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Sean_A

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2009, 12:03:32 PM »
Sean - Reviewing this thread makes me once again wish more golfers and architects were familiar with Huntercombe. It is an excellent model for how an outstanding course can be constructed on an average piece of property. I can think of dozens of local courses that could use a dose of "Huntercombe-ization."

Whitty

Yes, like the idea of alpinization, I wonder if folks could handle a course looking like Huntercombe.  I fear the subtleties of the course would be lost on many who o wouldn't give it a second/third shot.  Of course, I am not convinced that what people want is subtle design either.  Like Ace's comments about Portstewart's back 9 being boring, golfers just don't have patience or are not willing to look beyond the idea of bunker road maps.

Ciao 
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Tom MacWood

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2009, 01:27:13 PM »
Tony
Supposedly Huntercombe in general was heavily influenced by Musselbourgh.

Does anyone familiar with both courses see any similarities? The greens maybe?

Bill_McBride

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #27 on: August 18, 2009, 02:05:49 PM »
Tony
Supposedly Huntercombe in general was heavily influenced by Musselbourgh.

Does anyone familiar with both courses see any similarities? The greens maybe?

Reading Darwin it seems the 8th at Huntercombe was influenced by (I think) the 6th at Musselbourgh.  But I haven't played either course so that's just old news from Bernardo!

Bill_McBride

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #28 on: August 18, 2009, 02:08:52 PM »
Sean - Reviewing this thread makes me once again wish more golfers and architects were familiar with Huntercombe. It is an excellent model for how an outstanding course can be constructed on an average piece of property. I can think of dozens of local courses that could use a dose of "Huntercombe-ization."

Whitty

Yes, like the idea of alpinization, I wonder if folks could handle a course looking like Huntercombe.  I fear the subtleties of the course would be lost on many who o wouldn't give it a second/third shot.  Of course, I am not convinced that what people want is subtle design either.  Like Ace's comments about Portstewart's back 9 being boring, golfers just don't have patience or are not willing to look beyond the idea of bunker road maps.

Ciao 

Sorry about that.  I don't have personal knowledge of Portstewart's back nine because I had heard it's boring so skipped it in favor of Castlerock!  I wasn't disappointed with that course, and really liked the Valley.  Next time I'll give Portstewart a go.  It's great there are so many solid courses in that area.

And very glad to be able to play Huntercombe this trip!

James Boon

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2009, 03:39:17 AM »
Sean,

Thanks for joining me at Huntercombe and for showing me round. I canít believe that this course isnít better known, or better studied by golf course architects. I found the course very enjoyable, and it was the constant challenge and interest of the greens that means though the course isnít really difficult it certainly keeps you honest!

It was a shame that Philip couldnít join us. But I agree with you that Huntercombe would be a great course to be a member at, so I would only have been jealous!

Is it a top tier course? Iím not sure I can answer that at the moment as Iím still trying to decide the best way to judge courses, especially as Huntercombe seemed such a great course but doesnít show on many top lists of courses in this country when it certainly should feature somewhere? However, its certainly now jumped in as one of my favourites.

Anyway, thanks for updating your thread with the new photos. We have quite a few photos the same, but here are a few more photos that may be of interestÖ

Hole 2
Here is the ridge running down the second hole, with the stunning view as a backdrop. Pity I didnít get any pictures of the red kite that was overhead at the time!


Hole 3
Here is a view of the uphill drive on the third. A great hole this, and along with the previous, probably the main level change across the whole course?


Hole 5
View from behind the fifth hole. The tree in the middle of the fairway that comes into play on the approach shot can be seen.


Hole 6
Here are some detail pictures of the hollows along this hole.




Hole 8
Another hollow in play with your tee shot.

Hereís another view from the left of the eighth green showing the level change. The tier on the fourth hole must be about 4 ft high while this one is probably 5 ft high?


Hole 11
This is one of the hollows to the left of the fairway, with a hollow more in play on the twelfth just behind it.


Hole 13
A closer view of the green and its various tiers.


Hole 14
They donít show up great, but this is a series of hollows that run perpendicular to the hole, about 3 in a row, with a larger one just behind that. A bit like Oakmontís Church Pews but without the sand?


Hole 15
A view of this green from the left, showing the various hollows and contours of the green.


Following these a few observations.

You can see that Iíve taken plenty of photos of hollows, though there are only a few bunkers on the course.

Have any of these hollows ever been bunkers? Many look to me as though they could have been? Others like the larger ones on the eighth shown above, or in the thirteenth fairway, seem so large and deep itís as though they are craters left behind after bombs being dropped in the area during the second world war? Does anyone know the history of these?

