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Sean_A

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Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« on: August 31, 2021, 06:41:13 AM »


This 1933 map is essentially the same as the course is today.


Suffolk can boast of three golfing doyens; The Sacred 9, Purdis Heath and Aldeburgh.  All are immensely respected clubs and courses which regularly feature on best of lists, but it is Aldeburgh which is the focus of this tour. Founded in 1884, Aldeburgh has a messy design history that involves mainly three men; Willie Park Jr, JH Taylor and HS Colt. Some use the mysterious term ďmaritime heathlandĒ to describe the course, a label sometimes given to Ganton in far off Yorkshire.  Located on the edge of the delightful town of the same name, an uncommon strip of heathland separates the course from the Alde Estuary.  There is a most pleasant sense of the sea when playing the course.

Card of the course immediately prior to the 1922 Colt/Alison work.


1921 Alison letter to the club.


A traditional two-ball, long sock, dog and dog bowls club, Aldeburgh is bereft of par 5s. Thus, the par of 68 is a severe examination. However, I was pleasantly surprised when walking to the pro shop to find the 10th fairway quite generous. Not quite believing my eyes, I asked the gentlemen teeing off if the entire course was this wide. My suspicious nature was happily corrected. I was led to believe, by many an intrepid golfer, that Aldeburgh is mercilessly long and very tightly guarded with gorse. There is gorse and plenty of it, but there is space to enjoy the game and just as important, the width allowed the bunkers to be meaningful.

Donning my new long socks, we headed for the tee of the very attractive opener, designed by Willie Park Jr in 1907.  As was the case for many of the holes, JH Taylor added bunkers a few years later. 


The left greenside bunker was removed to great effect in 2008.


Heading back toward the house, the down and up second has had its tee pushed further and further back over the years, making for a dreadful green to tee transition. The hole plays fine from the forward tee.


Another Park Jr hole, the demanding and intimidating dogleg left 3rd is the first of eight par 4s over 400 yards. I have to believe such a focus on demanding 4s has had a negative impact on hole variety.  The newish bunker shown in the photo is not visually up to par with many others, however, the green offers plenty of interest.


Perhaps Aldeburgh's best hole and certainly superior to Brancaster's Short (also #4). The combination of terror, beauty and interest is Park Jr at his finest.






More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 12:43:41 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Thomas Dai

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-4
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2021, 07:12:35 AM »
Thatís some hole position way, way right in the first photo of the par-3 4th!
Par 68 with 8 par-4ís over 400 yds. An interesting combination.
Looking forward to seeing more.
Atb

Sean_A

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-4
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2021, 04:23:49 AM »
Thatís some hole position way, way right in the first photo of the par-3 4th!
Par 68 with 8 par-4ís over 400 yds. An interesting combination.
Looking forward to seeing more.
Atb

I assumed the green fed to that location. It does come close, but there is a ridge blocking access. I would like to see a shot finishing in kick in range. It's a very cool hole.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Niall C

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-4
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2021, 10:44:56 AM »
Sean

Great stuff. I've been looking forward to this tour. However in terms of GCA input, the club history book suggests the following;

1884 - original 18 hole layout designed by John Thompson and Willie Fernie

1908 - redesign with 8 new holes by JH Taylor and Willie Park Jnr

1910 - JH Taylor back to offer advice on bunkering

1920's - book is a bit vague, but HS Colt and CH Alison redesigned course retaining the routing of at least 7 or 8 holes and maybe more.

1949 - CH Alison back to offer advice on changing length of 2nd hole. Advice not taken !

c.1970 - Hawtree and Son design nine hole River course.

Niall

Sean_A

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-4
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2021, 09:58:09 AM »
Niall

Thanks.

Aldeburgh Tour Cont

A Colt/Alison hole with Taylor bunkers, the fifth comes in the guise of a straight, long par 4.  No real surprises here! 




A Colt/Alison hole, playing contrarily downwind made the 6th a very difficult green to hold, despite being uphill. Colt sketch.  K Moodie created the lovely left greenside swale.


The 7th is an orginal hole with new tees added over 110 years ago.


Still downhill, the 8th is a decent short hole who's genesis lies with Park Jr's 1907 work. 


The attractive 9th is from the hand of Park Jr with modern bunkers in place.


Another good looking hole, the long 10th features JH Taylor cross bunkers.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 12:44:51 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-10
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2021, 04:47:56 PM »
Great pics thx and more than you usually provide.  I wonder if there will be less to follow as after this I started to realise there's a lot of slogging to be done.


 ;D
Let's make GCA grate again!

