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Sean_A

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Dr Mac in Worcester: BOUGHTON PARK New
« on: October 23, 2011, 07:05:23 AM »
The beautiful house prior to losing the top floor due to a fire.


It should come as no surprise that few know of Worcester G&CC, known locally as Boughton Park, because the course was built on the 19th century estate with landscaped gardens.  The first association people make with Worcester is of course for its sauce. Chemists John Lea and William Perrins branded the sauce in 1837 and it is still produced in Worcester. There are many imitations, but there is only one original and genuine Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce; no kitchen in the country is complete without a bottle on hand.  Beyond the delicious sauce, the cathedral city of Worcester is rich with history.  The last battle of the English Civil War took place in Worcester when Cromwell's forces defeated King Charlie's Cavaliers during the fall of 1651.  In more recent times Sir Edward Elgar was a native of Worcester and it was the home to the world famous Royal Worcester Porcelain, perhaps the oldest English pottery brand in existence.   

Befitting a handsome city such as Worcester, the course is one of pedigree.  On the site of a previous course just on the edge of the St John's quarter of the city, Dr Mackenzie completed an original design in 1922, some 24 years after the founding of the club. With the River Severn flowing through the middle of Worcester, flooding has long been an issue and so it is the same for the course.  A large part of the course covering fully five holes is often closed in the winter months and a makeshift course is assembled on the high ground. To be fair to Dr Mac, three of the holes in the flood plain, #s 9-11 are not of his design.  Perhaps 15 years ago the former club pro designed these holes as a measure to eliminate dangerous situations with nearby traffic.  The changes included

-Moving the 2nd green right, away from the boundary

-The old 3rd through 5th holes were rubbed out by creating the par 5 third using the green of the old 5th; net loss of two holes. 

-The old 14th fairway (now the 15th) was moved significantly right, away from the course boundary.  This necessitated losing the old 16 & 17; net loss of two holes.

-New 9, 10, 11 & 17 were built. 

-The routing on the 12th (old 11th) was changed to play down in the flood plain near the stream.  In the winter, the hole is played on the ridge as originally planned by Dr Mac. 
 
The alterations were highly controversial and for good reason.  The new holes are not in keeping with the remainder of Dr Mac's design nor as a group could one call them good holes.  By all accounts, two very good holes were lost in exchange for three holes which are out of play much of the year. 

What remains of Dr Mac's vision is quite unusual.  A great many greens are tightly bunkered left and right with the green surfaces squeezed as if in a corsett.  It may sound outlandish, but I think the general concept of the green complexes is similar to Cypress Point.  By that I mean many of the greens are lower than the surrounding bunkers with their fronts generally open.  The result, if one is hoping to maximize their success, is a set of greens which must be approached from the dictated angle. Today, there are far too many trees to fully appreciate what would have been quite a wide open course that in fact required precision driving.  Many of the holes have a clausterphobic feeling which greatly detracts from, what in my experience, is quite a unique Dr Mac design.   

The first hole is very tight with the club entrance cutting into the drive zone from the right and trees down the left.  A very well placed bunker can work as an aiming point if one is sensible and lays-up. A closer look of a theme running through the entire round; narrow greens that require the correct approach angle if one is to be successful.


Behind the green.


The second too is a very tight drive with bunkers down the left and an oak to the right.  The approach to the right to left/back to front canted green is very appealing.


The relatively new three-shot third is a little kooky.  There is a daft tree in the middle of the fairway which only hampers high capper play.  The dogleg is very severe, looking like an upside-down L. Beyond a lovely oak are more trees down the right cutting off any attempt at going for this green in two. One has to be content to play his second straight to the corner to set up a short third.  All in all, quite an interesting green, compromised by trees over-doing a job the oak and right-hand bunkers perform very well. The 4th is another par 5.  While uncomfortably littered with trees, this remains a good hole because of the outstanding green. Like the first, the green runs away from the player and is very difficult to hold if attacking from off angles. 




Behind the green.


Turning back on the fourth, #5 is a decent par four hindered by limp bunkering.  The sixth is a medium length par 3 with loads of trouble guarding the front half of the long, narrow green.  Its probably best to play to the rear of the green no matter where the hole is cut.  The general lie of the land leans well right.  As on other holes, for some reason the club does not cut the entire green pad.  This practice heightens the effect of the already narrow greens.


