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Sean_A

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BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire? New
« on: August 30, 2009, 01:06:43 PM »
Bearwood Lakes is a Martin Hawtree design tucked in wonderful Berkshire countryside between Reading and the heathland delights of London. My first two thoughts upon seeing the view of the 1st, 7th and 18th from the house were the course looks American and very modern.  The style of the bunkers screams American.  They are often huge to match the scale of the property, but they are also shaped like many American bunkers - sort of a clover shaping.  I would also say that many of the tees are perched up so the player can read the map the bunkers create, another concept very popular in the US.  I mention the bunkers first because it seems to me Bearwood Lakes, for better or worse is defined by its bunkers.  There is barely a shot on the course where sand isn't an issue.  This too is quite an American concept.  However, Bearwood is a good property for golf and I would have liked to see more ground features utilized.  Anyway, onto the course.

The 1st slips down the hill and a bit right.  The golfer gets an immediate sense of openness and freedom which for the most part is carried throughout the round.  From behind the green the sense of space is apparent. 


A look at the green.


The second is a down and up par 5 with a strong two tier green. 


For some reason, the fairway ends at the drive zone.  There is a bunker left (out of picture) pushing players toward the green.  I can't see why that bunker shouldn't be in the fairway protecting against the long ball.


The medium length one-shotter 3rd is a good hole with an interesting green, much of which is hidden to the right. 


One gets the sense of the "road map" look on the 4th.  For the most part, the bunkering is not very adventurous.  It looks like space has been created behind the left bunker recently, but it still doesn't create the temptation bunkers should.  The design dictates the player accept the poor view as the only option from the tee unless he is extra-ordinarily long or happy to play from the rough.


The reachable par 5 5th, is an interesting hole because of the blind nature of the approach with the combination of fronting bunkers and water to the rear of the green.


The short par 4 6th, the fairway is actually quite narrow.


The 7th takes us back to the house in grand fashion.  I like how the fairway beyond the right bunkers kicks balls left toward the bad angle of approach on the left. 


Due to the severe back to front slope, the uphill approach is much more difficult if the hole is located on the front of the green.


#8 is a sub 300 yard two-shotter which bends around a wee pond that has been recently enlarged.  A layup to set up a wedge approach is prudent, but if the player can hit a high draw there is an advantage to be had if successful with the bold play. 


Because of the larger pond, the par 3 9th now plays over water.  Curiously, the hole seems naked. 


Another big change was the 10th.  The old disjointed ditch and green have been replaced by a pond to the right. 


The 11th is in with a shout for the best hole on the course, but it too has undergone some changes.  Two additional bunkers were added and the fairway now runs left of the bunkers whereas before it ended.  Interestingly, it used to be that three par 5s had their fairways end!  Hawtree was much more daring than usual in his bunker placement angling across the line of play well short of the green. 


This is a clever hole because the focus from the tee is on the bunkers, but the real issue of the hole is the decision to bail left for a tricky side hill/down hill chip or take on the full frontal assault over the deep hollow short of the green. 




The 12th transitions down to the lower lake section of the course for three holes.  For many, this is their favourite part of the property, but I wasn't overly keen on these holes as a group.  #12 - par 3


A moderate length par 4, thirteen plays over the arm of the lake and a stream further on.  The water theme is continued on the one-shotter 14th. I like this sort of water hole because there is clearly a bail out zone on offer.  A look at the green from the rear. 


Unfortunately, the routing has us walking the transition from the lake area to the next tee some distance away.  It is details like this which are so important to keep the flow and rhythm of a course intact.  Luckily, the 15th is a good hole.  Surprise, surprise, an additional bunker was built down the left. 


A closer look at the green doesn't reveal the movement very well.  An admirable aspect of the course is that all the greens are interesting to putt and chip without being ott. 


#16 is an interesting par 5.  The drive used to be blind over the crest of a slight hill.  Now there are flanking bunkers used as a road map. The player has the option of laying back short of the large dip bisecting the fairway.  Once again, the fairway abruptly ends, only this time 100 or so yards short of the green.  There is talk of building a connecting fairway between the fairway and green.  If done right as a fairly severe humpback fairway, it might prove to be a very interesting change.   


