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Lukas Michel

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What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« on: January 17, 2019, 09:00:39 AM »
Quite shocked to see these photos on twitter today of the remodeled 17th at Swinley Forest.


I haven’t seen any historical photos of the hole but to my eye the changes look horrible.






Tim Gallant

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2019, 09:13:55 AM »
Lukas,


You beat me to the punch (again :) ).


I am genuinely gutted about this. The hole was one of my favourite 3s in the Surrey area, and now it looks destroyed. I loved how the sharp rises on both sides of the green made it feel do or die. Now, they've butchered the bunkers and levelled the slopes in the name of fairness. This might be the first course that is currently in my top 10 that I don't know if I want to go back to for fear of disappointment. Also see the man-made path they put in front of the 13th green.

Lynn_Shackelford

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2019, 09:19:01 AM »
As this is one of my favorite places and in the world, please can someone explain this?  It astounds me that anyone living today think they can improve upon Mr. Colt's work, or more importantly why would anyone want to change Harry's "least bad course."
It must be kept in mind that the elusive charm of the game suffers as soon as any successful method of standardization is allowed to creep in.  A golf course should never pretend to be, nor is intended to be, an infallible tribunal.
               Tom Simpson

Marty Bonnar

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2019, 09:58:38 AM »
What on Earth is going on?
F.
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town,
Washed the people coal-black from the hole in the ground.

James Reader

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2019, 11:14:29 AM »

Quote on Twitter from the Head Greenkeeper:
17th hole green surround been made fairer, safer and more maintenance friendly, bunkers been made smaller and re positioned”
Nothing in that suggests “improved” to me.  Agree it was a great hole as it was.  I’d be interested to know how much, if at all, it had already changed from Colt’s original design.

Mark Pearce

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2019, 12:15:52 PM »

Quote on Twitter from the Head Greenkeeper:
17th hole green surround been made fairer, safer and more maintenance friendly, bunkers been made smaller and re positioned”
Nothing in that suggests “improved” to me.  Agree it was a great hole as it was.  I’d be interested to know how much, if at all, it had already changed from Colt’s original design.
I think it is almost inevitable that any change to any hole intended to make it "fairer" will not improve the hole.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2019, 01:14:20 PM »
Any architect involved or all in-house?

Andrew Hastie

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2019, 01:24:23 PM »
Frank Pont was consulting there. I don't know if that's still the case.

Adam Lawrence

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2019, 01:26:27 PM »
Frank Pont was consulting there. I don't know if that's still the case.


I can't see Frank signing off on this. Will check.
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

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2019, 02:05:10 PM »
I guess the steep drop off shown here had something to do with the maintenance and safety rationale, but presumably the course had managed ok with the prior version. Seems like an unnecessary dumbing down (based on the limited info).
sf 17 g from 18 t by john mayhugh, on Flickr

Jay Mickle

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2019, 05:48:22 PM »
Any architect involved or all in-house?


From the greens keeper's twitter feed, it surely seem that he is most pleased with the results. Perhaps the executioner as well.
@MickleStix on Instagram
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Bob Jenkins

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2019, 08:26:13 PM »



I totally agree with the sentiments expressed here. Swinley is a special place and my round there in 2009 with John Mayhugh will never be forgotten. The only negative is how John birdied 17 and 18 to beat me in our match. Accordingly, 17 couldn't have been so unfair!

Frank Pont

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2019, 04:36:31 AM »
Frank Pont was consulting there. I don't know if that's still the case.


I can't see Frank signing off on this. Will check.


I am not involved with any of the works on hole 17 of Swinley.

Worked between 2011 and 2015 with the club.
Was hired by the then secretary Steward Zuill, and worked a lot with then assistant course manager John Band (now the CM).
First thing we did was expand the greens back to their original sizes.
Also helped them with restoring bunkering on holes 4,5,9 and 12 and built the new back-tee on hole 5.
Encouraged them to cut rhodo's especially at holes 9, 12 and 13. (they have cut much more rhodo's since, often with spectacular results)

Also developed a course plan for them based on historical aerial pictures, which they seemed to have used as guidance on a number of holes. Examples are:
Removal of bunker behind the green of holes 2.
Removal of the green bunkers of hole 3 which had not been there originally.
Rebuild of the green bunkers on hole 5.
Rebuild of the 3 bunkers on hole 13.

