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Sean_A

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TEMPLE GC Anew: 2019-20 Winter Tour New
« on: December 05, 2008, 06:48:03 PM »


As was often the case for English courses designed around the turn of the century, the choice of architects was among a trio of HS Colt, Willie Park Jr or Herbert Fowler.  Having designed nearby Huntercombe and Sunningdale it should come as no surprise that double Open champion Willie Park Jr was selected to lay out Temple in 1909.  The course was originally called Temple Links because it was designed to play as an inland links and the land was previously owned by the Knights Templar.  Despite modern technology, the presentation of Temple is still characterized by the season.  Being located on chalk downland the course does feel somewhat similar to a links and the commanding views of the Thames Valley surely gives Temple a sense of place that is rarely matched. 

The Oppenheimer father-son duo reigned at Temple as a benevolent dictatorship for several decades.  The younger Oppenheimer was a fine golfer and captained the 1951 Walker Cup side which was defeated at Royal Birkdale.  Oppenheimer was also responsible for hiring the best British golfer of the day, Sir Henry Cotton, as the club's professional.  Cotton believed the turf at Temple was outstanding.  However, as was the case for many British clubs, a watering system was installed in the 70s.  At the time, the implications of this modern convenience weren't totally understood.  The heavy use of water and fertilizers altered the character of the course from downland to more of a parkland course.  Some 20 years later and thanks to a forward looking board in the early 90s, Temple became a leader in promoting sustainable golf which aims to encourage fine grasses to prosper by dramatically reducing fertilizer and water usage.  The story of this change in course management culture is chronicled in Confessions of a Greens Chairman by Malcolm Peake, the former Greens Chairman.   

The order of the day at Temple is balancing the long ball against the lay of the land.  Many tee shots require the player to work down or hold shots into a slope.  Keeping the rough fairly light and the fairways broad encourages this style of play, but shots can leak at an alarming rate if the proper angle of approach isn't achieved in firm conditions.   

As this photo of the 1st depicts, the style of golf at Temple is often wide open off the tee with the main defenses being the hilly terrain, wind and the odd bunker. 


#2 is a long par 4 which works it way back up the hill.


One aspect of very wide and hilly fairways which can be overlooked is trying to gauge distance.  The 3rd demonstrates this need to estimate the yardage accurately.  Its difficult to ascertain how far the bunker on the right is from the tee or even if one should be taking it on. 


It is on approaches like this which in firm summer conditions would cause all sorts of trouble.  I am not sure if it is better to approach from left or right.  From the left we can use the hill, but if over or under hit, a bunker awaits.  From the right we can see all the trouble, but our angle is compromised.  Pick your poison.


This angle shows how the right bunker eats into the green.  Generally speaking, the bunkering at Temple is effectively used and attractive.


The club is in the process of upgrading the bunkers.  While some look quite different today, these two seem to be virtually the same and in the same location.


#4 is a medium length par 5 with an interesting green - as all the greens at Temple are.  The fore bunker is well short of the green.


It is by the 5th that Temple worked its magic on me. This uphill par 3 green can be described as a saddle.  The narrow green falls toward the front and rear with the apex near the middle. 


The 6th has another superbly placed bunker making it imperative to stay up the left side of the fairway.  Many of the holes at Temple are about the approach shots.  One needs to work the ball into position off the tee even though there isn't often an immediate penalty for loose shots.


The drivable par four 7th is frought with danger down the low right side of the fairway and has a well protected green. From behind the green the reader gets an inkling of the severely sloped fairway.


I couldn't help but investigate the area this curious sign pointed toward.  Turns out its code for ladies loo!


More flotsam and jetsom.


A closeup of the sign.  The referenced loss of life occurred very near the course at Pinkney's Green when a Halifax bomber caught fire and blew up in the sky.


A longish par 3, the 8th is the first of THREE 200+ yard short holes.  There is a clear signal to the golfer that the play is to come in from the left. 


Temple features a handful of greens which have sharpish tiers.  One such example can be seen on the 8th just right of the pin.


The side finishes with a terrific longish par 4 sweeping left along the boundary of the property. The drive feels much more constrained than previous holes as trees squeeze the fairway on the right. 


There is no space to miss left and the natural left slope of hole often won't kick shots back onto the green.


The putting surface oddly breaks toward the right (left in this photo)!


The back 9 opens with what is without a doubt the most unique blind par 3 I have ever come across.  When I first saw the hole I thought it was a long par 5 (see green to the left). Then we discovered another set of tees further up and decided to investigate by looking at the card.  It is hard to believe there is a green tucked out in that field, but there is most certainly one about 235 yards out. 


In a strange sort of way, the hole reminds me of a macro version of putting into a hole.  One blasts a shot out there and hopes it collects into the completely blind bowl.  I can imagine many not liking this hole, but it is akin to sprouts.  There is no use in complaining.  The damn things are on the plate so they must be eaten.   