I like the green site for the 7th, but I don't believe the fairway is wide enough to accommodate the severe cant of the terrain left as the hole turns right.  A large oak guards the inside of the fairway, invariably leaving a semi-blind approach from the rough.  The delicate pitch will turn hard left after landing.


Not withstanding the issue of the trees blocking lateral views, the 8th is another exceptional par 3.  In trying to avoid the slippery downhill putt, the false front catches many a golfer out.


In the old days.


In this photo to the left rear of the green, the funneling effect to the front of the green becomes obvious.


The front nine finishes with the strongest of the four new holes.  It is much safer to play well to the right of the green and let the hidden slope work to your favour.  The 10th is an awful hole - a blind drive with the fairway feeding to a pond.  I don't care for the 11th either, but some of that is probably lingering loathing of the 10th.  Luckily, what is likely the best par 4 on the course comes next.  A large tree guards approaches from the left, the same side as the stream. Ironically, Dr Mac designed the hole to play from the ridge to the right.  The 12th is a better hole using that corridor and it is used for the winter course.  A photo of the proper approach used in winter.  Notice how attractive the green site is...stepped beautifuly into the hillside.  This is the only green without trees hampering the views and its only played in winter!


Taken from the rear of the green one can see the upper and lower corridors.


It is unusual for me to like drop shot par 3s, but the 13th is an exception because of the deception of space.  The hole is actually quite tight to a water hazard, but most golfers need a few rounds under their belt to fully appreciate this. 


Many will have guessed that the next is a blind up n' over hole.  The green is drivable, but gaining the angle of approach down the left should be the primary goal.  Here we can see the difficulty of playing the second from the right side of the fairway.


#15 doglegs at a rather awkward distance requiring either a lay-up or a well shaped longer ball.  Once again, bunkers pinch the green making the placement of the drive crucial. In the photo below it is easy to imagine the difficulty in approaching from too far off the centreline of the fairway.


The sixteenth is a very good hole spoiled by trees down the left.  One can imagine how Dr Mac would have lured a player to the safe side away from the oak on the right only to leave the golfer high and dry with a terrible angle of approach. The penultimate hole, while not as good a par 3 as the previous few, is still good. The club has recently embarked on a bunker project.  This hole used to have three bunkers in the front. There are now two and the soap dish like shaping has been changed, however, with the sand faces now removed the bunkers are far less prominent.   

#18 is a difficult finisher requiring a long drive to have a go at the green in two.  It is a pity trees hug the water because I think the water would be more in play if folks weren't concerned about hitting wood and dropping in the hazard.  Still, this is a fine hole.


In the old days.


I probably sound critical of Boughton Park, but I do have a certain fondness for the course.  I enjoy the many greens which are deep and narrow...in truth this course has one of the best sets of greens in England!  The par 3s are good and there is a handful of attractive two-shotters.  However, my reluctance to show many tee shots is because of how one-dimensional they are.  The excellent greens are not properly showcased because one doesn't get many chances to approach from out of position.  There are simply too many trees requiring kick outs when in trouble.  Even so, if one is a fan of Dr Mac and finds himself near Worcester with spare time, Boughton Park is worth a look.  2017

Ciao
« Last Edit: August 05, 2021, 01:03:38 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: Boughton Park
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2011, 01:27:28 PM »
Thank you, Sean. I have played it only once, in 1969 shortly after Jacklin won the Open, and one of the players I was with had just won one  of Jacklin's balls in a charity auction. That's how I can date it, but I remember nothing of the course, which is quite unusual for me, other than the number of trees in awkward spots.

Neil_Crafter

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2011/12 Winter Tour Continues - Boughton Park
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2011, 04:25:22 PM »
Sean, nice tour as always. Condition of the course doesn't look all that flash.
Mackenzie also worked at Worcestershire GC as well as Worcester. Here are some early pics from the club history book at Worcester, seems there were quite a few trees around even then.


John Mayhugh

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2011/12 Winter Tour Continues - Boughton Park
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 01:09:15 PM »
Thanks for the tour, Sean.  I keep hoping you'll publish your own golf travel guide to England. 