Sean_A

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-10
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2021, 11:42:57 AM »
Aldeburgh Tour Cont

The back nine is a better mix of holes than the front, but the 11th is another banger hole.  Not without interest, the gathering green helps a long running approach. The real issue is the crossing bunkers.


A bit obscured from the tee, the short two-shot 12th gets interesting when on the green.  The approach is also obscured if one lays too far back. It is thought this is the oldest complete hole on the course.




More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 12:45:36 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-12
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2021, 05:07:56 PM »
Tee hee I'm sure you meant to include a picture of the hose above?


Also if the short 4 at Woodbridge needs some interest off the tee, this one surely does? Interesting green.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Sean_A

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-12
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2021, 07:17:34 AM »
Aldeburgh Tour Cont

The 13th takes us into a more parkland corner of the property which may suggest it is newer, but no, this hole dates back to 1893. The green was probably moved at some point and K Moodie did some work around the green circa 2009.


More heavily treed than most holes, the 14th is a 1922 Colt/Alison creation which legs left to a modern looking green.  It isn't surprising this area was identified for a hole because the terrain is humpty bumpty.


Sketch of the green which is fairly accurate to what exists today.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 12:46:15 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC 1-14
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2021, 07:06:22 AM »
Aldeburgh Tour Cont

Moving back to a more heathland part of the course, the 15th is cracking short hole cobbled together by Colt using an existing green. At about 200 yards with a large undulating green, club selection is paramount. It is easy to hit a decent tee shot and end up with a kiss on the card.




Another hole pieced together by several architects. While a long par 4, the 16th isn't onerous if one plays within their limits.


Yet another stellar par three, the 17th features a cracking green. Built in 1922, this is Aldeburgh's only completely original Colt short hole.


The green is essentially two tier with several excellent hole locations.


The 1922 Colt home hole is a bit of a step down in quality from the previous few holes mainly because the Taylor bunkering is not interesting.  However, the green is good.


While much altered over the years, the house retains some charm.


Another reminder of WWI's impact on the UK.


I must say that after all the scaremongering about a narrow, unplayable course, Aldeburgh came as a great surprise. While difficult, the course is more playable than many more famous courses. For this reason, there is every chance that a most enjoyable game can be had if the ego is checked. The All-England 4th provides great golf and holes such as 1, 10, 15 & 17 add to the experience. I would like to make another Suffolk trip to include Purdis Heath.  2021

Its a close run race, but to date my order of preference for Suffolk

Sacred 9
Thorpeness/Flempton
Woodbridge
Aldeburgh

Order of quality (although all are worth playing at least once)

Sacred 9
Aldeburgh
Woodbridge
Thorpeness/Flempton

Suffolk Courses

Sacred 9
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,55859.msg1296356.html#msg1296356

Flempton
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,69788.msg1678711.html#msg1678711

Thorpeness
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,70168.0.html

Woodbridge
https://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,70107.0.html

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 12:48:12 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Ben Stephens

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2023, 10:38:15 AM »
Following reading MacKenzie and Ebert Annual Review 2022 (which is always of high quality to update their news update for the year) I noticed that Aldeburgh are in process of rejigging the front nine due to 2nd hole being close to the road and adding yardage to the course.

Had a look at the Planning Application drawings on East Suffolk council website - the 2nd is to be taken out of play and a new 2nd goes from by 1st green to 3rd green. The current 7th will be a new par 3 hole (6th) with new holes 7 and 8 in a 40 acre field north of the existing course where the new 8th green is near the existing 9th tee.

https://www.eadt.co.uk/news/business/20675010.its-exciting-time-us---suffolk-golf-club-plans-submitted/

One wonders whether this would be a general theme with more established clubs in the UK. I know for sure that Luffenham would be a better course had it reversed back to the old 9, 10 and 11th holes pre 1940s (they had to give the land to the war effort and still own the land)
« Last Edit: January 01, 2023, 10:41:39 AM by Ben Stephens »

Niall C

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2023, 11:46:36 AM »
Ben


That's interesting. Sean mentioned in his report that it was a challenging par 68 with a proliferation of strong par 4's and no par 5's and perhaps because of that it lacked variety (Tony refers to it as a slog).


Do you think the changes will address those issues ?


Niall

Ben Stephens

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2023, 04:43:59 AM »
Ben


That's interesting. Sean mentioned in his report that it was a challenging par 68 with a proliferation of strong par 4's and no par 5's and perhaps because of that it lacked variety (Tony refers to it as a slog).


Do you think the changes will address those issues ?


Niall


Niall,


The new 7th looks like a par 5 or a very long tough par 4. I have not played Aldeburgh and hope to play the current course prior to any changes unless it hasn't started.