On aesthetic grounds, the one thing I canít stand is all these topiary style bushes, be it gorse or hawthorn or whatever. If its in view between the tee and the green, as there are a few on the first and tenth and you want people to see the hole, cut them all out, otherwise just let them grow and trim them back a bit occasionally, but the topiary style trimming is just a distraction!

Also, the eighteenth green is much flatter than many of the others? Another case of a large flat green on the last to give anyone a chance of holing a long putt at the death?

Thanks again Sean!

Cheers,

James

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Giles Payne

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2009, 09:24:36 AM »
I, like Philip, am a member at Huntercombe so it is really difficult to be purely objective.

I always find the course a strong challenge to all parts of my game and I think that this is what makes it a charming course. You can't just pick up a club and blast it off the tee - it is a course you cannot just over power. You ideally need to be able to play all types of shot, and the combination of the wind and the trees can make for some tricky club selections. One thing that I notice about a lot of the older members is that they have very sharp short games. The greens are not always easy to find which puts premium on being able to get up and down and putting well. Even if you do find the greens, there are plenty of opportunities for 3 puts if you are in the wrong place.

Interestingly, a friend, who is also a member of the Berkshire, is finding that he is gradually playing more at Huntercombe and less at the Berkshire out of choice.

I have been a member for some time and I have never felt that I have played a really complete round of golf - one of the holes always seems to get me. For this reason, I don't think that I will ever get bored playing there.

Brent Hutto

Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2009, 09:39:19 AM »
My one visit to Huntercombe ended up as Giles describes it. I played twice, once before lunch and again the afternoon. I was cruising along scoring quite well by my standards until a few wasted strokes toward the middle of the round (sorry, can't remember which particular holes) derailed my good round. So after lunch I was resolved to do better on those problem holes and sure enough, I was able to save bogeys in the places where I had big numbers in the morning. But there were about three of the final seven or eight holes that reached up and bit me instead. I actually scored a couple strokes worse the second time around.

And I don't think any of my double-bogey-or-worse scores were on a hole I walked away from thinking "Man, what a hard hole". Huntercombe seems to pick this bogey golfer's pocket very politely but quite surely. No lost golf balls or unplayable lies or severely sloping greens guaranteeing 3-putts. Just a stroke here and two there if you don't stay in proper position. In particular, when the rough is on the thick side you can be not that far off-line from the smallish greens and have virtually no chance of getting down in two.

Huntercombe is very high up the list of courses I've visited for a day and wished ever since it had been a week.

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2009, 07:43:34 AM »
As an undergraduate at Oxford I got to play at Huntercombe and Frilford only occasionally - you had to know someone who had a car to get to either. I was a much better player then than I am now, but I never had a decent medal score at Huntercombe. The slightest slip around the greens and lots of strokes would be lost. Frilford Red and Green courses didn't seem to have that cruel streak and I probably prefered them for that reason, and I liked the open nature of the land. I played Huntercombe for the first time for many years earlier this year. It really showed up how poor my golf has become! But I enjoyed the course so much despite its brutality.

Southfield (Colt) in Oxford itself was our home course. It is very urban and not very pretty, but when I revisited it about twenty years ago I was reminded what a good test of golf it is. As at Huntercombe, the flat holes make good use of man-made mounds and hollows. I must go back before I finally give up.

Sean_A

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #33 on: August 26, 2009, 04:32:13 AM »
As an undergraduate at Oxford I got to play at Huntercombe and Frilford only occasionally - you had to know someone who had a car to get to either. I was a much better player then than I am now, but I never had a decent medal score at Huntercombe. The slightest slip around the greens and lots of strokes would be lost. Frilford Red and Green courses didn't seem to have that cruel streak and I probably prefered them for that reason, and I liked the open nature of the land. I played Huntercombe for the first time for many years earlier this year. It really showed up how poor my golf has become! But I enjoyed the course so much despite its brutality.

Southfield (Colt) in Oxford itself was our home course. It is very urban and not very pretty, but when I revisited it about twenty years ago I was reminded what a good test of golf it is. As at Huntercombe, the flat holes make good use of man-made mounds and hollows. I must go back before I finally give up.