The 17th may be the second best hole on the course.  The bunkering on the left is separated by ~40 yards.  One can either take on the carry of both sets (maybe 250 yards), lay-up short of the first bunker or take on the narrow right part of the fairway. This hole strikes me as based on Merion's 10th.




#18 does a good job of visually guiding players left toward trouble.  This photo was taken from the 17th fairway.




I hope you enjoyed this tour of a London course which doesn't get much press.  I had never heard of Bearwood until a few years ago!  Its hard to sum up Bearwood because the course is sound from start to finish yet it lacks something in the sum of its parts.  The greens have interest, there is good and ample land movement and conditioning is good.  However, I can't help thinking that perhaps Hawtree should have been a bit more bold and built more holes in the vein of the 11th on such an a property of this scale.  Of course, it could also be that Bearwood is near some of the most compelling inland courses ever built.  All said, I like the course and it serves as a decent alternative to a heathland star if one can secure an invite.    2013

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 12:58:15 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

Brian Phillips

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Is It Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2009, 01:25:39 PM »
Sean,

When you look at the photos again after you played the course, what is your opinion of the bunkering?

Cheers,

Brian
Bunkers, if they be good bunkers, and bunkers of strong character, refuse to be disregarded, and insist on asserting themselves; they do not mind being avoided, but they decline to be ignored - John Low Concerning Golf

Sean_A

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Is It Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2009, 02:01:17 PM »
Sean,

When you look at the photos again after you played the course, what is your opinion of the bunkering?

Cheers,

Brian

Brian

I don't mind the look of the bunkers.  My issue is more with their placement.  There is very little thinking outside of the box with their placement.  The two holes I liked a lot, #s 11 and 17, was at least partially down to the placement of the bunkers and how the effected play.  I wish more thoughtful bunkering like this was employed on the course.

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

Paul_Turner

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2009, 02:24:06 PM »
Sean

I think your instinct was about right...modern and American style in most of the detail work: not just the bunkers and the mounds around the bunkers, but the greens surrounds too.  Some of the greens look interesting.

Looks like a good piece of land.

I suspect Martin Hawtree would build a very different style course if he'd designed it now.  Particularly as it's in Berkshire.

Although it does look a bit like the new course at Dun Laoghaire, in style at least: http://www.dunlaoghairegolfclub.ie/courses/middle_course_desc/

« Last Edit: August 30, 2009, 02:34:34 PM by Paul_Turner »
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Tony_Muldoon

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2009, 05:15:01 AM »
I played it on the opening day of the last RSG Open and it felt really new. Since then the rough seems to have been managed, it was two foot high hay then, and the fairways were not particularly fast draining.

I enjoyed it a lot, but was not convinced that the lack of 'charm', so evident in the Heathland classics, was solely down to a lack of the patina that age brings.  The Clubhouse was massive and souless and that walk up from the lower lake stuck in my mind.

Good course but hard to see why any overseas visitor would seek it out?


Thanks Sean
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Aidan Bradley

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2009, 11:00:54 AM »











Sean_A

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2009, 06:00:03 PM »
I played it on the opening day of the last RSG Open and it felt really new. Since then the rough seems to have been managed, it was two foot high hay then, and the fairways were not particularly fast draining.

I enjoyed it a lot, but was not convinced that the lack of 'charm', so evident in the Heathland classics, was solely down to a lack of the patina that age brings.  The Clubhouse was massive and souless and that walk up from the lower lake stuck in my mind.

Good course but hard to see why any overseas visitor would seek it out?


Thanks Sean

Tony

No, I don't think this is a first stop for touristas in London, but Bearwood is a good course. 

Paul

The greens are generally good without being special if you know what I mean.  I spose that sums up how I feel about the course in general.

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

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2009, 03:25:21 AM »
Sean,

11 looks an interesting hole, but its the bunkers that caught my eye. There appears to be heather on the face of the bunkers? I dont have a problem with this in principle as most of the heathland courses in this country have similar features, only I dont see any heather anywhere else on the course? Therefore it looks a bit strange, what do you think? Where they trying to evoke the feel of the likes of Swinley and Sunningdale down the road but this was the only way they could manage it?

