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Sean_A

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The Morass of MEYRICK PARK New
« on: May 14, 2018, 10:45:31 AM »


Meyrick Park in Bournemouth is but one example of golf course construction following the arrival of the railroad.  Bournemouth’s population exploded between 1870 and 1900 from 17,000 to 60,000.  Coinciding with the increase in population was the expansion of the town; many of the Victorian buildings remain today. 

The story behind the creation of the parks is as complicated as it is fascinating.  After the General Inclosure Act of 1801 it became evident that large swaths of common land would no longer be accessible for families who for generations used the land for grazing stock, planting crops, cutting wood, turf cutting etc.  It wasn’t but a year later that the Christchurch (just north of Poole Harbour) Inclosure Act came into force. Fearful local villagers requested William West, a well educated farmer, to make representations on their behalf before the commissioners. After several years, the Commission eventually ruled that 425 acres should be set aside in five Bournemouth area locations for qualifying locals to use the land as had always been the case.  Eventually, more efficient fuel sources antiquated the need for turf cutting, so these five turbary commons came under the control of the newly created Bournemouth Borough Council in 1890. George Meyrick was instrumental in transferring the commons into parks, using the Five Parks Act.  The result was the creation of Queens Park, Meyrick Park, Kings Park, Redhill Park and Seafield Gardens. Queens Park and Meyrick Park would include municipal courses.
 
Soon after the parks were established, a new Tom Dunn designed Meyrick Park Golf Course opened in 1894; it was the first municipally owned course in the country.  Of Meyrick Park, Dunn wrote: ‘Nothing appeared on the surface of the land but heather, furze and pine wood; but with a hundred men, twenty horses and a scarifier, short work was soon made of this wilderness, and the links was completed in three months. It cost £2500.’  Dunn remained at the club for five years as the professional and greenkeeper.  During this time he also designed nearby Broadstone GC.  As was the case with Meyrick Park (1926 redesign); this too was extensively redesigned by Harry Colt.  It should be noted that the course covers 122 of the 194 acres and that Meyrick Park hosts sporting recreation other than golf.  In fact, next door to the golf shop and course is a recreation centre which is home to a gym, pool and restaurant.  Bowls and Rugby Clubs are on the grounds as well as tennis courts.  There is also the Lodge directly behind the 18th green, which is well situated for visiting Bournemouth. Finally, there are seemingly endless walking paths around the park and course.  Often times the middle of fairways admirably serve this purpose.

I am not sure what precipitated the extensive Colt redesign, but it can be fairly said that at least some of the results were outstanding...as old photos clearly demonstrate.  The property is a combination of flat and unruly land, prompting some to compare it with The Addington.  Because of the interesting terrain, there is an easy balance of funky and straight-forward holes which is appealing.  If everything sounds too good to be true...it is.  Other than the usual bunker and green size neglect, there is far more than the usual tree encroachment. Despite recent efforts to create light and airflow for greens with tree removal, Meyrick Park doesn’t just feel narrow, it is depressingly claustrophobic.  So much of what could be showcased terrain is buried in decades old foliage. I might also add that the foliage can on many occasions create dangerous situations with walkers because they often cannot be seen.



The opener is rightfully considered one of the most difficult short holes in the UK.  Knowing nothing about the course except for the odd bits and bobs passed on by P Turner, I assumed this thing is a par 4!  One of my playing partners quickly disabused me of that foolish notion.   From the back tees it is 238 yards with virtually no place to miss. 


Image courtesy of T Kelly.


I think the only changes from the Colt work are the second and third.  These are not special holes, but they tick over without creating much fuss; although at 445 yards the third is formidable. 




The short holes are not for the weak.  The 4th measures 239 yards.  One can readily see the negative effect of bunker reduction and vegetation encroachment, however, even in a denuded state this is a very good hole.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 06, 2021, 06:45:04 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

Clyde Johnson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-4
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2018, 03:27:46 PM »
One of the first courses that comes to mind when asked which course I'd like to most see 'restored' in GB&I.


A chainsaw would make a huge head-start...!

