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Mark_Rowlinson

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2012, 06:04:33 AM »
10.   382 yards par 4



Can you clear the bunkers or can you find the narrow strip of fairway to the right of them without crashing into a tree?



Those bunkers stretch for 50 yards, demanding a carry of 270 yards or more to clear them from the back tee.




The slightly uphill approach is extensively bunkered.

11.   222 yards par 3




The trees are ridiculous here obscuring much of the wide green there is even a third bunker completely invisible further right! Perhaps the trees were planted to try to protect the 17th tee which is located within them.

12.   512 yards par 5



The tee shot is played across the previous green to a narrow fairway lined by trees all the way to the green.



For more than 200 yards this trench bunker gradually encroaches into the fairway from the right. It was formerly reputed to be the longest bunker in the country, but it is now split into shorter sections, presumably to enable trolleys to cross it.



This photo shows how the Merionesque stuff is maintained all around bunkers and greens. In fact on several instances it prevented my ball from running into bunkers. Surely bunkers should be all-gathering?

13.   181 yards par 3



Again trees obscure the right hand portion of the green.



That pin position was very difficult to access, with the ditch running hard across the front of the putting surface. The green is wide but only 19 yards deep.

14.   405 yards par 4



You have to keep right of those bunkers (which like so many at Blackwell are set into the rough, not the mown fairway, but if you keep too well to the right your second shot may be blocked out by an intruding tree.




Not only must the tree be avoided but also another ditch crossing at that point.



The green is raised, well protected by surrounding bunkers and mounds and features a multi-contoured putting surface.

15.   392 yards par 4




From the tee there is no view of the bunkers lurking in wait on the right of the fairway as it curves that way.




The fairway begins to climb past those bunkers making the second shot seem longer than its yardage might suggest.



The putting surface is well contoured and chipping from off the green demands great control.

16.   462 yards par 4



From the tee of this very long two-shotter not everything is revealed. It would seem that the principal threat is trees on either hand.



These bunkers also lie in wait at 228 and 250 yards from the tee.



These bunkers await those who cannot get home in two shots. Additionally, there is a slight false front to the green.

17.   322 yards par 4



The tee shot is downhill towards two well-placed bunkers.



Then it is quite sharply uphill over a ridged fairway to reach the green. Trees encroaching on the left may well cut out the second shots of those who tried to cut the corner of the dog-leg.



It is an attractively located green.

18.   365 yards par 4



From the tee you cannot see much of what lies in store.



Farther along the fairway it becomes clear that the better line is not along the left of the fairway where the trees may completely obscure the green from view.



The green is beautifully located right beside the clubhouse with that big, grabbing bunker prominently in view. The putting surface is cleverly contoured and at 26 yards long and very narrow from side to side it is no easy target. All in all a lovely course with some great holes, but often compromised by trees and that strange mowing practice.

Chris Clouser

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2012, 09:51:22 AM »
Sean,

Excellent post.  I am beginning why anyone from England would ever come over to the US to play golf unless it was for someplace special like Pine Valley, Cypress, or Augusta.  Otherwise you seem to have so much more variety, charm, and all of the other qualities that golf should be really about.


John Mayhugh

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2012, 10:40:33 PM »
Nice seeing this one again. That clubhouse setting is perfection.

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #28 on: August 25, 2013, 03:46:12 PM »
I recently got appointed by Blackwell to help them in the multi year restoration process of their Simpson/Fowler course.

Just wanted to post some stuff here that you might find interesting such as old course pics, aerial pics, maps and drawings

First here is an aerial picture from the 1940's which hangs in the clubhouse



Compare that with a current aerial



It is clear that there were virtually no trees at that point, that the fairways were very wide and that the bunkers still mostly had the Simpson styled lace edges.

Here is a picture taken from the clubhouse of the ninth green and the third fairway showing the style of the bunkering that Simpson and Fowler used



Here are some well known sketches that Simpson did on the bunkering for the course


Green 10


Green 11


Green 16

A map of the 1960's shows that at that point a number of changes had already happened, especially tree planting




Some work has already happened in house on holes 5 and 6


The bunkers were modelled more according to the pictures that were available of the bunkers during the 30's than on the sketches of Simpson, which were busier than what was actually built on the ground.