That green woodpecker looks a bit scruffy, suppose it might have been a juvenile...

Cheers for the pictures!

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

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2009, 04:57:11 AM »
Sean,

11 looks an interesting hole, but its the bunkers that caught my eye. There appears to be heather on the face of the bunkers? I dont have a problem with this in principle as most of the heathland courses in this country have similar features, only I dont see any heather anywhere else on the course? Therefore it looks a bit strange, what do you think? Where they trying to evoke the feel of the likes of Swinley and Sunningdale down the road but this was the only way they could manage it?

That green woodpecker looks a bit scruffy, suppose it might have been a juvenile...

Cheers for the pictures!

James

James

There is heather dotted about in small quantities throughout, but the land isn't really heathy.  I don't know what the club's plans are, but I do know the rough and trees have been cut back recently.  The wide corridors are a real plus for the course and an advantage over many of the heathland courses which feel very small and cramped in comparison.  Even St Georges Hill (which I think is plenty wide) doesn't have the grandeur of property compared to Bearwood, but the charm and clever design more than make up for this "shortcoming".  I spose this is one of the tradeoffs - it isn't always the case, but many times expansive properties tend to be used exapansively (huh?) and therefore longer walks and usually longer holes are created to take advantage of the wide spread features (or in some cases just to fill the space).  I reckon this is where these courses in Nebraska etc have a huge advantage.  If the archie was so inclined he could create quite a cool wee course and yet it would feel much more spacious because of the uninterrupted vistas.  In a way its a take off on links with the sea views which are sometimes full of charm yet feel bigger than what they are.  However, to my knowledge, these new wonders of the modern age have more or less been "standard length" designs.  I know Pac Dunes is only 6700 or whatever, but that is still a far cry from 6200 or even under 6000 which so many visitors to the UK seem to admire. 



Yes, the wee pecker was a babe.  I am not sure how it got to be stranded in the rough and I expect it wouldn't have survived long.     

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

Martin Toal

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2009, 05:29:27 PM »
I am a member at Bearwood Lakes and I think it is one of the better courses in the area. I would agree that the stretch up from the lake (at the 14th) home is not the highlight of the course. My favourite stretch is from the 11th to the 14th inclusive.

The 11th is a par-5 playing up a hill, and from the usual white tees is a fairly straight hole. The black tees, however, are off to the left, so the tee shot must be a right to left tee shot to hold the fairway, and the second shot after a tee shot from either should favour the left side of the hole.

The 13th is a tricky short par-4 with a tee shot played over the edge of the lake, with a ditch across the fairway at about 265 yards and an approach to the green with water behind.

The clubhouse is quite large and may appear soulless, but a club is about people rather than a building, surely?

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2009, 05:40:43 PM »


The clubhouse is quite large and may appear soulless, but a club is about people rather than a building, surely?

Welcome to the group Martin.  Yes a Club is about the people and I'd be interested in hearing more about that. As it's such a new club what's it like to be a member? 


One of the odities of a site calle Golf CLUB Atlas dot com is that the Clubbiness of a place is so rarely discussed.  To use Barney's phrase most of us (and the reports we prodcue) are of the hit and run variety.  There used to be a section of the site called My home Course but I don't see it anymore. Even then people used to describe the course more than anything.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Paul Nash

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2009, 06:00:42 PM »
Martin - another Bearwood member! Will have to see you up there sometime.

Personally, I love the clubhouse - there is usually a good vibe in and it is a great place to have a beer after a game with mates, looking out over the course.

I feel a bit biased but I will never tire of playing golf at Bearwood - it may be different to the local heathland courses, although there is certainly a heathland feel on several holes - and the property itself is certainly very pretty and expansive. I take on board some of Sean's points about what makes it feel American - although I think it is more mid Atlantic - a decent half-way point! The other interesting point was about the bunker placement on holes like 10, which, like on most holes, are slightly away from the green. I think what the photos fail to convey is the scale of some of the greens and the subtle and sometimes not so subtle slopes - combine this with stimping of around 10.5-11 through the summer and it would be very challenging if the bunkers encroached a lot more - although I can now see how some holes could be improved with some slight changes of bunker placements.

