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Duncan Cheslett

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Municipal golf in the U.K.
« on: November 06, 2022, 02:55:25 AM »
This summer I made an abrupt mid (late?) life career change, closed my carpentry business after 30 years, and became a greenkeeper at Altrincham GC, a local municipal golf course in South Manchester. What a great decision!

It goes without saying that I now have a completely renewed appreciation for the work that greens staff do behind the scenes, but what I didnít anticipate was an awakening in me of interest in the importance and relevance of municipal golf.

Ours is a quality course dating from 1893 which was completely remodelled after the Great War by Alister MacKenzie. It became a municipal in the 1930s after the club were outbid by the local town council on the death of the original landowner. Since then it has offered an introduction to golf for the ordinary people of the local area.

I had kind of assumed that such municipal provision was an outdated anomaly from a previous age that could these days be fulfilled quite adequately by private clubs. A quick look at GolfNow reveals plenty of alternative clubs at which to play at a similar price to the £20-£25 charged at Altrincham.

Yet Altrincham is busy, with a full tee sheet most days. Many golfers clearly prefer the more relaxed atmosphere at a muni to the the slightly stuffed shirt culture at even the lowliest private club.

Most interestingly, it is a profit centre for the local council which helps subsidise other recreational facilities in the town!

Iím very keen to discover more about municipal golf provision across the U.K. There is no definitive directory of municipal golf courses - an omission I hope to correct.

Iíd be very grateful if people could alert me to any municipal courses they know of so that I can start to compile a comprehensive list by region.

A municipal course is one that is owned by a local authority and managed by either them directly, a stand alone subsidiary company, or by a contracted operator.

A course on land owned by a local authority but leased to private club or proprietor does not qualify.

Thanks in advance.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 02:58:55 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2022, 05:43:11 AM »
Another aspect of municipal golf in the U.K. used to be putting greens and pitch-n-putt courses in many/most municipal community parks, things that seem to have largely disappeared over the last few decades yet places where so many folks were first introduced to golf. There were often tennis courts and bowling greens on site too. Lungs of the city/town as well as a facility for public use. A great shame. Local councils ditching paradise and building parking lots to paraphrase Joni Mitchell.
Atb

Ben Stephens

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2022, 06:32:17 AM »
There are a number of muncipal/public courses that have great bones.


I have played Camperdown, Dundee - now shut (but not Caird Park now knowing that's a Colt Course) and Hazelhead, Aberdeen (some Mackenzie holes) in Scotland.


In my area there is:


PETERBOROUGH


Thorpe Wood (Alliss and Thomas - mid 1970s) it was the longest municipal course then at 7100 yards - the expansion of the driving range reconfigured and shortened some of the holes still a strong challenge and has a high number of rounds of golf played.


Orton Meadows (Dennis and Roger Fitton - early 1980s) The front nine is potentially outstanding if it had TLC and some tree removal it is like transplanting a bit of Florida to Peterborough and the back nine is 1000 yards shorter with lots of par 3s.


Both public courses are run by Nene Golf. https://www.nenegolf.com/


 
CORBY


Priors Hall - i have heard from local golfers that it has great bones and a challenging course better design than most private courses however let down by low costs towards maintenance.




LEICESTER


Humberstone Heights - like Priors Hall has great bones.


Western Park - I had played it a few times in the Scratch League and thought it was challenging with interesting landforms and long par 4s sadly it is now NLE as council focused more towards Humberstone.




Also have a family friend who lives in Southampton says that Southampton Municipal is good course. It was originally designed by JH Taylor.


Municipal courses are key to the grass roots of golf and unfortunately in the UK its numbers are going downhill. Most golfers prefer to play courses with good greens and tees rather than judge it on the quality of the design irrelevant of the levels of maintenance.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 04:27:04 PM by Ben Stephens »

Ben Stephens

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2022, 06:34:42 AM »
.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 04:27:24 PM by Ben Stephens »

Ally Mcintosh

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2022, 07:05:49 AM »
Despite also playing a bit at Royal Aberdeen, I started playing from age 7 on the municipal courses in Aberdeen and they are etched in my brain. I was far from the only one:


1. Hazlehead (MacKenzie parkland) was my home course and I spent entire summers just hanging out there. It has 45 holes.


2. Balnagask / Nigg Bay is a links course on a headland with a few quirky holes worth seeing


3. Kingís Links is one of the oldest playing grounds for golf still in existence


4. Auchmill is a 9 hole hilltop course that worked for a different location and demographic north of the city.


They were / are invaluable to young golfers and casual golfers continuing to play the game.

Niall C

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2022, 07:36:32 AM »
Duncan


I posted on the thread about golf in Scotland sinking fast, about the municipals in Glasgow. Since then the Lethamhill course has been sold to the R&A to redevelop (Scott MacPherson is the architect) as a family friendly pay and play, and they have an option on the Littlehill course which is a James Braid from the mid 1920's. Well worth a play even if the green-keeping is "basic".


Glasgow has 4 other muni's, 1 of which (9 hole Ruchill course) closed during the pandemic and won't re-open, another (Alexandra Park, 9 holes) kept going during the pandemic but is likely to close. Of the other two, the nine hole Knightswood course will likely remain open for reasons not entirely to do with golf, and the 18 hole Linn Park will remain open as far as I'm aware.


