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Sean_A

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NEW ZEALAND GC: A Master Class in Bunkering New
« on: September 14, 2008, 07:19:15 PM »





Despite the many elements which combine to make the course better than its sum parts, it is the bunkering which is New Zealand’s standout feature. It has long been my belief that Walton Heath’s bunkers are the best in the heathlands. According to Patric Dickinson “They are curiously, aggressively, artificial looking.”  While not nearly as austere as Walton’s Heath’s pits, one could say that New Zealand’s are alarmingly charming, but just as effective and thus the equal of Fowler’s maiden design.  Because both courses are fairly flat the bunkers take on a more prominent strategic role and may explain why the architects seemed to take great care in creating thoughtful hazards which in the best of traditions guard rather than frame greens. There is a fair amount of wonderful architecture that is more often than not dismissed as “flat” and therefore uninteresting. This sort of attitude will lead golfers to miss out on one of the true gems of London.

Much of New Zealand is the product of Mure Fergusson’s 1895 design which was unique for its day in that it was carved out of a forest. Fergusson continued to make refinements over the following 30 years as secretary of the club.  Not long after his death Tom Simpson was called in to make significant changes.  Being a former partner of Herbert Fowler and a member of Woking gave Simpson first hand knowledge of good design principles.  Among the alterations were the addition of the great green complexes for #s 17 & 18, the short 3rd hole and a grand bunkering scheme for the entire course.  Consequently its fair to state that New Zealand is the product of both these gentlemen.

The 1st, a tough opener that uses the angles well in shaping the strategy of the hole.  Right from the get go the golfer can see the relationship between the turn of the fairway and the placement of the bunker just shy of the green.  This is a theme throughout the round.


Although New Zealand is relatively short on yardage, it starts out in stout fashion.  The second is another two-shotter which is often into the prevailing wind.  The drive progressively narrows for the player looking to hit a long ball. The centre-line bunker completely dictates the strategy of the hole. The bunker is deceptively large, but there is room for the golfer to bounce shots onto the green should conditions call for it.  This sort of design is Simpson at his best and a re-occurring theme.  The bunker guarding the right side of the green exemplifies the difference in quality and placement between the two bunkers.  Fortunately, New Zealand doesn't have too many of this slap dash sort.


The short 3rd is trickier than looks suggest, but we move to the excellent 4th, this hole probably has the most elevation change of any hole on the course.  The slope of the fairway leading toward the bunker is visually intimidating, but only the longest hitters can reach the sand from the tee. 


Another great bunker!  Notice how the flag is only half visible.  The green runs away from the player, but there is all the room in the world to bounce one in.  That doesn't however, make judging this approach any easier. 


The second one-shotter in five holes, the 5th takes us back to the house.  I like the idea of a short loop and a long loop rather than equal halves.  The club is a great example of understated elegance; very old fashioned without being stuffy.


The 6th is one of the half dozen or so par 4s that can play very long especially into the prevailing wind. The hole used to feature one of the several camouflaged  bunkers to be found at New Zealand in the right heather.  The bunker is now more visible from the tee, but still menacing. 


The area short of the green is scooped out and shoves shots intended to bounce in to the right...which means we must challenge the right fairway bunker off the tee to have options for the approach.


A great par 3 among a fine set of short holes, the 7th is a good example of what can be achieved on flat land.  The left and right bunkers create all the interest necessary.  The right bunker has the added appeal of acting as a greenside bunker for #13.  There must be 30 yards or a shade more from the left bunker to the flag.  The flag to the right is #13.




The right greenside bunker with #13 in the background.


The following four holes are all solid, but the high points are the bunkers.  The blind 8th is the one hole in this bunch which doesn't fill my ticket.  The goal of the ninth hole is to carry the right side bunkers and thus gain the optimum angle of approach or one can scoot a ball past them.

The 10th is a rather awkward length hole of 120 yards to very good raised green.  As on the 16th, the heather works particularly well as dead ground.


Simpson was very creative in the angling of his bunkers.  Many are on a diagonal line jutting across the line of play.  This feature makes it difficult to ascertain just where the landing zone is for the aggressive play.  Notice how far short this bunker is of the 11th green. There is plenty of room to challenge the bunker and stay right to take advantage of the right to left slope, but the bunker angle obscures the view.


The three isolated holes on the far side of Martyr's Lane are not of the same cailbre as those across the road at Worplesdon.  However, once we return to the main section of the property the stretch of holes leading back to the house are what make New Zealand better than the run of the mill good course.  Features such as the slight drop on the front right of the green are generally not as obvious on the first 11 holes.  Below is a side-look at the bunker/hollow complex to the right of the 12th green.