The bunker was removed.  While the course played incredibly dry, with so much winter (2019-20) rain, it is asking too much for there to be no standing water in a bowl at least 15 feet deep.


The 11th is a corker down n' up two-shotter which signals a change of pace.  On the front nine, the golfer is generally requested to position his drives correctly.  On much of the back nine there is a demand for accuracy off the tee due to the increased presence of trees. Even with a wedge in hand this shot can intimidate as one wants to keep the ball below the hole.  Amongst a sea of interesting greens, this is one that is viciously sloped.


An older photo reveals the different bunkering.  The dull new syle affords more space for the run up shot. 


The next is a very reachable par 5, but the kick down to the left near the green is very severe so it may not always pay to be aggressive with the second.  I like how the green juts past the left bunker.  It is an excellent way to challenge the player for ball control rather than distance - a trait I enjoy in par 5s. Looking toward the tee.  There are two bunkers in the right (left in photo) shadows.


The 13th is an interesting short one-shotter which yet again tests exact yardage control.  The hole is more uphill than it appears in the photo.  Once again, the simplified bunkering allows for more space to run a shot to the green. 


Previous bunkering.


The 14th is an odd hole.  Out of nowhere we have an incredibly narrow hole down a tunnel of trees. Still, the green complex is good.


Sometimes there is such a difference between tee placements that it can alter the nature and quality of a hole.  The 15th is one such incidence. From the back tee one has to hit a banana-ball cut into the hill just to hold the fairway.  From the daily tee one has to hit well up the left and hold on.  Either way, this is a hole I don't much admire.  The last par 3, and the third at over 200 yards,  is flat, obscured and quite difficult.  There is an opening on the high side of the green which if used leaves a nasty putt down the hill.  The final two holes revert back to the earlier, more open character of the course and they are the better for it.  #17 is cracker which legs hard left, but the fairway down in the valley kicks balls right.  This is one tough hole made more so by a difficult sloping left to right green.  The hole also shows off the valley below 18 green and how much better it would look if most of the trees were cleared.

Temple finishes in a friendly way with a drivable par 4 if one can keep the drive rolling toward the target rather than slipping down into trees below the green.  The short right bunker and shaping has been done since my previous visit.


The two tier green can create some extremely elusive hole locations.




Behind the green.   


Maxing out at about 6300 yards, many will dismiss Temple as old-fashioned, but such courses have their place in the landscape of golf.  Temple has the virtues of being playable for all and an equal balance of challenge, beauty, fun and affordability.  I am especially impressed by the course drainage.  I can easily see Temple "packaged" with Huntercombe and Oxford as a pleasant three day trip that wouldn't break the bank.   2020

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 03, 2022, 03:24:53 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022:

ChipOat

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2008, 07:44:27 PM »
From the looks of the clubhouse, this has to be a U.K. course.  Where is it?

Tim Gavrich

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2008, 09:41:44 PM »
It looks like a blast to play; who designed it?
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Ed Oden

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2008, 10:56:16 PM »


Sean, what did you think about the 10th green, genius or lunacy?  Have you ever seen a sunken green site like that with a bunker inside the punchbowl?  And what is the white circle in the middle of the green that looks like a drain?  As usual, a great review of a course I've never heard of.  Thanks!

Ed

David Stamm

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Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2008, 11:20:26 PM »
Sean, this place looks fun! How were the conditions? Were the greens interesting overall?
"The object of golf architecture is to give an intelligent purpose to the striking of a golf ball."- Max Behr

Peter Pallotta

Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2008, 11:34:32 PM »
As always, my thanks Sean - I really appreciate you taking the time to post the pictures and your insightful comments. Holes 9, 17 and 18, 5, 6, and 7 -- all exactly what golf hole can be, simply and elegantly, and with challenge.

Peter

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2008, 03:09:12 AM »
Ed

the 10th is totally bizarre and like I said, I have never, in all my years of playing funky courses, seen a blind hole like this one.  The bunker looks new, but I am told it has been there 70 years in one shape or another.  The circle in the middle of the green is standing water.  Members told me that the original subsidence which caused this hole (which has obviously been goosed up) was due to flint/chalk strip mining.  Willie Park Jr saw and I spose he couldn't resist using it.  I bet loads of visitors who aren't paying attention to the card hit their tee shots toward the 11th green thinking they are playing a par 5.  Then wonder as they walk past this little gem - what the heck green is that?  I don't think its a good hole, but its so unique that it should never be mucked with except to perhaps create a dimple where the low spot in the green is to shed water away - now that would be wild!

David

The conditions are not too different from (over-hyped) heathland courses except because the course is at some elevation it will suffer from frost and therefore be a bit more sloppy.  That said, I thought the course was passable for winter play.  In the summer this place must be as slick as a bowling alley requiring a load of shot shaping to hold lines!

