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Sean_A

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WESTON-super-MARE GC New
« on: January 30, 2009, 06:54:56 PM »
According to some locals hanging about in the clubhouse, Weston-super-Mare literally means Weston on (near) the sea.  Why some form of Latin was used for this oft used descriptor I don't know.  By then I was on my second pint of the local stuff and lost interest - though I am sure a reasonable response to my initial enquiry was delivered at some point in the proceedings.  I figured the origin of the name may be the first question so I thought it best to get it out of the way.

Dr Mac remodeled the course at some point around 1922 before sailing for greater fame in Oz and USA.  It is for this reason and this reason alone that I wanted to see the course for these past dozen years.  The fact that the course is at most 1.5 hours from my home and yet it has taken me 10 years to knock on the door is testimony to the seriousness of my architectural interests  ;)

In any case, the Winter Tour of England continued today under the lowering skies of January.  I didn't really have many expectations for W-s-M and to be fair my expectations weren't far off the reality.  That said, the course wasn't at all bad and I believe this is mainly due to the often clever greens employed by Dr Mac.  For the greens are without any shadow of a doubt the main draw of this links.  They are often slightly raised and tilted toward one advantageous angle or another.  This may sound inconsequential considering the generous width of most of the fairways, but in fact, I think the combination of width and desired angles plays out very well at W-s-M.  Now, onto the course and I must apologize for the inferior quality of the pix, but I can only offer what nature provided. 

The first glimpse of the course from the tee isn't at all promising.  Perhaps this is why it is even more impressive that Dr Mac created something of any interest.  Weston starts off gently with a very mild opener, but one already gets the sense the action of this course will by and large come around the greens.  The 2nd is not too unlike the opener.  The most favourable line of approach is from near the boundary line on the right.  Throughout the course Dr Mac offers these strategic options.  Ever present are these old dyke works which presumably had sand at their base at one time.  I think it is very cool that Dr Mac left these hazards in place.  Well, I assume they were left there by Dr Mac, but I don't really know.  Also take notice how the green is slightly raised.  Many of these examples also shed shots on at least threes sides which further accentuates the  correct line of approach.


The 3rd is the first a few very groovy one-shotters.  The green isn't visible from the medal tee, though there is more room right over the wall than appears to be the case.  A large dip short of the green and the wing back rear of the green conspire to encourage the golfer to hit plenty of club.


Behind the green.


The 4th ratchets up the funk with a very busy looking tee shot.  Out of nowhere a sodded wall makes an appearance.  The hole bends right to one of the more than four corners of the course through the a gap.  For those looking to lay-up there is a perfectly placed bunker up the left and a tree right.  Perhaps the drive could be made more thrilling if the gap were wider, but I doubt planning regulations would allow a chunk of the wall being removed. 


5 & 6 are stranded across the road in an area which has seen flooding.  They aren't poor holes, but it is the scenery which is the highlight of this area.  An arm of the River Axe cuts around the 6th to a mooring area with the Old Church of St Nicholas in the background.


The beach is plentiful with the town of Weston stacked up the hillside.  Below is a look at Brean Down.  It looks like an island, but it is in fact a small headland with the island of Steep Holm directly behind from the vantage point of the course.  The Range Rover Sport looks free and easy on the beach.  But for those of you back home, remember, the Severn Estuary has one of the highest tidal ranges on the planet and the speed at which the tide can roll in is to the say the least, alarmingly dangerous.  For those who want to see something special, make time to see the Severn Bore.  There is a fantastic viewing point at Over Bridge, near Gloucester.


The first real testing shot of the day comes on the shortish par 3 7th.  As is evidenced by the photo, the green is raised and all the trouble is up front.  What you can't see is the green is angled to the point where one needs to focus on using the length of the green to hold a shot - nevermind where the hole is.  There are also sharpish drop-offs left and right.  Pay attention to the hill in the background.  I doubt Dr Mac built this feature, but for all its awkwardness it is used very well.  5 holes of the course come into contact with this earth work!


From the 14th tee.


The 8th is a very cool low grade short par 5.  The wind can push tee shots over toward the fronting ditch used for #3.  Its sounds crazy, but for such a flat course I couldn't believe how many times I didn't clearly know where I was going.  There is very little definition for many tee shots; giving the false impression of a wide-open course.  However, the highlight of the hole is the magnificent green which looks like it belongs at Woking.  From right of the green.