First hole 6, a beautiful short/medium legth downhill par 3 hole. Here are three pics of how the hole looked before.







And here pictures of the hole as it is now. There is still the large bunker in front of the green (see old aerial) that will need to go in, but that will probably happen this winter.








Hole 5 is a short dogleg right par 4 where a lot of the strategy was lost due to tree planting in the inside corner.

Here is the green before the bunkers were changed.



And here is how it looks now










Thomas Dai

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #29 on: August 25, 2013, 04:08:29 PM »
Frank,

Firstly, congratulations in securing the restoration work. I already rate Blackwell, which forms one of a ring of fine courses around Birmingham and is not that far from me, highly and look forward to playing it some more and seeing your restoration work progress. A Simpson/Fowler gem IMO. Most definitely worth playing if anyone reading here is in the South Birmingham area. The old photo looking across the 9th green from the clubhouse is a cracker, the player sitting on the green is rather amusing, and I recall there are many other wonderful old photos displayed in the lovely old clubhouse. Thanks for posting and good luck with the work.

All the best.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2013, 05:48:07 PM »
Frank,

Just so I understand.

Was that bunker work in the "after" photos of 5 & 6 done by your team or done in-house?

Congrats on the appointment,
Ally

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2013, 09:09:12 AM »
Frank,

Just so I understand.

Was that bunker work in the "after" photos of 5 & 6 done by your team or done in-house?

Congrats on the appointment,
Ally

It was done completely in-house by the course manager and his guys using their own digger and hand work.

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Redux
« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2013, 09:33:48 AM »
Frank,

Just so I understand.

Was that bunker work in the "after" photos of 5 & 6 done by your team or done in-house?

Congrats on the appointment,
Ally

It was done completely in-house by the course manager and his guys using their own digger and hand work.


Thanks Frank - After your appointment though? I think I misunderstood your post above... Thought you had been brought in after the "after" photos of 5 & 6

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #33 on: August 28, 2013, 04:10:00 AM »
Ally,

the appointment process was quite lengthy (the club was also considering other well known architects), which meant that I visited the club several times during that period (which was easy since I had just been appointed at nearby Copt Heath).

During one of these early visits the club asked me what I thought of their bunker shapes, at which I answered that I would restore them back to the original Simpson lace edge shapes. The club then proceeded to do just that with two holes (5,6) where the green side bunkers had to be renovated anyways. I gave the course manager some guidance on how best to do the work before he started and also gave him feedback on the work on a subsequent visit, but he and his crew did all the work in-house.

Although I think the guys did an excellent job and I am very pleased with the results so far, I will be much more directly involved in subsequent bunker works, which I think will lead to an even more refined end product.


Thomas Dai

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #34 on: August 28, 2013, 05:29:11 AM »
Frank, that's good news that you're also doing some work at Copt Heath as well. Another south Birmingham (UK) course I like playing, although I've always thought it a little over-maintained in places, a bit too open in places, especially on the back-9. It would be nice to see more gorse and heather there. I'm sure it was prevalent once upon a time.
All the best.

Michael Wharton-Palmer

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #35 on: August 28, 2013, 11:40:16 AM »
Very interesting posts.
As a memebr of Copt Heath during my teenage years I would love to see some phots of any changes done there.
I love the new bunkering at Blackwell a course with fond memeories for me as I won the prestigious Midland Boys titke there back in 1980 I think it was, so I have my name permanantly on the wall in the clubhouse, which is always a thrill.
Those new bunkers look so much better, very nice job.

Sean_A

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2014, 02:38:09 PM »
Well Frank - what gives?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2014, 03:02:54 PM »
Well Frank - what gives?

Ciao

Sean,

I just finished the Master Plan for the course, using the old aerial from the 40's and an old course book from the 20's a member found in his attic. Its still under discussion so I cannot say too much, other than that we will be restoring the old bunker shapes, sizes and locations on many holes.  Also we will be taking a close look at the many trees that now are blocking strategic shots on the course.... In general many of the dramatic bunkers that were on the course such as 2, 3/8, 10 and 11 will be restored. Also a big effort will be made to extend the short grass areas around the greens wherever possible.