PPallotta

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Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-4
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2018, 04:33:14 PM »
S - what a lovely golf hole that drawing makes the 14th out to be. (It brings to mind a hole one might encounter at Riviera). But I'll be curious to learn what about this course merits the 'morass'!
P

ward peyronnin

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Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-4
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2018, 10:00:36 PM »
Goodness these holes appear to be more walking trails than golf holes
"Golf is happiness. It's intoxication w/o the hangover; stimulation w/o the pills. It's price is high yet its rewards are richer. Some say its a boys pastime but it builds men. It cleanses the mind/rejuvenates the body. It is these things and many more for those of us who truly love it." M.Norman

Sean_A

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Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-4 New
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2018, 05:22:33 AM »
Clyde

I would like to see more old pix because what is in the ground today is without a doubt very intriguing. 

Pietro

Henry Cotton thought there was no finer hole than Meyrick Park's 14th. 

Meyrick Park Tour Cont

The 5th is a very odd hole which reminds me somewhat of New Zealand's 17th.  Turning hard left around a tree infested ravine, this is the very definition of target golf.  The 6th too is odd.  As one can see, the tee shot doesn't look right.  I believe the tee used to be much more forward as was the case for the 4th hole, which was a par 3. 


 

 

A look at the green as it was in the old days.  The Colt trademark green defined by mounds makes me believe Franks Harris did the construction work.


So far 1, 4 and 6 have hinted at what Meyrick Park once was.  Still, I wasn't prepared for the magic garden of 7 and 8, holes isolated in a wee valley.   This is without a doubt the highlight of Meyrick Park.


It may seem like the hole is dead straight, but the green can't be seen from the tee. I suspect the rough patch was an area which was Dunn's 11th green prior to Colt's work.  The raised green is set in a beautiful amphitheatre.


What the photos can't depict is the attention that is drawn to the 8th while walking down the fairway....for sure an All-England candidate.




For many this hole may seem perfect now, but this old photo demonstrates how important the plateau is to the hole with the trees left cleared.  I suspect the 4th also had more space left. 


Regretfully we now leave the valley, but the quality of the 9th eases the pain. Below is a look at the hole well in front of the tee. 


Three crossing bunkers block the ground route to the green.  Why on earth is there a path between the bunkers?




One might have thought there would be some respite with the next short hole, but no, the 10th is another heroic shot over a chasm. 


The terrain for the 11th is lovely, but tree encroachment all but spoils the party. 


The same is true for #12.


Below is what Colt envisioned. The three current issues of tree growth, bunker and green shrinkage are clearly demonstrated above when compared to the old photo.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 05, 2021, 04:53:51 PM 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: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2018, 12:54:04 PM »
Looks great, I have never hear much 'raving' about it.
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

PPallotta

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2018, 06:34:53 PM »
Sean -- I've seen so many of your tours for Colt designs where he *didn't* have a great site to work with that it's a bit sad to see the devolution of a course where he *did*
Peter



Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2018, 05:08:04 AM »
Looks interesting. Would seem like a lot of chainsaw work is needed though. Love the old photos.
Atb

Sean_A

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Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12 New
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2018, 08:39:17 AM »
Yes Pietro, Meyrick Park is a great site and it is a huge disappointment to see it maltreated.

Meyrick Park Tour Cont

The course does go downhill from here in, but there are a few highlights remaining and some seriously odd holes.  Not surprisingly for a course measuring 5689 yards from the back tees, the 13th is a yet another short two-shotter.  The par 5 fourteenth is perhaps the last true shining moment of the design....or at least it should be.
 

 

 

 

Incredibly narrow, the 15th is actually a good hole despite the green being stripped of its historical interest.




On a few holes there are interesting fairway swaths cut into US Open style rough....reminds me of Wimbledon.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 06:49:44 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

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Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2018, 10:12:54 AM »




It would be interesting to know how many mms these greens were being cut to and how many times per week they were cut. My suspicion would be circa 8mm and not necessarily every day but I could be incorrect.


A stimp reading would also be interesting! About 4 ft maybe?


I bet there’s quite a bit of loft on the putters being used by the chaps in the photo too.


Be nice to have access to a GCA time machine sometimes.