The 9th is another one of those strategically lovely holes.  Trouble is dotted throughout the left and right sides of the fairway and the green is slightly raised.  The 10th is a shortish par 4 which encourages players to hug the oob left.  To keep the player on his toes, this green slopes much more toward the front than it appears.  The 11th, the 3rd very good par 3, takes us back out in the same direction as the 1st.  The bunkers are no bargain as they are a sort of mixture of dirt and sand which often encloses around balls causing fried eggs.  There is however a simplistic beauty to raw pits like this.  The 12th legs hard right around a bunker.  If playing downwind it is very easy to run out room left should one opt to stay well clear of sand.  Here is the only trademark "Mackenzie" green of two tiers on the course.


The following par 5 continues the march toward the far end of the links and the freak show that is the huge built up hill that comes into play for several holes.  Its quite ingenious use of what I can only assume is a man made feature. I just don't know what to say about this green site...it reminds me of the par 5 at TNC.


The short 14th with Old St Nicholas in the background.


We finally come to Weston's Road Hole.  Now, if there is any other hole on this planet which is such a blatant copy of its namesake I would like to see it.  One has to hit blindly over the hill which the 13th green was carved into. This hole is a complete monster and was easily the most difficult on the course and one of the most difficult par 4s I have encountered.  That said, it is a great hole if a bit too tight!  Even the green is a good copy of the original.




16 marks time as an old man on his deathbed...a dreadfully dull hole.  The three-shot seventeeth turns abruptly left around blind oob and isn't much of a hole.  Thankfully the final hole is a goodun'.  Most people can't reach the two huge bunkers about 300 yards out.  The green is hard on the oob right and for most a five is satisfactory. 

Well, I hope you enjoyed what little I could show you of Weston-super-Mare.  I really enjoy the course, but I can fully accept that this sort of thing will not impress many people.  There is plenty of scope for great improvements to the design, but I suspect it is a pointless excercise to discuss.  However, that doesn't at all mean that Dr Mac hasn't created something of merit from this extremely unpromising terrain.  But, in good conscious, despite my liking of the course, I couldn't really recommend folks making much of an effort to stop by unless they are extreme Mac Heads on some sort of unnatural quest.  W-s-M is more the sort of course one may play quite by chance and if seen in the right light, it shouldn't disappoint.   2016

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 05, 2020, 05:53:13 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Phil McDade

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 11:28:42 PM »
Sean:

Another wonderful tour of a course I've never even remotely heard of...reminds me of some of the scruffier courses I encountered in Scotland. I like some of that mounding and the odd nature of flatness causing confusion about direction.

Keep the winter tour going!

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2009, 04:12:57 AM »
Linksy turf - it looks that way in photos?

I thought Neil, Tom and others had discredited the idea that two tier greens are  particularly Mac like,  but working several holes to take advantage of that hill would be typical.


Thanks Sean, that's the only round I'll get this weekend, enjoyed it!
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

Neil_Crafter

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2009, 04:52:21 AM »
Sean
A very nice tour and its great you got to finally get to WsM.
"Super" in Latin means over or above, rather than on, but the meaning is effectively the same, and of course "mare" is sea as you know.

We can see from these early photos of WsM that Mackenzie included with some articles on greenkeeping in Golfing from 1922, that the bunkers now are very different compared to how Mac left them. The course is not a new layout but rather a remodelling, so some of the features you describe Sean may well have been remnants from an earlier time.

As for two tiered greens Tony, I get the impression that he built more than a few in his pre war work and that seemed to get him a reputation - so much so that the term "Mackenzie Green" became the generic term for a two tiered green in the north of England.





Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2009, 05:48:42 AM »
Thank you Sean. These are terrific course portraits.

PPallotta

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2009, 11:42:14 AM »
Thanks, Sean.

I live vicariously.

This lesser known Mackenzie reminds me of Tom D's lesser known Quail's Crossing.

I'm getting perverse, i.e. the closer a course gets to a 5, the more I want to play it.

Peter


Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare New
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2009, 03:13:09 AM »
Pietro

The one real hold back for the course is the extreme flatness.  I don't mind this sort of thing, but holes tend to blend together.  The greens, which are good, aren't good enough to really put the course on the map. 