Sean_A

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2011/12 Winter Tour Continues - Boughton Park
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2011, 11:48:59 AM »
Mark, Tucky and Neil

You are welcome. 

Neil, those photos are on the spike bar wall.  The bunker short of the first tee is really odd as it faces the 1st tee instead of the 18th tee.  Notice too all the trees not there in that same shot. 

The now gone par 3 4th looks to have been a very interesting hole, probably much better than current 17th.  The now gone par 3 16th would have been interesting with its green dug into the hillside near the tee of the now numbered 12th (which used to be the dogleg right 17th on the ridge).  If that map shows the bunkering accurately, it too looks more interesting. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 06:59:08 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Neil_Crafter

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2011/12 Winter Tour Continues - Boughton Park
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 04:04:56 PM »
Thanks for the comments Sean. The map I believe is a copy of Mackenzie's design plan.

Sean_A

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 05:17:46 AM »
Please see the updated tour. One aspect of the recent visit is the creation of fantastic aprons to be used when the greens are wet or frosty.  They are very well done, keeping the bunkering or other elements well in play.  

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 05:20:23 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Neil_Crafter

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 05:34:22 AM »
Thanks Sean.

Sean_A

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2014, 06:19:42 AM »
Neil

The more I look at the old pix you posted, the more intrigued I am by the 8th (old 10th).  With the new bunker scheme the hole sets up visually quite different.  It also looks as if the green wraps under the left bunker.  When looking at the stick map, it is evident that Dr Mac at least considered a two tier green here.  Its very intriguing.  

It is also interesting to see that bunker by the 1st tee. That essentially means the 18th fairway was also pushed right (thus making the use of the proper 12th fairway in the summer impossible).  Now of course there are two putting greens just left of that old line and I spose the house must have been in danger of loose shots.  However, the bunkers looping around the water on 18 makes sense in the old pic and the current new apron (which juts miles to the left of the green) makes much more sense once one realizes the original line of the 18th fairway (it was far less of a dogleg originally).  

In general, I much prefer the fairway bunker placement for the stick map than what currently exists.  Even a load of bunkers some 20 or so yards short of greens are not in the ground today.  

Do you have anymore old pix?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Neil White

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2014, 11:33:52 AM »
Sean,

Google Earth has an image going back to 1945: -



Such a shame the course is being suffocated by successive years of planting.

After playing the course I honestly believe the Dr Mack holes could be substantially improved through tree removal.

The third (summer course) as you say would be so much better if the trees beyond the oak were removed - the fourth could then be made a long par four as opposed to a shortish par 5 by moving the fourth tee up the fairway as it used to be - see Neil's plan.

I wish the green committees of courses with such pedigree would appreciate what they have - as we said last week the course doesn't really need length to protect it - the narrow green complexes do that plenty themselves.

Boughton is in severe need of the Morrissett effect.
Courses played 2020 - ................!

Terry Lavin

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2014, 11:53:23 AM »
If ever I grow up, I want to be Sean Arble.
Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  H.L. Mencken

Thomas Dai

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park New
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2014, 01:28:29 PM »
When Alister MacKenzie laid-out the course at Worcester/Boughton Park in the late 1920's he laid it out inside the grounds of a big house situated in open countryside on a sand bluff above a valley/stream outside the city. The grounds had formal gardens including some wonderful old trees some of which now have preservation orders on them. MacKenzies course had numerous long, narrow greens with his usual amount of cunning internal contouring. Fortunately most of his original greens still remain because other changes have unfortunately occurred, although the club have done well to minimize there impact.

Around about the late 1980's-early 1990's the course had become bounded by housing and roads and following a legal case modifications had to be made to the course and several holes were either lost entirely or heavily modified.

If these changes had not been made the course would have ceased to be an 18-hole course.

There is also a further factor involved. Flooding. The original course, one hole (the original 12th) apart, was entirely built on a sand bluff above a stream. Flooding, which is not unknown in Worcester given the city is built on the banks the River Severn, didn't really affect the original MacKenzie course. As part of the 1980's-90's changes however, three completely new holes had to be built in a valley to the SW of the property and these holes are out of play when it floods, which to be fair, isn't that often.

