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Mark Saltzman

  • Karma: +0/-0
In 2008, the 17th at Royal Adelaide Golf Club was a snaking par-5 of 473 metres with a fairway width that mostly measured 20 yards and which topped out at 30 yards.

An aerial of the 2008 hole:

In his 1926 visit to Australia, Alistair Mackenzie visited Royal Adelaide and drew a proposed revised layout plan for the existing golf course.  Mackenzie's 17th hole is reproduced below and called for a pair of centreline bunkers and the use of a small rise in elevation, which lay well out of play in the 2008 version.  

As part of their 2009 Master Plan, Ogilvy Clayton Design, inspired by and attempting to recapture Royal Adelaide's Mackenzie heritage, drew the following proposal for a new 17th hole:

By 2010, the new hole was built.  A 2010 aerial shows the completed version of the hole below.  Note the yellow line, which marks the entire width of the 2008 fairway in the same spot.  The change in width and scale is remarkable as the fairway now measured 105 yards wide and there was some 135 yards of corridor width.  A remarkable change.  I never did get to see the OCD version of the hole, but it's scale and style of bunkering was a radical departure from what existed before and what remains on the rest of the golf course.

The membership must not have been pleased with the results of the 2010 renovation as Tom Doak / Renaissance Golf have since been appointed the Consulting Architect for Royal Adelaide.  Aside from some minor tweaking, including expanded fairway cuts around the green, widened fairways, and removal of superfluous bunkering, Doak's first instruction was to re-work the 17th hole.  Doak and Brian Slawnik have kept the idea of the centreline bunkers, but have considerably shrunk their scale, turning the pair of 'J' shaped bunkers into two pairs of more traditionally shaped and slightly offsetting centreline bunkers.  The hourglass shaped and wildly contoured green has been moved back and to the right and replaced with a gently contoured front to back sloping green with a small kicker at the green's front left.  Of particular curiosity are the trio of back bunkers, which very, very rarely make an appearance in the Australian world of golf course architecture.  Perhaps they are a necessity to protect the 18th from approaches gone astray.

17th Tee:

Centreline bunkers:

Approach from over bunkers:

Green from left:

17th from behind:

« Last Edit: February 25, 2014, 08:17:24 PM by Mark Saltzman »

Tyler Kearns

  • Karma: +0/-0

I'm glad the golf course is making efforts to improve, apart from a few really good holes, it left me feeling a little flat when I played here in 2006.

Perhaps Michael Clayton will comment, but was the 17th hole the only work he did at the club? If so, was the work limited to one hole as a test run for the membership to see if this was the direction they wanted to go? It certainly appeared to be a radical departure from the rest of the course (in terms of width & bunker style) and therefore a bit of a risk. Most members seem to like their home club the way it is and are resistant to change, and even when they opt for a renovation, can have difficulty seeing the big picture being presented to them. I'm positive some of them complained that Mike's new 17th was too easy!!



  • Karma: +0/-0

It was a great lesson for us and in retrospect we should have resisted the club's wish to do the 17th hole first. It was one of 4 or 5 greens they hadn't rebuilt and we thought the new hole would be a real improvement on what was there.
It wasn't sold as a test but obviously is we had our time over we would have done some of the smaller work that would have made a difference without scaring the hell out of the members.
Our plan spoke about the 'spirit' of MacKenzie's drawings and bunkers and it was about recapturing some of the feel of the plan - which we thought had been completely lost in the 80s and 90s - when the club did a lot of work.
Either way the new 17th will be a much better hole than the original hole - the one we replaced.


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