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Sean_A

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Enduring EPSOM GC New
« on: June 11, 2018, 11:34:41 AM »
Epsom GC is squeezed between the equally magnificent Epsom Downs Race Course to the south and Epsom College to the north, not all that far from the centre of town which has a great many handsome buildings on display.  The Derby is run each June over the 1.5 mile course and has been one of Britainís premier sporting events for over 200 years. Despite the many glorious races during this period, it is the 1913 Derby which is embedded in the memory of even the casual fan of racing.  A horrendous incident occurred when suffragette Emily Davison collided with King George Vís horse and eventually succumbed to the injuries.  Her intentions are still not clear to this day. 

The origins of the current layout are a bit hazy. But it is known our old friend Laidlaw Purves (of Sandwich and Littlestone fame) was involved as he and other Royal Wimbledon members (including TW Lang) knocked a ball around the downs and built some rudimentary holes. A bit further north the Masters of Epsom College laid out another course.  When the club was founded in 1889, the Lang and Masters courses were sewn together under the guidance of Alexander Patrick.  Soon after a purpose built clubhouse was erected. The course has seen many changes over the years mainly due to the historical paths, tracks and bridleways that would eventually become proper roads.  For instance, the 2nd is merely one of at least twelve holes which used to play over current roads...one hole played over two roads! 



The course starts awkwardly by walking through the 18th fairway...for some it may come as a surprise because there is no green in site.  A rather sedate start, the first does, however,  feature the first of many good greens.  The picture flattens the effect, but the hole location is on a shelf 2ish feet below the centre of the putting surface....shades of Knole Park's 12th!


The tree congested 2nd slings hard left before crossing over the singular 16th, but more on that later. 


I didn't realize there was a cross-over until I was intrigued enough to make my way to this sign.


We now cross a road for one hole, the very odd short 3rd.  The green is huge and it is evident how hard the slope right is!


Back over the road for a short two-shotter, once again with a tree down the middle of the "fairway".  There really aren't fairways as much as first cuts of rough.  Regardless, the bounce and roll-out at Epsom is tremendous. The greens rolled at about 6.  For sure they could be quicker, but if they stimped something like 10 it would be more like a game of pin ball rather than golf.  This is a prime example of the many greens which run away from play.




An awkward walk past 14 and 15 brings us to the 5th.  Playing directly at the race course, this hole opens up into terrain more akin to proper downs.  The 6th comes back down the hill.  There is a large break in the fairway which will require many to lay-up. 


Somewhat similar to the second, the 7th is a shortish par 4 legging hard left.  The green though is quite different and a great example of lie of the land architecture.  I often find this type of green, of which Epsom nearly exclusively features, very difficult to read.  Epsom is a bit unusual in that even when greens are stimping 6ish, there are some considerable breaks.  I found myself constantly off-guard because some putts were quickish and others were slower than molasses in springtime.  Looking at the photo one wouldn't guess how tricky this green is!


Back over a road for the very weird 8th.  The tee-shot is very closeted without hint of a green. 


Luckily, this is the shortest par 4 at under 240 yards from the daily tee.  The race course and downs are in the background.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 12, 2019, 03:18:03 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Minehead & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC 1-8
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2018, 11:50:52 AM »
Oh I'm so glad you got there. Ever since I played there several years ago I have thought to myself 'Sean has _got_ to see this place...'
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Sam Krume

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC 1-8
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2018, 12:18:42 PM »
A horrendous incident occurred when of suffragette Emily Davison collided with the King George Vís horse and eventually succumbed to the injuries.  Her intentions are still not clear to this day. 

She was actually trying to pin/attach a sash to the Kings horse. The sash in question says "Votes for Women" and was recovered by the clerk of the course on the day. Emily died 4 days later in the building you were parked infront of at mine!!!!

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC 1-8
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2018, 12:31:36 PM »
After your spectacular failure over several years to post an Epsom tour on here Sam, I think you are banned from posting on this thread! :P
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC 1-8 New
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2018, 09:13:35 AM »
EPSOM TOUR CONT

The 9th and 10th made little impression on me, yet almost without fail, the holes do finish with good greens.  One might surmise that because the overall length of the course doesn't meet 5500 yards that the long par 4 will not be well represented.  I make no claim to the greatness of the 456 yard 11th, but the hole isn't without merit.


Onto the engaging short 12th.  The tee is in a pack of trees so the wind cannot be easily judged, nor is the green well defined...a prominent trait of lay of the land putting surfaces.  Being a large and angled green,  club selection is of prime importance.  The temptation may be to ensure one reaches the hole, but as with many Ross greens, the risk of going beyond the hole or worse still, being left pin high is too great. 