Mark

I am very surprised to read your comment "brutality".  That is about the last word I would use to describe Huntercombe.  Which aspects of the course cause you to be brutalized?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Martin Toal

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2009, 03:18:58 PM »
I played at Huntercombe today in a society outing. overall, I thought it was quite an interesting course, but one where local knowledge helps a great deal. Some of the green features can't really be understood until you have played at least once, and some of the slopes are quite significant. The large number of hollows is a notable feature, along with the very small number of bunkers.

Sean_A

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2010, 12:25:46 PM »
The 2010/11 Winter Tour of England & Wales continued recently with a stop at Huntercombe.  Some of the pix are updated, though I continue to believe that trees are holding Huntercombe back from the limelight it deserves. 

Other stops on the Tour.

Reddish Vale  http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,46177.0/

Beau Desert  http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30965.0/

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

JNC Lyon

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2010, 02:09:23 PM »
Thanks Sean.  This course was truly one of my favorites from my trip to London, mainly because of the way it uses land and contours as hazards and determinants of play.  One of my favorite holes there is the 17th.  After 16 greens that are mostly low-profile, the 17th green sticks up out of the ground to create a ticklish approach on a very short par four.  Somehow, though, the hole retains the spirit of the rest of the course, and it is a very cool penultimate hole.  Why don't more architects build holes like the 17th and courses like Huntercombe today?
"That's why Oscar can't see that!" - Philip E. "Timmy" Thomas

Sean_A

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2010, 04:34:44 AM »
Thanks Sean.  This course was truly one of my favorites from my trip to London, mainly because of the way it uses land and contours as hazards and determinants of play.  One of my favorite holes there is the 17th.  After 16 greens that are mostly low-profile, the 17th green sticks up out of the ground to create a ticklish approach on a very short par four.  Somehow, though, the hole retains the spirit of the rest of the course, and it is a very cool penultimate hole.  Why don't more architects build holes like the 17th and courses like Huntercombe today?

John

I don't think the 17th is an unusual hole generally speaking, its just so at Huntercombe. 

I suspect the grade level style of Huntercombe wouldn't be all that appealing to many golfers looking for bold, obvious, modern style architecture.  Just listen to the archies and tree house on this site.  Most want in your face architecture with rippling greens and frilly bunkers.  Given the lay of the land I think Park Jr nailed Huntercombe perfectly, a lot of subtle architecture with intermittent shock moments that aren't obvious until walking away from the green.  For sure Huntercombe is one of the most overlooked courses that I know of and the odd thing is even if one isn't enamoured with the course it still merits serious consideration for its unusual style. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Bill_McBride

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2010, 11:18:41 AM »
It's like playing golf in a museum, but in a very good way. From the first hole on, with its front to back slope and a big spine down the middle, through 2, 3 and 4 with their wild slopes and tiers, the getaway at Huntercombe sets one up for a day of fun on a course which no architect would build today. Too bad because it is such an entertaining course.

Brent Hutto

Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course?
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2010, 11:21:49 AM »
The thing I like best about Huntercombe is its reminder of just how little apparent "work" must be done to a piece of slightly rolling property in order to create a fun and fascinating round of golf. For all my love of plateau greensites and big, bold, sweeping curves a day at Huntercombe is the quintessential walk in the countryside punctuated by an amazing variety of golf shot opportunities. I'll bet creating a course like Huntercombe is harder than it seems!

Sean_A

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #40 on: November 26, 2010, 02:36:56 PM »
I can't help but to return again and again to Huntercombe.  It draws me in like few other courses can as its such a pleasure to play.  We stopped in today for another game and I updated some pix and my overall impression of the course has gone up another notch.  

http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,46177.0/  Reddish Vale

http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30965.0/  Beau Desert

http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,46538.0/  Coxmoor

http://golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,43021.0/  Southfield

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 07, 2010, 03:41:43 AM by Sean Arble »
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Giles Payne

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #41 on: November 30, 2010, 10:51:01 AM »
Sean

I am glad you had another good day - last time I was up the course was still in good nick and the greens were surprisingly fast, even though it has suddenly become distinctly wintery conditions.

Let me know when you are around and intend to play - it would be great to have a round with you.

Giles

TEPaul

Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #42 on: November 30, 2010, 11:03:32 AM »
Even though I have never seen either Sunningdale or Huntercombe, it has long been my certain sense that those two courses are far more the watershed event in the history and evolution of INLAND golf architecture than many to most realize. I do not believe for a moment that that fact escaped any of the early American architects who went abroad to study golf architecture in preparation for their projects over here, particularly inland.