Chipoat

Temple is near Maidenhead which is to say its probably 30 minutes from many of the heathland classics.

Pietro

You are welcome.  If Temple is anything its a study in simplicity of design and maintenance.  Just as golf should be - especially in times of financial hurt.

Ciao

 
« Last Edit: December 06, 2008, 06:43:28 PM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2022:

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2008, 04:31:52 AM »
I used to play a lot of hockey (real hockey that is, not on skates, what I guess you lot would call "Field Hockey") and the old National Hockey Centre used to be at Bisham Abbey, just round the corner from Temple.  I must have driven past once a week on average for ten years and never played Temple.  Looks like that's a shame.  I imagine the road noise is a problem, that's a busy road and very close to the course.

Thanks for the pics.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2008, 05:41:30 AM »
Another excellent photo essay and, as always, perceptive commentary. I used to play at Temple a bit when I was at Oxford. It was always fun, because it has so much character. It wasn't so noisy in those days (but the steam lorries were noisy!).

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2008, 06:01:06 AM »
Pietro

You are welcome.  If Temple is anything its a study in simplicity of design and maintenance.  As you, just as golf should be - especially in times of financial hurt.

Ciao

 

Sean,

you're quite right. Temple has been well known in Greenkeeping circles for many years now and was frequently used by Jim Arthur as an example of 'best practise' tradition/sustainable maintenance. The one time I played it was in the late summer and it played very F&F.

Mark,

I too played real hockey without skates as they tended to dig in to much on the real (grass) pitches we used in those days. I guess now that it is played on poorer man made pitches (removal of the real skill in hockey of bobble control) some players may try skate (the inline version?) ;)

Richard Pennell

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Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2008, 06:22:34 AM »
Lovely pictures Sean (yet again). Thanks for these.

I played Temple about 4 years back, partly as a response to having heard the club featured in an episode of Nature on Radio 4, which focused on the sustainable practices Jon mentions. The day I played it was very firm, and the minimal water and nutrient inputs result in a beautifully firm surface to strike the ball from.

I found the course to be a delight, and the Secretary a charming and helpful individual, and I've been meaning to get back there ever since. These pictures will provide a kick up the backside for me in that regard.

I don't remember the road noise being too bad - quite a lot of the course is down in the valley I remember.

By the way, Malcolm Peake was the Greens Chairman for several years, starting just before the club and the new course manager decided to work to encourage the finer grasses to come back, and the book he wrote about his experiences is well worth looking out. Confessions of a Greens Chairman was published by the STRI and as well as providing a benchmark for changing the whole culture of course management at a club, it has quite a bit about the architecture of the course, and the work involved in trying to restore playing angles, etc. Its a fascinating read, and he has gone on to be involved in lots of other good work since I believe.

Cheers

Richard
"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

Jon Wiggett

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2008, 07:18:59 AM »
Richard,

good you mentioned the book 'Confessions a greens chairman' which is an excellent and amusing read.

As I have mentioned before on other threads Jim Athur's 'Practical Greenkeeping' is an excellent book presented in terms that the layman can easily understand.

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2008, 05:24:31 PM »
Sean, thanks for the credit but alas itís not deserved.  If I mentioned it to you itís only because Richard Pennell had praised it to me.   The nearest Iíve been is to pass it on thatí road, on the way to Huntercombe - both by Willie Park Jrn.

Road noise is odd.  In my one visit to Portrush Dunluce the wind was from the south East and it was a damp day.  I kept thinking why has no one mentioned this road noise before?

The course obviously follows the lay of the land well but every time Mike Cirba claims Park as some kind of original naturalist I wonder if his work in America was different? Clearly when he thought the land needed Ďaugmentingí he went ahead and added his own features.  They must have looked pretty obvious 100 years ago.







Iím increasingly thinking of all these courses as being like all the churches in any city in Italy (Europe?). At the time of building there canít have been the demand to justify another place of worship  ;) so close to the existing ones.  But the local grandees got together and took the local bank manager to lunch. Then it was send for the Architect who built the one down the road, and tell him to make it better!


The Woking club history is called ĎA Temple of Golfí, they must have realised. Anyone know if thereís a history of this club?

Thanks Sean and Richard. I keep buying lottery tickets in the hope that I one day I will have the time (and a Bentley) to get to know all these courses well.

« Last Edit: December 06, 2008, 05:26:05 PM by Tony_Muldoon »
Let's make GCA grate again!

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2008, 08:09:13 PM »
Tony

I really like the look of these two pics because there is no hint of a golf course for the immediate landing zone.  For all intents, you could be practicing on a range.  Its very unusual to come across these sorts of shots in today's over maintained world of golf. For the most part, people really don't know what it means not to have framing or road a map and I think its a shame we this aspect of architecture has been killed off.



