Courtesy of John Beaumont we are treated to the story of the Bradford Golf Club, a little known Fowler design outside of Leeds in Yorkshire.
The story is a quite interesting one. According to John, a seven hole course was laid out on Baildon Moor by Mr. R. Hutchison in 1891. Two more holes were added the following year and then Old Tom Morris soon followed with an additional nine. A better location was acquired in 1898 and head golf professional W.C. Gaudin helped the members lay out an eighteen hole course. That effort sustained the club until 1922 when Herbert Fowler of Fowler & Simpson was called in to overhaul it. An intriguing aspect is John’s notation that Colt and MacKenzie each offered advice to the club in 1919 but for whatever reasons, their plans were not implemented!
John deftly describes Gaudin’s original course and his nine greens that Fowler incorporated into the final rework. John points out that working within the framework of the existing course posed distinct challenges for Fowler. To no one’s surprise, Fowler made the most of the situation. For instance, he better incorporated the two knolls Birkin Hill and Greenhouse Hill into the new design. Bradford seems rife with Fowler character, namely it requires good golf without being contrived. That’s my big kick now – courses that snuggle into the landscape void of fussy design features. Tangentially, that’s why I am such of fan of this web site’s recently profiled courses including Desert Forest, Cabot and We-Ko-Pa.
By 1922 Fowler had become a colossus both literally and figuratively. His work at Walton Heath some twenty years earlier had cemented his status as a lead architect during Britain’s great golf expansion and he had just completed his magic at Eastward Ho!, the 18th at Pebble Beach and Los Angeles CC. Bernard Darwin had many kind words for his work.
This is John Beaumont’s third In My Opinion piece and another fascinating story told uncommonly well. While I am admittedly biased as England is my favorite country for golf, I must say that his previous entries (Reflections on Ganton and Reflections from England) are among the finest reads on the entire website. A trained lawyer, John is a published author on topics ranging from the law to Catholicism. He is presently putting the finishing touches on a book about American converts to the Catholic Church. This will be a companion piece to his 2010 publication, ‘Roads to Rome’. Both are substantial ~700 page tomes.
It is such a delight to enjoy professional-grade writing and learn more about a lesser known design by one of the all-time greats. Hopefully, you will relish this submission and join me in urging John Beaumont to be a more frequent contributor.