Another short hole follows and its green is also loaded with delightfully subtle mumbles and rumbles.


The blind drive 14th is a short two-shotter with perhaps the most severe front to backer green on the course.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 02:12:24 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Minehead & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC 1-14 New
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2018, 06:01:40 AM »
EPSOM TOUR CONT

The only three-shotter, 15 is not a special hole in the least except for the green tucked amongst roads; it does give pause for the flat belly.  However, the severe tilt is from back to front.  Onto the uncommon 16th.  I have seen half pipe type holes on occassion, but none with such a daring green.  Just as is the case with Kington's 18th, many people can drive this 288 hole, I dare say some with an iron in hand.  To attempt this shot is rightfully fraught with danger.  Even if played beautifully, there is no way to know the outcome with such an unruly green and trouble lurking beyond. The safe play is to pick a club (if you can) which will not reach the trees on the left or hay right.  This photo is well zoomed from the tee.


There is a cruel break in the fairway which makes the second more difficult to judge.


Balls can get hung up in the right rough.


The green offers no solace. 


Behind the green.


The short 17th reminds me of a poorer version of the approach to #2.  Onto the joys and trickery of the home hole.  Without my trusted guide I was confounded while standing on the 18th tee....a hole I should have spied when walking to the first.  The hole turns aggressively left and in a twist of design, unless one is very long, staying well right is the play.  While not in the least easy, the hole is more straightforward with a bit of prior knowledge.


The hedge which delineates the common land boundary cuts the green off.  Not all that long ago a gap was made in the hedge and I suspect the flanking bunkers are not original either; neither change has improved the hole.  The clubhouse patio is not overly distant to the right and I suspect many a ball has bounded through the drinkers.  Still, its a fine finish to Epsom.

 
I have stated previously that one doesn't travel to play courses such as Epsom hoping to discover a great course.  Rather, I am merely looking for a pleasant game and if lucky a hole or two which will embed themselves into my memory.  The All-England candidate 16th will certainly not soon be forgotten.  And rather than a specific hole, I think the intricate lay of the land greens and simple course presentation will long be remembered.  2018

RAC is on the opposite side of the racecourse.
www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,65366.0.html

Ciao 
« Last Edit: April 13, 2022, 01:17:18 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Minehead & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Adam Lawrence

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2018, 06:47:05 AM »
Note that the eighteenth green complex includes the only bunkers on the golf course -- because that's the only part of the course that is not on common land (hence the hedge).
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Author, 'More Enduring Than Brass: a biography of Harry Colt' (forthcoming).

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2018, 07:57:49 AM »
Sean,Thanks for this tour. There are some great looking lay of the land greens. With so much information available, I think it's hard for us to find an undiscovered great course anymore, but I always enjoy seeing some standout holes or something unique.

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 08:09:38 AM »
Thank you Sean.
Courses and greens that are generally lay of the land can have appeal.
Atb

Sam Krume

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 05:43:02 PM »
Its a shame that the greens were as slow as they were. When they are cut my good god, pick a break double it and pray....

Richard Fisher

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2018, 07:52:26 AM »
Writing in the latest Golf Quarterly, James Woods tells us that in 1927 an astonishing quartet played an exhibition match at Epsom, with the Australian Joe Kirkwood partnering none other than Bobby Jones to defeat Roger Wethered and Cyril Tolley on the 18th green. Whether this was before or after Jones's Open win at St Andrews that year is not revealed.

Sam Krume

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2018, 12:19:46 PM »
Writing in the latest Golf Quarterly, James Woods tells us that in 1927 an astonishing quartet played an exhibition match at Epsom, with the Australian Joe Kirkwood partnering none other than Bobby Jones to defeat Roger Wethered and Cyril Tolley on the 18th green. Whether this was before or after Jones's Open win at St Andrews that year is not revealed.


I think the match you refer too was actually played at the RAC Epsom not Epsom golf club

Richard Fisher

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2018, 01:12:18 PM »
Sam
Many thanks for the correction. Prima facie this did seem a bit unlikely!
That said, there is a nice thread to be done on the most distinguished golfers gracing the least likely courses...

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2018, 01:55:20 PM »
Its a shame that the greens were as slow as they were. When they are cut my good god, pick a break double it and pray....

Sam

How often do the greens get rolling at 8+? 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Benbecula, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Minehead & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Sam Krume

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Enduring EPSOM GC
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2018, 05:30:27 PM »
Its a shame that the greens were as slow as they were. When they are cut my good god, pick a break double it and pray....

Sam

How often do the greens get rolling at 8+? 

Ciao


Sean,
They probably at that sort of speed now through too end of September early October...


Regards
Sam

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