Ciao

New plays planned for 2022:

Richard Boult

Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2008, 11:57:24 AM »

Paul Nash

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2008, 01:05:45 PM »
I must confess that I was not particularly impressed with Temple when I played it last year. I admit that it is a nice location, bar the road noise, and it has some quirky or quaint holes, but I did not enjoy it. The 9th hole - I thought it was a par 5 (?) down the bottom of the course has a really severe slopping right-left fairway and it was impossible to hold it - even if you landed in the fringe on the right, you ended in the light rough on the left. The par 3 10th was so unusual but I still didn't like it. I thought the best hole was the next one, the 11th, a good down and up par 4.

I think there are many better courses in this area, which is around where I live - Huntercombe, Calcot, Maidenhead, Goring & Streatley. From memory, and it is a long while since I last played, I would also rather play Reading or even Sonning

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2008, 01:41:01 PM »
Paul

I think I know what you mean.  As I say, I liked the course but am hesitant to reco it.  Still, I think #s 3, 5, 9, 11, 17 & 18 were all good holes.  Plus, I have to give begrudging respect to #10 as I am huge lover of funk and it is hard to find truly unique holes.  I spose this is one of the advantages of lay of the land designs.

I am considering playing Burnham Beeches and/or Beaconsfield.  How are they?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

Mark Pearce

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Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2008, 01:49:57 PM »
Sean,

It's a while since I played them but my recollection is that Beaconsfield is rather better than Burnham.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Paul Nash

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2008, 02:16:38 PM »
Hi Sean/ Mark
That is another decent and interesting course - Burnham is infinitely more pleasurable than Temple and it is a similar type of course - but, I enjoyed it more first time than second time. It is pretty much as good as nearby Stoke Park, which I feel is overrated. I haven't played Beaconsfield but have heard some good things and I would like to play some day. If you like the more quircky courses, check out Goring, which is great fun.
Cheers
Paul

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2008, 04:51:09 PM »
I recall a hockey scout rolling through Trenton many years ago.  He casually struck up a hockey conversation with several of us then finally asked who the best player in town was.  He probably received 3 different names then asked how big the city is.  When he heard the answer he then politely excused himself saying there can't be three players worth seeing in a town this size.  It doesn't sound like I have been given a ringing endorsement to see either BB or Beaconsfield so I will give them a miss.  Paul, tell me a bit about Goring of the Goring and Streatley partnership. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

Paul Nash

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2008, 05:22:54 PM »
Sean
Goring starts at the bottom of a hill, works it way up, plays most of the round at the top and then comes back down. Great views from the top over the thames valley, and quite a heathland feel at the top. I only played it once about 5 years ago but I would like to go back.

Don't dismiss BB and Beaconsfield
Off to bed - early plane to catch!
Cheers
Paul

Kirk Gill

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2008, 05:35:16 PM »
One thing that struck me was the bunkering on the right side of the 8th green. It looks as if a tiny bunker is nestled in behind the big one, just to give a double-gouge to those who don't execute the first bunker shot correctly. This is probably more common than I know, but I can't remember seeing one that looks quite like that........

Thanks for the photos as always, Sean. Really interesting stuff.
"After all, we're not communists."
                             -Don Barzini

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2008, 05:44:36 PM »
If you're looking for a course to play in that part of Buckinghamshire I'd probably go to Denham, which I think beats both Beaconsfield and Burnham.  With the caveat that it's a long time since I played there, again.  And my views on Denham may be blurred by the fact that I holed out with an 8 iron for eagle at 17 and bumped into Denis Compton in the bar, afterwards, where I gather he was a fixture.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2008, 06:04:33 PM »
One thing that struck me was the bunkering on the right side of the 8th green. It looks as if a tiny bunker is nestled in behind the big one, just to give a double-gouge to those who don't execute the first bunker shot correctly. This is probably more common than I know, but I can't remember seeing one that looks quite like that........

Thanks for the photos as always, Sean. Really interesting stuff.

Kirk

The 8th is a strangely bunkered hole.  I suspect two things.  One, protection for the 9th tee and two, they probably thought one bunker looked weird - so they built a second weird bunker. 

The 4th green has a bunker tucked behind the first one (on the left) which can't be seen in the pic even from this close range not far short of the green - though the bunkering fits in much better to the strategy and it looks better.

Mark & Paul

Are these courses worth a 4 hour round tripper?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022:

Paul Nash

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: TEMPLE GC
« Reply #24 on: December 09, 2008, 12:10:04 AM »
Sean
I can't say that they are if you compare the quality on offer in the wokingham-Hindhead-Weybridge triangle. But they are certainly worth a bit more petrol than Temple!
Cheers
Paul

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