Thirteen has a very clever pair of centre-line bunkers, one of which is hidden behind the other making the carry up the hill longer than it looks. As on the previous hole (but more pronounced), there is a wee swale protecting the front right of the green.  This short par 4 is exceedingly well conceived.
[img width=800https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4569/37743084364_e24120f8ce_b.jpghttp://http://http://New Zealand's sole par 5, the 14th is reachable, but not without risk.


A hidden Cat Woman eyes bunker protects the right side of the fairway.  Just over this bunker is fairway, perhaps this is an idea which could be used on other holes to increase the importance of tempting players to challenge the bunkers.


In a bit of a twist (similar to Littlestone's 16th), it is better to be on the outside of the dogleg as this bunker guards the approach from the right.  The green slopes to the back, which is the best place to miss as all the trouble is near the front of the green.


The 15th sees the fairway bisected by bunkers on either side of the fairway.  Little Lizzy isn't camera shy!


Yet another centre-line bunker.  Pay close attention...


...it is another that is much larger than it looks from a distance.  The orientation of this bunker is unusual as well.  Notice the bold contouring with the wing on the back left of the green.  Its well designed to make the guy avoiding the front right bunker have to risk a 3 putt, but still offer a bailout shot from the right.


#16, the final par 3, is approximately a 180 yard carry over the heather.  The photo accurately depicts the obscured view of the green one has from the tee.  Once again, clever bunkers partially conceal the target and distract the golfer from the goal. 


A closer look.


The renovated right hand bunker...


...and a look at the severity of New Zealand's heather.


A sharp legger left, the 17th is an awkward hole which works around an adjacent property.  The landing zone for this forced layup is a bit tight and a few trees could stand to come out.  In fact, other than the fairways being a bit tight given the harsh penalty of playing from heather, the only other concern I have is the number of trees and undergrowth. Many hundreds could come out without anyone noticing, but it must be noted that due care is necessary to maintain a proper sound block.  New Zealand has a very secluded feel yet the M25 is only a few miles away. 

A Simpson sketch of the 17th circa 1931.


The photos don't accurately depict the unforeseen kick to the left many golfers experience at the green.  An alley falling away from the green leads these astray approaches directly to the rear left bunker.  This sort of design reminds the author of some links bunkers such as at Carnoustie. Many play much larger than their actual size because of their gathering nature.  Below is a view of the green from well beyond the approach area. 


This view of the green complex shows off the movement of the land and the deceptively large right green-side bunker. 


The home hole doesn't disappoint.  Like the twelfth, this is another tee shot free of sand. As an example of the tree problem, trees down the left block the view of Simpson's handiwork from the tee and a few could be removed without compromising the dog-leg strategy of the hole. In fact, a view of the flag could act as an enticement to play unwisely, a design strategy which I have long admired. Below is New Zealand's response to the Valley of Sin. 


The clubhouse has bags of charm and the course is demandingly honest, but some readers may be curious about the vital statistics; a par of 68 and a breath under 6000 yards. These numbers will strike many as a bit on the light side, however, don’t be deceived.  The story of New Zealand is discovered in its playing and there are three All England candidates; #s 6, 7 & 16.  There is a premium placed on hitting fairways and with six holes which can take some reaching this aspect of the game is greatly rewarded in keen conditions. Additionally, there are two long par 3s, consequently, New Zealand offers plenty of challenge with medium to long irons and wood play. This sort of configuration is a wonderful example of how to combat flat bellies yet offer respite for the less gifted players. 

Despite not being blessed with a rolling property, New Zealand drains exceedingly well.  The flatter landscape offers a pleasantly cunning game with its many small and large swales kicking poorly judged shots into awkward recovery situations.  Bernard Darwin encapsules the qualities of the club and course like no other can; “New Zealand is sui generis. It does not compete with other courses, but it sets its own standard and lives up to it.”  2015

The famed lockers.




Ciao
« Last Edit: July 29, 2022, 03:42:14 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

Ryan Farrow

Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2008, 07:49:50 PM »


This is some good stuff.

BCrosby

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2008, 08:10:22 PM »
Wonderful tour. Your commentary makes the pictures. It's one of the things that makes GCA special. The downside is that I have added another must-play to an already very long list.

Simpson might be more under appreciated than Colt in the US.

Thanks.  Bob

Mike Sweeney

Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2008, 08:11:34 PM »
One thing for sure that I have learned from this website, having London Golf Club as my sole English course on my personal resume is something that needs to be fixed. All three of these courses today look great.

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2008, 08:37:52 PM »
Mike and Bob,
One year from now is the next Buda Cup, which will be played in Kent at Royal St George and Deal, with weekend golf in the London suburbs - New Zealand and possibly Huntercome - followed by a Monday match vs some Littlestone members.