Tony

Yes, the links turf is very fine, but like at many links there are some wet areas.  The greens were in outstanding condition, as good as I have seen anywhere during the winter and better than most summer greens. 

Neil

Yes, I am sure most if not all of the huge earthwork stuff was there before Dr Mac.  These are very Victorian features!  I think its a pity that the dykes aren't tarted up and have sand placed in the hollows.

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 08:06:10 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2009, 04:43:51 AM »
Sean - I dont often disagree with you but I'd say Weston is probably nearer a 3 on the TD scale, possibly a 4, not that a 3 is bad, Toms scale is quite strict. What did Tom give Burnham was it a 6? Weston is pretty unloved in the area and it does have some good bits. As a course, its fair and everyting is pretty much there in front of you, play well you will score well. Normally the bits that golfers say they dont like is the stretch 8-12 and perhaps 16 and 17. The 5th and 6th are good holes, but they lie wet a lot, both are strong 4s, well over 400, but you walk from the 4th green to the 5th tee, then from the 6th green to 7th tee through a caravan park, which is not great, I know the club could have bought this years ago and regret they didn't. I particulary like the 2nd green complex, definitely more could be done to the course and the flatness in some places does detract. The 18th used to be better as the tee was nearer the road, but with safety it got shunted over. That 15th green has been softened in the front and the old picture of 9 which is now 13 I think has had all the 'mac' bits taken out, its a shame they have taken the 'mac' bits away from the bunkers too. I am not sure exactly what he did at the time I  dont think he did every green, but I do recall the 7th green was his. I think 5 and 6 are new. Overall its quite a solid course though and I think it suffers in peoples mind because of the eye candy factor.
Only one person has ever mentioned to me that the 15th was based on the road hole... shows how much people take notice and how much the 'normal' golfer cares.
Nice pics Sean.

A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare New
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2009, 01:03:15 PM »
Sean - I dont often disagree with you but I'd say Weston is probably nearer a 3 on the TD scale, possibly a 4, not that a 3 is bad, Toms scale is quite strict. What did Tom give Burnham was it a 6? Weston is pretty unloved in the area and it does have some good bits. As a course, its fair and everyting is pretty much there in front of you, play well you will score well. Normally the bits that golfers say they dont like is the stretch 8-12 and perhaps 16 and 17. The 5th and 6th are good holes, but they lie wet a lot, both are strong 4s, well over 400, but you walk from the 4th green to the 5th tee, then from the 6th green to 7th tee through a caravan park, which is not great, I know the club could have bought this years ago and regret they didn't. I particulary like the 2nd green complex, definitely more could be done to the course and the flatness in some places does detract. The 18th used to be better as the tee was nearer the road, but with safety it got shunted over. That 15th green has been softened in the front and the old picture of 9 which is now 13 I think has had all the 'mac' bits taken out, its a shame they have taken the 'mac' bits away from the bunkers too. I am not sure exactly what he did at the time I  dont think he did every green, but I do recall the 7th green was his. I think 5 and 6 are new. Overall its quite a solid course though and I think it suffers in peoples mind because of the eye candy factor.
Only one person has ever mentioned to me that the 15th was based on the road hole... shows how much people take notice and how much the 'normal' golfer cares.
Nice pics Sean.

Adrian

Its always difficult to use someone else's scale for these things which is why I don't tend to.  My problem with Doak's scale is that he leans more toward the historically well known courses or the championship courses than I would.  To be fair, I didn't recommend folks really make any effort to see W-s-M.  If one happens to get a game there one day then it shouldn't disappoint. 

One aspect which really impresses me about Weston other than the greens is that often times, despite the flatness, things aren't all there for one to see.  This is mainly due to angling of the greens rather than any clever fairway movement.   

Ciao
« Last Edit: May 03, 2020, 06:41:47 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Kevin Pallier

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2009, 09:24:28 PM »
Sean

Thanks for bringing back some memories - I saw WSM at a slighltly better time off year but must admit I was very much underwhelmed given the "Mackenzie" association. Mind you - as Neil C pointed out via his photos differences in maintenance + time may have something to do with things.

It's not a place I'd rush back too - I'd recommend one play Burnham if anywhere near the area

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2009, 01:34:07 PM »
I've certainly enjoyed the winter tour.  Weston looks like great fun for pretty bland land.  I really like the 7th and the hill behind. 