Bill_McBride

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #43 on: November 30, 2010, 11:40:23 AM »
Even though I have never seen either Sunningdale or Huntercombe, it has long been my certain sense that those two courses are far more the watershed event in the history and evolution of INLAND golf architecture than many to most realize. I do not believe for a moment that that fact escaped any of the early American architects who went abroad to study golf architecture in preparation for their projects over here, particularly inland.

Playing Huntercombe is like a lesson in the history of early golf architecture.  All the greens save #17 are at absolute fairway grade level, and all but #17 can be approached along the ground.  The second through fourth greens, and the 8th as well, are wild tiered affairs, with 2, 3, and 4 side by side rather than front and back tiers.  It is truly an exciting course to play with regard to the greens.

Michael Whitaker

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #44 on: November 30, 2010, 05:08:10 PM »
I've said it before... Huntercombe is one course that EVERY GCA should be required to visit. The design features found on this course could be replicated with a small budget almost anywhere in the world. It is a true classic, and as much fun as any course I have ever played.

Why, oh why, have more courses like Huntercombe not been built over the years? It never fails to please.
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Kris Shreiner

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #45 on: December 01, 2010, 12:26:03 AM »
Sean,

Great pics and comments on Huntercombe. My God man, they need to get the chain saws going on that property! Choked is a word that comes to mind viewing a few of those holes. Are trees that sacred there, or is it thrift that prevents the course from seeing a better presentation? The bones look great. As others have alluded to, the subtle nature of the course features is intriguing.

Does the course get heavy play? Thanks again for a stimulating thread. Others seem to rate it highly, just as you do!

Cheers 8),
Kris
"I said in a talk at the Dunhill Tournament in St. Andrews a few years back that I thought any of the caddies I'd had that week would probably make a good golf course architect. We all want to ask golfers of all abilities to get more out of their games -caddies do that for a living." T.Doak

Bill_McBride

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #46 on: December 01, 2010, 10:32:32 AM »
Sean,

Great pics and comments on Huntercombe. My God man, they need to get the chain saws going on that property! Choked is a word that comes to mind viewing a few of those holes. Are trees that sacred there, or is it thrift that prevents the course from seeing a better presentation? The bones look great. As others have alluded to, the subtle nature of the course features is intriguing.

Does the course get heavy play? Thanks again for a stimulating thread. Others seem to rate it highly, just as you do!

Cheers 8),
Kris

Kris, I played there last year and have to say, the course doesn't feel closed in by tree lines at all.  You walk from green to tee through some lovely wooded areas, but the holes are plenty wide enough.

Mark Pearce

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #47 on: December 01, 2010, 10:42:17 AM »
5 is a bit tight and that stupid tree in the middle of the fairway should go.  18 feels tight too, with my "strong draw" but the rest of the course doesn't feel unduly tight to me.  That's not to say I wouldn't get rid of some trees, though.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Michael Whitaker

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #48 on: December 01, 2010, 04:41:11 PM »
5 is a bit tight and that stupid tree in the middle of the fairway should go.  18 feels tight too, with my "strong draw" but the rest of the course doesn't feel unduly tight to me.  That's not to say I wouldn't get rid of some trees, though.

Agree, Mark... some tree clearing would be a good thing to open up the views between holes and allow the wind to have more effect.

Are there any other courses in England that you would think comparable to Huntercombe? I haven't played that many, but it seems very unique to me.
"Solving the paradox of proportionality is the heart of golf architecture."  - Tom Doak (11/20/05)

Scott Warren

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Re: HUNTERCOMBE: A 1st Tier Course? (Winter Tour 2010/11)
« Reply #49 on: December 01, 2010, 05:32:32 PM »
For mine the tree clearing would only really enhance playability on a couple of holes, but the vistas would be enhanced so much.

Clearing of trees from behind the first green would open up a great long view and would make distance perception much tougher.

Trees short/right of the 3rd green if removed or thinned would be better for the turf there, which looked like it struggled in that dark corner.

Trees removed on the inside of the dogleg at #5 might actually make the tree in the fairway more popular, as the brave could take on the shot of going to the right and flirting with the crap.

To the right of the 6th, as Sean said, but until they tunnel that road...

Around the 7th... it doesn't really affect the shot, but that space if it were opened up would allow the great features around the green to shine. Imagine 13 at Worplesdon if the bunkring was surrounded by trees and trees down the chute blocked the view of it - the hole would be diminished. I think it's a similar story here.

From 8 onwards I don't really see any playability issues as such, but in and around the hub where 6 green, 7 tee, 14 green, 15 tee, 17 green and 18 tee are all located, it would be great to have some open views where you can see play on the other holes.

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