In terms of concrete works for this year, we are starting bunker work on:

- the right fw bunker on 1
- the left green bunker on 2
- the right green bunker on 3
- the first left fw bunker on 10
- the right green bunkers on 13
- the left fw bunker on 12

These bunkers are singled out because they have Sportscrete in them, which has not been a success, and they need to be redone soon.


Thomas Dai

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2014, 05:04:20 PM »

These bunkers are singled out because they have Sportscrete in them, which has not been a success, and they need to be redone soon.


Frank,

Thanks for the update.

I like the Blackwell course so it's nice to hear how things are developing.

A couple of questions if I may -

Why do Blackwell consider the Sportscrete to have been unsuccessful?

What is being done with the Sportscrete waste/spoil?

What sort of base will the bunkers be re-done with?

atb

PS - how has your work just up the M42 at Copt Heath been progressing? Maybe an update on the C-H photo-tour thread? - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,44836.0.html

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC:Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2014, 01:40:37 AM »

These bunkers are singled out because they have Sportscrete in them, which has not been a success, and they need to be redone soon.


Frank,

Thanks for the update.

I like the Blackwell course so it's nice to hear how things are developing.

A couple of questions if I may -

Why do Blackwell consider the Sportscrete to have been unsuccessful?

What is being done with the Sportscrete waste/spoil?

What sort of base will the bunkers be re-done with?

atb

PS - how has your work just up the M42 at Copt Heath been progressing? Maybe an update on the C-H photo-tour thread? - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,44836.0.html

The Sportscrete has been falling apart in the bunker, giving a lot of stones in the sand, a problem it ironically was first used for to solve. Not sure why, maybe the application wasn't done in the right way, or the product just doesn't work, I have seen similar problems at other clubs, and. I think the company has folded because of these problems....

Plan now is to excavate the sportscrete out of the affected bunkers, and then replace it with a system similar to the one we have used at Copt Heath to stop stones from coming up. The CH system is granite grit in the bottom, which stops stones coming up because it is heavy, and then either liner or sods in the faces.

The bunkers at CH have done very well, both in playability and in reducing maintenance due to much less washouts last winter, even though it was one of the wettest winters in history.

« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 04:29:01 AM by Frank Pont »

Thomas Dai

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #40 on: April 23, 2014, 11:13:08 AM »
Thanks for these updates Frank. I look forward to playing both Blackwell and Copt Heath once again.
atb

Sean_A

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2014, 08:10:36 AM »
Also a big effort will be made to extend the short grass areas around the greens wherever possible.

Cha-ching.  This is easily Blackwell's biggest issue in terms of pure playability.  Absolutely one of worst courses I have come across in terms of cut lines. 

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Sean_A

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #42 on: February 09, 2015, 05:53:50 PM »
Well Frank, what gives?  People need to know the score.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Michael Wharton-Palmer

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: Change is on the Horizon
« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2015, 08:52:18 AM »
I am interested in any cahnges or uopdates also Frank, hope all is well.
What other projects across the channel are also in the works?

Sean_A

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference 20 Months Can Make! New
« Reply #44 on: May 16, 2015, 05:32:05 AM »
I finally made it back to Blackwell to see some of the progress.  I have to say, while to many looking at photos the difference may seem subtle, but the aggregate of widened fairways and tree/vegetation removal is a remarkable transformation.  Don't get me wrong, the club has a long, very long way to go to fully recapature the grandeur of the Fowler/Simpson design, but the headway made thus far in this 5 year plan is striking.   

The bunkers?  I am not sure about them.  The course and club is a simple affair and I wonder if well done grass-over faces aren't a better look, especially given the parkland setting. 

I any case, many kudos to the club and Frank. 

See the updated tour on page 1 and watch this space.

Ciao
« Last Edit: February 08, 2020, 07:54:44 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2023: Clyne

Thomas Dai

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference 20 Months Can Make!
« Reply #45 on: May 16, 2015, 11:35:59 AM »
Thanks for the update Sean. I'm Blackwell fan, plenty of fine holes with some splendid green complexes, but I have always sensed something was somehow missing or has been lost over the years so it's nice to read your encouraging comments as to how things are moving ahead. Another visit beckons. A club with a small membership, intentionally so I believe.