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2015, 07:50:19 AM »
I recently had the opportunity to play at WSM.


WSM is located on what initially seems to be an extremely flat piece of land, yet considerable visual deception has been incorporated into many of the holes, not surprising really given that Dr MacK' was involved in revising the course.


There are four very nice par-3's - the 3rd, 7th, 11th and 16th - plus a lessor one at the 14th. The par-5's are shortish but some of the par-4 are strong. The wind plays a significant part in a round at WSM though, with the prevailing south-westerly blowing against on all the first 5 holes. There are some interesting green sites, angles and contouring, like the 2nd and 8th and the pretty, well weird, 13th. And then there's the 15th, the Road Hole replica. I took a number of photos of this hole and will post them soonest - see - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,62148.0.html#new

The course would appear to have changed quite a bit at various times over the decades with the over-the-road semi-meadow like par-4's at the 5th and 6th being different in character to the remainder of the course. There are also currently two versions of the 17th hole named and included in the course planner as 17a and 17b. The course is generally quite compact and particularly at the clubhouse end some forethought is needed when other players are in view. Indeed there are tall netting barriers near the 1st/11th tees and also protecting the clubhouse windows and carpark. Not quite tin hat time but.......


The greenside bunkering is mainly, although not entirely, very small pot bunkers, riveted, deep and steep faced. The kind of bunker where finding a decent stance to play a recovery is unlikely...but then again, don't go in them, they are meant as hazards to be avoided after all! The fairway bunkering is mainly larger is size and a bit more swept-up in style. Some fairways bunkers appear to have been filled-in recently.


WSM has a Lytham-esqueness about it. Links terrain surrounded on three sides by housing. However, instead of a railway line the other course boundary is the high barrier of the sea defence wall and the trees and shrubs that grow on it. There is also the manmade ridge that crosses the course at the southern end and which you must drive over from the 15th summer/medal tees and play 'into' for the 13th green. The course also has quite a few ditches and the odd small pond, but these mostly lie parallel to the fairways rather than having to be played across.


I'm glad I took the opportunity to play at WSM. No great looker of a course and certainly no eye candy present, but there's some nice golf to be had and for students of architecture, and especially Dr MacK' work, WSM would be worth a visit.


atb



« Last Edit: November 14, 2015, 11:54:41 AM by Thomas Dai »

Sean_A

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Re: Weston-super-Mare New
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2015, 08:07:00 PM »
atb

Thanks for bringing this tour back up...I forgot about it.  WsM looks better in the photos than my memory suggests it should.  I agree that while at a first glance the greens don't look like they are up to much, but there is a low key interest to all of them. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 08:10:07 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Weston-super-Mare New
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2016, 12:14:48 PM »
I played W-s-M once again.  I must say the course is sort of growing on me.  There is definitely much more than meets the eye even if the old pix above evoke a sense of what could be.  Balanced against that, the course is a delight to walk because there is barely 10 feet of elevation change! 

See the updated pix.

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 08:10:37 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: WESTON-super-MARE GC
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2016, 12:45:01 PM »
A nice update Sean. There's quite a lot of rather nice stuff at WSM especially given the very flat terrain. Once upon a time, maybe quite a while back, I reckon it was probably a really fine course.


When I played the course there was quite a lot of work going on around the last few holes. The fascinating Road Hole copy 15th was as you describe and so was the rather fine 18th but there were holes 17a and 17b and lots of big machines were moving around and trees and scrub being removed. We played a sharp dog-leg right par-5 as the 17th but there was also a mid-length par-3 which was closed-off located between it and the 18th tee. A bit confusing. I did wonder what was up but never got the chance to ask. Maybe the work was nothing to do with the golf club?


Satmap - https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.3259035,-2.9847556,16z/data=!3m1!1e3


Atb

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: WESTON-super-MARE GC New
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2016, 01:03:37 PM »
atb

W-s-M is rebuilding the 19th hole (17a)...a shortish par 3 into what will be faux dunes.  The club has been paid a significant amount of money to take some well graded land fill on the course...hence all the work being done around 12/16/17.  None of the fill effects the course though.  I am told taking this waste will pay about a year's worth of rent as the course doesn't own the land.

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 15, 2019, 08:11:21 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

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