However they did not use my plan for changes they have made on holes 17 and 18.

My direct involvement with the club stopped at the end of 2015 when the club told me they were comfortable doing the work in house with a shaper without my assistance.

John Mayhugh

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2019, 07:38:33 AM »
Frank,
Thanks for the explanation. Their in house approach seems ill advised.

Does anyone know the story with the cart paths? That looks like asphalt. Surely not. I much prefer the lighter colored gravel and grit type they had before. Much less visual impact.

https://twitter.com/GJRobertsTurf/status/1083800540344143877

Brett Hochstein

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2019, 01:14:13 PM »
Is that entire ditch/falloff on the right filled in now?  Gotta say this doesn't look very good based on the evidence.  By my vision from the photos, it looks like they they took something that is sharp, original, dramatic, and classically period and made it soft, typical, undramatic, and modern.  When you have something really special, why ever dumb it down?  Luckily at least there should be plenty of photo evidence out there to put it back someday, should that ever be chosen.



Does anyone know the story with the cart paths? That looks like asphalt. Surely not. I much prefer the lighter colored gravel and grit type they had before. Much less visual impact.

https://twitter.com/GJRobertsTurf/status/1083800540344143877



I've recently heard some arguments for blacktop/asphalt to be used because it is "more natural" in that it doesn't stand out as starkly among green grass or in shadows.  I sort of get that if you look at everything as an abstract color spectrum with no context whatsoever.  Human nature though makes us immediately associate the things we see with the way we understand them, and when I see asphalt I think of a paved road made with foreign materials.  So, I'm having a hard time buying the argument.
 
Asphalt is clearly a manmade substance, and we quickly understand it to be so when we see it.  Maybe that asphalt path hides slightly if glancing through the landscape quickly, but you are eventually going to notice it and recognize it for the foreign substance that it is.  I would rather try and mimic local soil conditions or match the paths more closely to the tone of the sand bunkers.  That way, they look like they are scraped or beaten from the earth. 


You could make the argument that concrete is a substance as foreign as asphalt, and I would agree and try and stay away from it as much as possible.  But if you absolutely need a hard path, concrete is a better choice than blacktop as it much more closely resembles earth and sand tones.  That is unless you are working in a volcanic area where the soil is black, in which case, asphalt away  ;)
"From now on, ask yourself, after every round, if you have more energy than before you began.  'Tis much more important than the score, Michael, much more important than the score."     --John Stark - 'To the Linksland'

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Tal Oz

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2019, 02:35:39 PM »
Here are a couple of photos of 13 and 17 I took when I played there last summer. Definitely asphalt on 13 which I agree doesn't look natural, but honestly didn't bother me one bit. The photo comparison and the clearing of the gorse near 14 tee which opens up that beautiful vista looks amazing.
Meanwhile 17, I'm struggling to understand the change. It's such a lovely shot and that false front is much larger than any of these photos suggest.

https://imgur.com/a/hWEgxXQ

Tim Gallant

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2019, 08:41:29 AM »
I do hate to be a negative nelly, but seeing more photos come out of Swinley, I am still so saddened by these changes to the 17th:


https://twitter.com/Top100GolfNomad/status/1150171723087659013


In my mind, they have made it fairer, sure, but it looks much more bland and homogenous now. I could see that hole being at Wentworth, and that is not a flattering comparison. The bunkering doesn't even look good in my mind.


I have seen a few areas around the 8th hole as well, which looks like they softened the drop-off to the right.

I used to think Swinley had the best collection of par-3s in the UK, but sadly, I no longer think that's the case.




David Kelly

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Re: What’s happening at Swinley Forest?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2019, 02:10:08 PM »
I used to think Swinley had the best collection of par-3s in the UK, but sadly, I no longer think that's the case.
Looking at the new pics of 17 all I can think of is,




"Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent." - Judge Holden, Blood Meridian.

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