However, in times of flood, the club take measures to ensure they can still play 18-holes as they have several back-up holes/greens situated on the sand bluff - and maintained in the same manner as all the other greens and these are brought into play when flooding occurs. These back-up holes/greens form part of what is known as the 'High Course', which plays about 5,200 yds and has 7 par-3's whereas the full course normally plays around 6,300, par 70.

In the winter, as Sean has alluded to, the club also mow the aprons to normal green height which gives bigger and flexible areas to putt on, and in conjunction with the usual greens they putt very well. This is an excellent move, probably one other clubs should consider.

As Neil and Sean have mentioned, there are a lot of trees on the course, significantly more so than in the 1945 aerial Neil has posted. Some of them are well over 100 yrs old and are features of the property, but most are of a more modern vintage and whether they are all needed/appropriate is a matter of debate.

Overall, summer or winter, Worcester is a thoroughly nice course to play, a friendly private members club with a lot of lovely original MacKenzie holes and greens. It is always kept in excellent condition - the greens are well known for being firm and fast, and fortunately, the course still has 14 of the original MacKenzie greens, and rascals they are to play to and putt on. Some are beautifully benched into slight hillsides and slopes and others carefully tiered in MacKenzies usual style - certainly worth viewing if you're a MacKenzie fan.

atb


Later edit - the clubhouse around the time the course was opened
« Last Edit: July 08, 2019, 02:28:06 PM by Thomas Dai »

Sean_A

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2016, 06:31:07 AM »
See the updated tour.  It had been a few years since my last summer visit...and now I remember why.  The overabundance of trees is an increasing annoyance for me especially as I think the course is good! I thought that perhaps as at Worcestershire, that the issue of trees would have been broached.  Sadly, this isn't the case, what a pity.


Ciao
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 06:34:08 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

Niall C

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: BOUGHTON PARK
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2016, 07:01:47 AM »
Can't recall seeing this thread before but really enjoyed it. The greens reminded me of Duff House Royal.


Niall

Thomas Dai

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: BOUGHTON PARK New
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2016, 05:58:11 PM »
Nice Boughton refresher Sean.

Trees, or rather too many of them, the usual issue on most inland courses.

These days however, many trees, whether deliberately planted or simply permitted to seed and then just grow through lack of maintenance practices over many decades, have reached a size (height/diameter) that the clubs green-crew cannot deal with them (licences/H&S/insurance etc) so specialist tree contractors are required.

Specialist tree contractors are expensive though, and when clubs are being careful with their cash tree work that results in money being spent with outside contractors, like it or not, becomes a low priority. So any tree work deemed necessary by the powers that be and the membership will most likely be done slowly, a little bit at a time over a long, long time period, although hopefully maintenance practices will be adopted that prevent new tree/scrub growth from occuring and exacerbating the issue. And there's always the tree-hugger lobby to contend with.

Time for the return of sheep and the use of tethered goats perhaps?!



A couple of comments on the course. The 2nd green used to be much more to the left, nearer the road, until the course changes caused by housing etc were made. The green on the over-the-pond par-3 8th was once more curved with the putting surface much more hidden behind the left hand bunker and the current high right side area of putting surface wasn't always there. The bunker visible near the 1st tee in the photos posted by Neil C was a fairway bunker on the 18th.


Niall,

I see where your coming from in relation to DHR. Others in the SW Midlands that have some similarity would include much of Walsall, the Mack' greens at Malvern and, even though there's no documented Mack' evidence, Stourbridge. Lots of egg-timer shaped greens some front-on, some angled.

Atb


PS - the white disk positioned behind the 1st green is a new addition - if it's foggy and you can't see the disk from the tee the course is closed.

Edit. Some photos from 2017 now added.

Rear of 4th

Front of 6th

8th

12th (winter angle)
« Last Edit: May 19, 2019, 02:22:35 PM by Thomas Dai »

Sean_A

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Re: Dr Mac in Worcester: 2013/14 Winter Tour Continues at Boughton Park New
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2018, 03:28:23 AM »
I have no idea what I did to bring this back up!  Sorry.


Ciao
« Last Edit: February 24, 2018, 09:18:17 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, Malone, Cruit Island & St Pats

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