It's not too soon to work on making this happen!  ;D

Mike Sweeney

Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2008, 09:51:28 PM »
Bill,

Mike Whitaker has been hitting me up already for Buda 2009. However, there is a pretty good chance that I will be attending a Gilbert and Sullivan festival next July in Buxton, England. It is a loooooong story, but I should get a few rounds out of it.

http://www.gs-festival.co.uk/

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2008, 09:53:09 PM »
Mike, trust me, there is a lot more golf played and a lot more good beer and single malt consumed at a Buda Cup than a G&S fest.  Time for you to examine your priorities!  :o

Philip Gawith

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2008, 03:23:20 AM »
Thanks for a great tour Sean - sorry I could not join you. Next time! It is a long time since I have heard you eulogise about the bunkering on a course so this is high praise indeed! The short 16th looks quite similar to the second at Morfontaine, also a Simpson course.


JMorgan

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2008, 04:53:53 AM »
Very nice tour, Sean... thank you.  Those closing holes look fun.  The greens appear mild compared to other Simpson courses.

BCrosby

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2008, 08:15:47 AM »
Mike and Bob,
One year from now is the next Buda Cup, which will be played in Kent at Royal St George and Deal, with weekend golf in the London suburbs - New Zealand and possibly Huntercome - followed by a Monday match vs some Littlestone members.

It's not too soon to work on making this happen!  ;D

Bill - Please count me in. I gotta see more Simpson.  Bob

Philippe Binette

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2008, 08:26:50 AM »
Now that.. THAT is Golf

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2008, 08:55:33 AM »
Mike and Bob,
One year from now is the next Buda Cup, which will be played in Kent at Royal St George and Deal, with weekend golf in the London suburbs - New Zealand and possibly Huntercome - followed by a Monday match vs some Littlestone members.

It's not too soon to work on making this happen!  ;D

Bill - Please count me in. I gotta see more Simpson.  Bob

That'll be great.  I'll find the Buda 2009 information thread and bump it so you can get the dates, etc.

Thomas MacWood

Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2008, 09:27:30 AM »
Great pictures - thanks for sharing them.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2008, 10:07:41 AM »
Wonderful tour. Your commentary makes the pictures. It's one of the things that makes GCA special. The downside is that I have added another must-play to an already very long list.

Simpson might be more under appreciated than Colt in the US.

Thanks.  Bob

Bob

Cheers.  Very kind words indeed.  To be fair, New Zealand is a very good mix of Muir Fergusson and Simpson.  I get the feeling that Simpson either didn't want to crowd out the Fergusson work or he wasn't given the go ahead to do so.  Darwin claimed that NZ was sui generis and that is as good a description as can be conjured for the course combined with the club really is unique. 

I want to see more Simpson stuff because the little I have experienced is excellent.   

J Morgan

The greens are generally flat which is perfectly in keeping with the topography.

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

RJ_Daley

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2008, 12:51:34 PM »
Sean, you have a knack for taking pics of your courses...I think you need a nickname as proposed on the other thread.  8)  Your course pics are so 'photographarble' !

I would think that this New Zealand course is a grad study in great drainage in bunker construction.  I take it that it rains alot there.  Every bunker looks clean, dry and drainage slopes & swayles are not obvious at all.  The bunker array and angle diversity is remarkable.

I am jealous of the great golf courses Lizzy gets to pee on!  ;D ;D ;D   
No actual golf rounds were ruined or delayed, nor golf rules broken, in the taking of any photographs that may be displayed by the above forum user.

Richard Pennell

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2008, 02:14:50 PM »
Sean, great photos again. A pleasure to play once more, very impressed by seeing young Liz broadcast on the worldwide web. She's delighted.

Cheers

Rich
"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

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2008, 05:23:10 PM »
The heather in the rough comes right out into your face on quite a few holes: #1, #2, #8, the all carry par 3.  Is it the really nasty stuff?  :o

Bill Brightly

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2008, 05:51:21 PM »
Beautiful pictures! But I never hated cart paths more...I wonder if there has been any thoughts about hiding them better?

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2008, 06:12:15 PM »
Bill each year seems to produce thicker and thicker heather; it is generally far more dangerous stuff than it was only 5 years ago on all the courses I've played recently. Ball swallowing stuff. So it’s either the weather or Greenkeepers sharing knowledge of how to encourage it. Every course you go to is working on it.

New Zealand's importance is often underplayed. Darwin was only 19 when it opened but Horace Hutchinson was 36 and he put it at the centre of developments.  In a chapter of his memoirs called "Inland golf" he focuses on this course as the first important one in the Heathlands.  He points out that it had to be cleared of trees some 25 years before the famous pictures of ST Georges Hill.
Credit for the course is shared. Mure Ferguson was apparently assisted by Douglas Rolland (fresh from Rye). However Ferguson had the reigns at the club for the next thirty years eventually dying there. He was also influential and was an adviser to PM Lucas on the creation of Prince's Sandwich which at the time was in tended to be the most modern links.