Atb






Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-15 New
« Reply #10 on: May 17, 2018, 03:04:19 AM »
Meyrick Park Tour Cont

The run home is essentially three holes heading toward The Lodge behind the 18th green, though all are quite different.  The main theme of very little space to play the game, however, does not change.  16 turns right at a very awkward distance where there is a large dip in the fairway.  My playing partners thought there was some merit, but my over-riding impression was target golf...again...only this time with two 6 irons or some such play.  That said, the angled, peninisula green is somewhat interesting as I suspect, as is the case with many previous holes, there used to be an infinity effect. 


Before retiring for a drink we are treated to one final wierd and whacky hole.  The 17th plays from a tee to the right and below the 16th green, creating an incredibly narrow blind drive over a large expanse of flat land and the forward tee.  The fairway then plunges to green level.  It would take a good drive to reach a point where the green was visible for the second.  Even as crazy as it sounds, if the trees were cleared, this might be a terrific hole.  Not having any idea of where to drive and knowing that walkers had invaded the course, we moved up to the daily tee.  I should add a bit more about walkers; the 11:50 am final tee time on Sundays is to accomodate afternoon walkers.  By the time we reached the 16th it was clear that walkers ruled the roost at this time of the day as fairways were defacto paths.  Anyway, from the daily tee the drive is still blind, but there is plenty of elbow room should one holster the driver.


 

The home hole reverts back to form with a dangerously narrow fairway flanked by the car park.  To top it off, the fairway slopes left toward the lot. 

I found it interesting to play with a few guys in the architecture business because they were able to concentrate more on the possibilies of Meyrick Park rather than the stark reality of a course buried in a jungle.  There are times when I can share the enthusiasm of possibilities, but in this case I don't envision the powers that be will ever seriously tackle tree infestation.  What needs to happen is a profound rethink of the property as a local amenity.  Is it a park, golf course or both?  If the answer is that the course will be shared with walkers, then the property must undergo a major transformation to create a far safer situation than currently exists.  I found Meyrick Park to be a depressing experience because it is a hopeless situation. However, and remarkably, there are some cracking holes even in the current state and the list is led by the 8th.  There has been some recent effort to clear trees, lets hope holes such as 1, 4, 8, 9 and 17, which don't need a significant amount of work to fulfill much of their promise, will get some attention and perhaps lead to bigger questions about the sustainability of Meyrick Park.  2018

Ciao   
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 06:52:45 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: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2018, 09:17:14 AM »
Thanks for highlighting Sean. Appears the course is/was laid out over some interesting and varied terrain. Shame about the these days excess of trees.
Atb

Jon Wiggett

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Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2018, 09:39:43 AM »





It would be interesting to know how many mms these greens were being cut to and how many times per week they were cut. My suspicion would be circa 8mm and not necessarily every day but I could be incorrect.


A stimp reading would also be interesting! About 4 ft maybe?


I bet there’s quite a bit of loft on the putters being used by the chaps in the photo too.


Be nice to have access to a GCA time machine sometimes.


Atb


Thomas,


I would have thought they could have been cutting as low as 5-6 mm and probably every second to third day in the main season. But even at your 8mm with the lack of automatic irrigation I would imagine 7-8 foot would have been the norm.


Sean,


do you think that the 14th green was originally a bit beyond the present green and to the left atop the slope. On the black/white there is a bunker that gives me this impression.


Jon
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 01:33:35 PM by Jon Wiggett »

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: The Morass of MEYRICK PARK 1-12
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2018, 04:17:04 AM »




It would be interesting to know how many mms these greens were being cut to and how many times per week they were cut. My suspicion would be circa 8mm and not necessarily every day but I could be incorrect.

A stimp reading would also be interesting! About 4 ft maybe?

I bet there’s quite a bit of loft on the putters being used by the chaps in the photo too.

Be nice to have access to a GCA time machine sometimes.

Atb

Thomas,

I would have thought they could have been cutting as low as 5-6 mm and probably every second to third day in the main season. But even at your 8mm with the lack of automatic irrigation I would imagine 7-8 foot would have been the norm.

Sean,

do you think that the 14th green was originally a bit beyond the present green and to the left atop the slope. On the black/white there is a bunker that gives me this impression.

Jon

Jon

I wouldn't have thought the green was different back in the day.  It is set in a natural position below the next tee.  I imagine that  bunkers fronts the uphill green.

Ciao
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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