Lindrick took away the original 12th hole many moons ago because like the 2nd at Aldeburgh it was 'too close to the road' and having seen the playing corridor of that hole it doesn't feel that close to the road.


The other one are the more established clubs looking to increase distance because they fear of losing their chances of hosting county and national level competitions?


Cheers
Ben




Sean_A

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2023, 05:00:09 AM »
I don't know why clubs feel the need to cite road safety to spend a bunch of money on changes when there isn't an issue or there is a cheap fix. In the case of the 2nd, that tee was pushed back over the years, making for an awful green to tee transition without improving the hole...and possibly creating a dangerous situation. Why not just be up front about the reasons for change? It makes me wonder if the people and archie behind the changes are not confident their ideas have enough merit to justify the spend. Let's hope the final plans aren't mainly about making an already difficult non-championship course more difficult. Aldeburgh is possibly the oldest heathland course in GB&I and maybe the world. It has a certain charm in being essentially a heathland course near water. I would think the club would look for ways to exploit that advantage.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 02, 2023, 12:40:39 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Niall C

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2023, 11:15:02 AM »
Sean


If the club asked the GCA to give an overview and that overview included a safety audit then the result is almost inevitable given the club had already identified the safety issue themselves.


There won't be too many professionals who would be cavalier or "self-confident" enough to ignore safety issues and not many green committees either who would think better of a recommendation to make changes to avoid an unsafe situation.


Niall

Sean_A

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2023, 12:50:46 PM »
Sean

If the club asked the GCA to give an overview and that overview included a safety audit then the result is almost inevitable given the club had already identified the safety issue themselves.

There won't be too many professionals who would be cavalier or "self-confident" enough to ignore safety issues and not many green committees either who would think better of a recommendation to make changes to avoid an unsafe situation.

Niall

There is identifying a real issue and identifying an issue as an excuse. I suspect that once a club officer tells an auditor that a few balls have gone on the road the auditor is then obliged to include this evidence in the report. Once the report mentions a few incidents, now there is a potential insurance issue should an accident occur and it was deemed the club didn't take appropriate measures to mitigate known issues. Presto, there is now an excuse to spend loads. Happens all the time...save your ass decision making when often there wasn't a serious issue at all. But hey, I am not a huge fan of the course. I like it and it's good. But I would just assume say blow it up and start again.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 02, 2023, 04:41:00 PM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tony_Muldoon

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2023, 04:29:09 PM »
Ben the plan is to include a new Par 5.

Rest of post deleted....

Let's make GCA grate again!

Niall C

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2023, 05:23:07 PM »
Sean


You talk of an auditor but really the gca is a professional, an acknowledged expert in his field. I'd have thought that puts the onus on him/her to flag up a safety issue if they are aware of it or should be aware of it. In other words if they have inspected the whole course and there is something obviously unsafe then saying they weren't asked to highlight safety issues wouldn't absolve them from flagging it up to the club IMO but then I'm not a solicitor and could be wrong.


Niall

Ben Stephens

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2023, 04:03:57 AM »
Ben the plan is to include a new Par 5.

Rest of post deleted....


Tony,


Having seen the plans on the East Suffolk Planning Portal - it makes more sense that it looks like a par 5.

Its a shame that it will lose its uniqueness of not having a par 5. The Leicestershire decided to extend 2 long par 4's into par 5's to make it easier for the higher handicapper/shorter hitter. Imagine Elie having a par 5  :-\ :-\


Cheers
Ben

Ben Stephens

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Re: Suffolk Sojourn: ALDEBURGH GC
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2023, 04:09:11 AM »
Sean


You talk of an auditor but really the gca is a professional, an acknowledged expert in his field. I'd have thought that puts the onus on him/her to flag up a safety issue if they are aware of it or should be aware of it. In other words if they have inspected the whole course and there is something obviously unsafe then saying they weren't asked to highlight safety issues wouldn't absolve them from flagging it up to the club IMO but then I'm not a solicitor and could be wrong.


Niall


Sean/Niall,


Over the last decade or so - the distance and type of wild shots are getting worse compared with wooden heads and steel shafts. Clubs are having to assess their safety margins and employ a GCA to advise them on this - there are no specific regulations/rules in regards to safety margins a number of GCA have different interpretations/versions which can be confusing.


I am currently working on a project that there is a lot of boundary compromises - buildings (one which has been built recently/cut down the boundary hedge to improve their view and very close to a tee that the club had to put up 20ft high nets to reduce the risk) and roads built after the course was built plus an increase in wayward shots which puts the operator at higher risk of being liable.


Cheers
Ben

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