For the benefit of those who may be interested, I believe there is an annual 3-round open competition comprising 1 round each on consecutive days at Blackwell, Little Aston and Beau Desert. Quite a yummy combination.

atb
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 11:43:36 AM by Thomas Dai »

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference 20 Months Can Make!
« Reply #46 on: May 17, 2015, 02:02:44 PM »
I finally made it back to Blackwell to see some of the progress.  I have to say, while to many looking at photos the difference may seem subtle, but I can assure the aggregate of widened fairways and tree/vegetation removal is a remarkable transformation.  Don't get me wrong, the club has a long, very long way to go to fully recapature the grandeur of the Fowler/Simpson design, but the headway made thus far in this 5 year plan is striking.  

The bunkers?  I am not sure about them.  The course and club is a simple affair and I wonder if well done grass-over faces aren't a better look, especially given the parkland setting.  

I any case, many kudos to the club and Frank.  

See the updated tour on page 1 ad watch this space.

Ciao

Sean, glad that you liked what you saw, we are indeed in the early stages of what we want to achieve in terms of wider corridors, wider fairways, returning the original strategy, more short grass around the greens and restoring the original green sizes. But the club and the greens staff are keen to continue this work over the coming years on the remaining holes.

In terms of bunkers I can understand your taste for a simple style. However I am a simple person when it comes to restoring classic courses in that I look at the oldest pics I can get to get a feel for the bunker style that the original archie used, and then try to emulate that as best as possible. In the case of Blackwell we have 1926 (!!!) pics which show the style right after Simpson left, so it does not come much better than that.

I show some of these below:


Hole 6


Hole 18


Hole 14


Looking over green 4 to hole 5


Hole 9


Only restraint we have is that because they have such a stone problem, the club has decided to use the same system we used at Copt Heath, namely bunker mat liner on the faces and crushed granite on the bottom. The liner somewhat limits the shapes you can do with the bunker edges, and also makes the edges cleaner in the short term than they will be longer term, but overall I am happy with the end results so far, especially given that all the work has been done in-house by course manager Rhys and his team.

« Last Edit: May 17, 2015, 02:18:13 PM by Frank Pont »

Thomas Dai

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference 20 Months Can Make!
« Reply #47 on: May 17, 2015, 03:46:09 PM »
Fine old photos Frank. Thanks for posting.

A couple of initial observations -

There were numerous bunkers all the way across in front of the par-3 6th green in 1926 that have not been 'restored'. Any particular rreason?

Per the various old photos, the 1960's plan and a quick look at Bings satmap, it appears that the pond on the par-3 9th hole was expanded considerably sometime in the last few decades for the hole is now played over the pond rather than to the left side of it as it once was.

atb

Jud_T

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference 20 Months Can Make!
« Reply #48 on: May 17, 2015, 09:14:21 PM »
That original bunkering on 6 looks amazing.
Golf is a game. We play it. Somewhere along the way we took the fun out of it and charged a premium to be punished.- - Ron Sirak

Frank Pont

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Re: BLACKWELL GC: What a Difference 20 Months Can Make!
« Reply #49 on: May 18, 2015, 03:38:24 AM »
Fine old photos Frank. Thanks for posting.

A couple of initial observations -

There were numerous bunkers all the way across in front of the par-3 6th green in 1926 that have not been 'restored'. Any particular rreason?

Per the various old photos, the 1960's plan and a quick look at Bings satmap, it appears that the pond on the par-3 9th hole was expanded considerably sometime in the last few decades for the hole is now played over the pond rather than to the left side of it as it once was.

atb

Thomas,

We will still restore the missing cross bunker in front of hole 6 in the near future. I advocated for doing it when we restored the bunkers on hole 6 two years ago, since the existing depression for me clearly indicated a bunker must have been there, but at the time we had no hard historical evidence. These 1926 pics which we found afterwards and an 1946 aerial pic clearly proved the point since then. The bunker was probably taken out when the ladies tee was lengthened and the ladies found it hard to carry the bunker.....

On hole 9 you are very right, indeed the pond was expanded, in my view unfortunately. I think the old situation had more interesting pin positions on the front part of the green that was lost and provided more opportunities to play bump and run from the left. A water hole is very very unusual for Simpson/Fowler, and the old situation had water, but a lot less in play. It does not look like we will be able to restore the old situation, too costly, so we will have to find other ways to make the bump and run shot via the left viable, eg through different mowing lines.

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