i" missing from the first bracket above.



The 16th comes closer, but none of the mounding which ties the bunkering together is present. In any case, the reader has an idea of what Fowler and Simpson envisioned for Blackwell and quite remarkable the concept was.   




on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Michael Wharton-Palmer

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2012, 12:24:14 PM »
I have very fond memories of Balckwell, I won the Midland Boys title there way back in 1979 I think it was...lovely golf course..but wow how cool it would be with those original concept bunkers!!!
I remember they always had the best greens in the Midlands, the fastest by far.
That was always one of the great appeals to play there.
Thanks again Sean
mwp

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2012, 04:52:21 PM »
Spangles

Yes, I would like to see Liphook one day.  I may have to break down for a PM game as they only accept the county card then.  Are you interested in having another go?

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

James Boon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2012, 05:05:18 PM »
Sean,

Cheers for the tour, Blackwell looks a delight! Great pics of the Simpson sketches and the setting of the clubhouse looks great. I'll certainly be utilising the reciprocal we have there this year I hope?

Do you know any more of the origin of the really long bunker on the 12th? was it an old dry ditch, or track or something?

Cheers,

James
2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #20 on: March 29, 2012, 01:44:43 AM »
Sean,

Cheers for the tour, Blackwell looks a delight! Great pics of the Simpson sketches and the setting of the clubhouse looks great. I'll certainly be utilising the reciprocal we have there this year I hope?

Do you know any more of the origin of the really long bunker on the 12th? was it an old dry ditch, or track or something?

Cheers,

James

Boony

I don't know why that bunker was built the way it was.  I spose in the old days there were less trees so the bunker would have had more impact.  Today it just makes the hole play fairly narrow.

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

James Boon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #21 on: March 29, 2012, 03:32:52 PM »
Sean,

I just checked out Google Earth's 1945 pics and there is something there where that long bunker is. I guess its probably a buner back then but its not the clearest picture so it could be a track or a ditch?

Certainly looks to make the hole narrow. But the bunker itself is pretty narrow along its length also.

Cheers,

James
2022 Highlights: Hollinwell (Notts), Brora, Reay

"It celebrates the unadulterated pleasure of being in a dialogue with nature while knocking a ball round on foot." Richard Pennell

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: 2011/12 Winter Tour
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2012, 07:02:49 AM »
Sean,

I just checked out Google Earth's 1945 pics and there is something there where that long bunker is. I guess its probably a buner back then but its not the clearest picture so it could be a track or a ditch?

Certainly looks to make the hole narrow. But the bunker itself is pretty narrow along its length also.

Cheers,

James

Boony

Yes, I am convinced the long bunker is not original to F&S.  I think it was an old ditch that was filled with sand.  It certainly looks like a ditch up close.

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

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2012, 07:32:05 PM »
All

Please see updated pix.

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

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2012, 06:03:56 AM »
Seanís description is perceptive, his photos adequately showing the nuances of the holes. I give you a few more photos simply to expand on Seanís commentary. Unfortunately mine are testament to our dreadful summer and very dark.

I was not disappointed with the course, but I was disappointed with its condition. The greens had been given severe treatment of a tining nature. They were horribly slow, spongy, bumpy and something of a lottery. Trees had been allowed to constrict some holes in a silly manner Ė maybe some photos will illustrate this. There was also a strange policy about the first cut of rough. Sean described it as Merionesque, and I agree. It was a couple of inches long and very grabbing. But what made it really ridiculous was that this stuff surrounded every green in a way which meant that if you came out of a bunker there were several feet of this stuff between the top of the bunker and the putting surface. Sean made the point that Blackwell might have the least fairway of any course in response to Mike Nuzzoís post about a course with the most fairway.

Blackwell is an aristocratic club in ethos. But I find the current set up/maintenance meld completely at odds with such a club, which I would mention in the same breath as Rye, Aldeburgh, New Zealand and Swinley Forest in its attitude to life.  You only have to enter the clubhouse to realise you are in a time warp. If only the course were.

1.   413 yards par 4



The view from the first tee is of two bunkers guarding the crest of a hill over which you drive. The bunkers are about 170 from the tee. The farther bunker to which Sean refers is 282 from the tee, far beyond my reach.



I do not suppose this green-front bunker looked like this in Fowlerís day.

2.   178 yards par 3



Being uphill this hole plays much longer than its indicated yardage. There is quite a narrow entrance between a wide bunker front right and another on the left.

3.   448 yards par 4


The somewhat claustrophobic view from the tee, the trees on the right presumably planted to protect players from errant shots on the 8th hole. As you can see those trees also negate the impact of two bunkers short and right of the fairway. You can also just pick out the stream which crosses the fairway on the diagonal, 216 yards from the back tee on the right and 288 yards on the left.



After bending right, the fairway then climbs and moves slightly to the left, creating a double dog-leg. Again, the trees on the left are very close to the line of play. It is a very demanding hole.



A look back down the fairway. The putting surface is only 23 yards long, somewhat ungenerous for receiving a long approach shot.

4.   490 yards par 5



I cannot reach the right hand bunker 297 yards away from the back tee, but why has that young tree been planted in the rough on the direct line to the bunker? The trees on the left are tight up against the mown fairway.




The fairway bears right past the bunker, climbing gently towards the green.




Progress to the green is impeded by a semi-circle of bunkers 30-odd yards in front of the putting surface

5.   351 yards par 4




A downhill drive must be made over the bunker at 238 yards from the back tee. There is little room on the left where out-of-bounds runs the length of the hole.



The approach is played over a stream and slightly uphill to a long green 39 yards long and sloping significantly from back to front. The greens were so slow that it was well nigh impossible to putt from the back to a green position at the front!

6.   160 yards par 3



A good downhill short hole with extravagant mound work in front of the green partially concealing some of the four bunkers to either side of a long (38 yards), narrow and wickedly contoured green.

7.   288 yards par 4



Rated Stroke 18 this ought to be the easiest hole on the course. The drive is made uphill past a marker post.




From wherever the drive has finished the approach shot to the little green is tricky, quite sharply downhill with out-of-bounds just through the back of the putting surface and a diabolically placed bunker on the right front of the green on the line most approaches will be made.

8.   486 yards par 5




For the first time visitor the drive is somewhat intimidating with trees close in on both sides and a ditch crossing the fairway on the corner with out-of-bounds left. Two drive bunkers on the right are almost wholly obscured by the trees.

The ditch re-crosses the fairway just past this dangerous corner where those attempting heroic long drives may easily perish.



The approach to the green is fairly straightforward.

9.   203 yards par 3




The yellow, visitorsí tee is set at a more manageable 157 yards, but as the green is entirely surrounded by the Merionesque grasping semi-rough chipping is far from predictable.

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