If anyone fancies a game at a weekend just let me know - I think the best times to play are late August (heather is out) or late May - awash with rhododendrons, but happy to host if available anytime.

Aidan Bradley

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2009, 06:13:15 PM »
Some more images from Bearwood......




















Gareth Williams

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2009, 04:08:14 PM »
As a fellow Bearwood Lakes member (Hi Paul and Martin ;)) I very much enjoyed reading the feedback here. Also it's nice to see some excellent photography that captures the essence of the course.

The American influence (Troon Golf group) is there to see but over the time I have been a member (5 years now) it is less so in my humble opinion. It bears comparison to the more traditional heathland courses in the Berkshire/Surrey area and given it's age that is quite a feat by both the designer and the management of the club.

Scott Warren

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2009, 04:36:12 PM »
Welcome Gareth, small world!

Gareth Williams

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2009, 06:50:33 AM »
Welcome Gareth, small world!



Hi Scott

It is, but I wouldn't want to paint it  ;D

Cheers,
Gareth

Sean_A

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2010, 03:54:23 AM »
I thought I would push this profile back up as a comparison to The Warwickshire.  I am sure most would agree that as an example of modern architecture, Bearwood looks far more more interesting than The Warwks.

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

Martin Toal

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2010, 07:34:33 AM »
I thought I would push this profile back up as a comparison to The Warwickshire.  I am sure most would agree that as an example of modern architecture, Bearwood looks far more more interesting than The Warwks.

Ciao

Never played The W, but vaguely remember a Tour event there some years ago. Having reviewed the pictures, I am happy to be a member at Bearwood Lakes rather than there.

Another course which falls into the same discussion is The Buckinghamshire, which I have played a few times, and aside from a few memorable (although not necessarily great) holes, I find it a bit forgettable.

http://www.buckinghamshire-golfclub.co.uk/

Martin Toal

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2010, 04:47:20 AM »
Anyone fancy a game at Bearwood Lakes next weekend or the weekend of June 12th?


Paul Nash

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #19 on: October 22, 2011, 06:47:22 AM »

FYI - Bearwood Lakes is in the early stages of some major changes which look like they will certainly improve the course - not sure when they will be finished as plans for 12 onwards have not yet been released but it seems that action is ramping up from next week. There is a comment on the work done so far on the blog and a pdf of plans for holes 1-11 on the second link.

http://blgcgd.blogspot.com/


http://www.wix.com/daniellightfoot/daniellightfoot.com#!golf-course-renovations

Sean_A

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2013, 01:55:42 PM »
I had a chance to see Bearwood after the changes.  I must say, the course is wearing on me!  Take a look at the updated tour.

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

Paul_Turner

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2013, 02:06:26 PM »
Sean

There's still something off about the shaping of this course.  It screams 1980s/1990s UK shaping much like other courses of that time:  Woburn Marquess, East Sussex,  Celtic Manor, Brocket Hall, Wisley...
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 02:57:37 PM by Paul_Turner »
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Sean_A

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #22 on: July 16, 2013, 06:53:05 PM »
Sean

There's still something off about the shaping of this course.  It screams 1980s/1990s UK shaping much like other courses of that time:  Woburn Marquess, East Sussex,  Celtic Manor, Brocket Hall, Wisley...

Paul

There is no question Bearwood is of its time.  I don't think nearly enough risks were taken for my tastes, but that was the style of the time.  Bearwood is still very good, if quite conservative.

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

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2013, 05:09:15 AM »
What were the changes and who was the architect?

Not that I know the course

Adam Lawrence

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Re: BEARWOOD LAKES: Modern Golf in Berkshire?
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2013, 05:17:32 AM »
Guy Hockley, who was the original project architect while working for Hawtree in the 90s, made the changes.
Adam Lawrence

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