Immediately following Ferguson’s death Simpson was called in.  The par 3 third was new and the original 10th and 11th holes were combined.  New greens were constructed at the tenth, seventeenth and eighteenth. And then as Sean has so beautifully pointed out there’s the bunkering to consider.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2008, 06:14:06 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
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Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2008, 08:47:06 PM »
Bill each year seems to produce thicker and thicker heather; it is generally far more dangerous stuff than it was only 5 years ago on all the courses I've played recently. Ball swallowing stuff. So it’s either the weather or Greenkeepers sharing knowledge of how to encourage it. Every course you go to is working on it.

New Zealand's importance is often underplayed. Darwin was only 19 when it opened but Horace Hutchinson was 36 and he put it at the centre of developments.  In a chapter of his memoirs called "Inland golf" he focuses on this course as the first important one in the Heathlands.  He points out that it had to be cleared of trees some 25 years before the famous pictures of ST Georges Hill.
Credit for the course is shared. Mure Ferguson was apparently assisted by Douglas Rolland (fresh from Rye). However Ferguson had the reigns at the club for the next thirty years eventually dying there. He was also influential and was an adviser to PM Lucas on the creation of Prince's Sandwich which at the time was in tended to be the most modern links.

Immediately following Ferguson’s death Simpson was called in.  The par 3 third was new and the original 10th and 11th holes were combined.  New greens were constructed at the tenth, seventeenth and eighteenth. And then as Sean has so beautifully pointed out there’s the bunkering to consider.


I well remember the heather at Beau Desert, and to a lesser extent, at Alwoodley.  The stuff at Beau Desert looked reasonably benign until you made the mistake of getting in it.  It's almost as nasty as ice plant for difficulty of extrication.  >:(   It makes for a beautiful but treacherous hazard.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2008, 11:15:51 AM by Bill_McBride »

Andrew Mitchell

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2008, 08:06:29 AM »
Great photos as ever Sean.  New Zealand certainly seems to be another hidden gem. 

Your photo tours always leave me envious.  It seems that I could spend a good couple of weeks in SE England playing the well known heathland courses as well as the lesser known ones such as New Zealand.  Unfortunately I suspect that neither my wife nor my Bank manager would approve of such a trip!

Incidentally how did New Zealand come by its name?
2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2008, 11:10:03 AM »
Drool, drool.... Great photos and fascinating commentary.

Jeff_Mingay

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2008, 11:27:41 AM »
I can't stop looking at these photos. Thanks for posting them, Sean.

New Zealand appears to be as close to my "ideal" as any course not occupying links-land.
jeffmingay.com

Bill_McBride

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2008, 12:05:37 PM »
I can't stop looking at these photos. Thanks for posting them, Sean.

New Zealand appears to be as close to my "ideal" as any course not occupying links-land.

Jeff, what really makes these classic heathland courses work is the sandy soil.  The heather is beautiful, isn't it?  I'm with you, New Zealand is very appetizing!

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: NEW ZEALAND: A Master Class in Bunkering
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2008, 05:05:41 PM »


Incidentally how did New Zealand come by its name?

From Wikipedia.
Etymology
Main article: New Zealand place names
It is unknown whether Māori had a name for New Zealand as a whole before the arrival of Europeans, although they referred to the North Island as Te Ika a Māui (the fish of Māui) and the South Island as Te Wai Pounamu (the waters of greenstone) or Te Waka o Aoraki (the canoe of Aoraki).[4] Until the early 20th century, the North Island was also referred to as Aotearoa (colloquially translated "land of the long white cloud");[5] in modern Māori usage, this name refers to the whole country. Aotearoa is also commonly used in this sense in New Zealand English.

The first European name for New Zealand was Staten Landt, the name given to it by the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who in 1642 became the first European to see the islands. Tasman assumed it was part of a southern continent connected with land discovered in 1615 off the southern tip of South America by Jacob Le Maire. The name New Zealand originated with Dutch cartographers, who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, after the Dutch province of Zeeland.[6] No-one is certain exactly who first coined the term, but it first appeared in 1645 and may have been the choice of cartographer Johan Blaeu.[7] British explorer James Cook subsequently anglicised the name to New Zealand. There is no connection to the Danish Zealand.



Oh you mean the course name, Andrew. Seems some of the family of Hugh Locke King the landowner emigrated to New Plymouth , NZ.  It first apeared on an Ordnance Survey map in 1865.
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