Niall 

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2022, 08:31:40 AM »
Fife:

Seven Courses at St Andrews managed by the Links Trust.
Balgove
Jubilee
Old
New
Eden
Strathtyrum
Castle


Seven Courses operated by Fife Golf Trust:
Auchterderran (9 holer)
Cowdenbeath
Dunnikier
Glenrothes
Kinghorn
Lochore Meadows (9 holer)
Scoonie
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2022, 09:37:54 AM »
Edinburgh:
Six courses managed by Edinburgh Leisure.
Braid Hills
Carrick Knowe
Craigentinny
Portobello (9 holer)
Silverknowes
Wee Braids (9holer)


Perth:
North Inch


West Lothian:
Polkemmet (9 holes)
Balbardie Park (9 holes)
« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 10:09:13 AM by Marty Bonnar »
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2022, 10:10:08 AM »
Marty, Ally, Niall, Ben,


Many thanks for your contributions so far. Together with my own researches Im building up quite a spreadsheet.


Please keep Ďem coming, guys!

Mike Worth

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2022, 10:30:07 AM »
Edinburgh:
Six courses managed by Edinburgh Leisure.
Braid Hills
Carrick Knowe
Craigentinny
Portobello (9 holer)
Silverknowes
Wee Braids (9holer)


Perth:
North Inch


West Lothian:
Polkemmet (9 holes)
Balbardie Park (9 holes)


Braid Hills <sigh of joy>   :D

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2022, 10:44:32 AM »
East Lothian:
Musselburgh Old (9 holes)
Winterfield


Thatís all the ones (relatively) local to me!


PS Arbroath? Monifieth? Carnoustie, I suppose?
« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 10:49:46 AM by Marty Bonnar »
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2022, 10:50:34 AM »
East Lothian:
Musselburgh Old (9 holes)
Winterfield


Thatís all the ones (relatively) local to me!


PS Arbroath? Carnoustie, I suppose?


What about Dundee? Iíve got Caird Park but are there any others?


Is Carnoustie a muni? 🤔

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2022, 11:33:07 AM »
For Dundee, Ben gave you Caird Park and that Camperdown is now closed. No others there.
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

Niall C

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2022, 11:36:16 AM »
Is Carnoustie a muni? 🤔


Probably comes into the same category as the St A's Links Trust courses. Monifieth and Montrose I imagine are similar.


Niall

Marty Bonnar

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2022, 11:45:51 AM »
There must be a few of the Ayrshire ones too? Troon Darley?
The White River runs dark through the heart of the Town.

James Reader

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2022, 11:49:16 AM »
A few in West Yorkshire Duncan, only the first of which Iíve playedÖ


Kirklees (Huddersfield)
Bradley Park - 18 hole Donald Steel.  OK with a couple of interesting holes.  There were plans to take 9 holes to build housing but that seems to have gone quiet for now.


Leeds
Temple Newsam - 27 hole Mackenzie until recently.  Now there are just 18 holes left and Iím not sure how they relate to the original layout.
Roundhay Park - 9 holes


Wakefield
City of Wakefield - 18 holes







James Reader

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2022, 11:50:55 AM »

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2022, 12:12:29 PM »
A few in West Yorkshire Duncan, only the first of which Iíve playedÖ

Kirklees (Huddersfield)
Bradley Park - 18 hole Donald Steel.  OK with a couple of interesting holes.  There were plans to take 9 holes to build housing but that seems to have gone quiet for now.


[size=78%]Wakefield[/size]
City of Wakefield - 18 holes


I grew up playing Bradley Park. It's a pretty severe piece of ground, and there are a few too many holes that are high tee, drive in to a valley and then up another hill to the green. I always liked the fourteenth hole at the far end of the course, which involved driving into some very humpy bumpy ground and then a quite sharply downhill approach. The only problem was that the green was quite close to a housing estate, and on more than one occasion, I saw someone hit a ball onto the green, only for a kid to run out of the bushes, steal the ball and disappear!


I used to play City of Wakefield (Lupset) in school when I got senior enough that they didn't try to force me to play rugby. I remember little about it except that it was longer than most of the courses I played at that age, because it had a very long (about 580 yards) par five, which seemed insanely huge in the mid 80s.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Richard Muldoon

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2022, 12:47:25 PM »
Queens Park in Bournemouth is run by the council and Meyrick Park I think was but not sure now.

Ben Stephens

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2022, 04:29:24 PM »
There must be a few of the Ayrshire ones too? Troon Darley?


I have played Troon Lochgreen and there is also a third shorter course out of the trio that starts and finishes from a now revamped clubhouse. Troon Darley has work going on there currently by Kimber Glen
« Last Edit: November 06, 2022, 04:32:00 PM by Ben Stephens »

Ben Stephens

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2022, 04:30:49 PM »
Allestree Park in Derby which is now closed its a Harry Colt course prob 15 of his holes were in play recently. 

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2022, 04:35:37 PM »
Great Salterns in Portsmouth is a Colt course that was a huge land reclamation project. I don't know the course, but it is a very interesting story.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2022, 04:46:09 PM »

Ours is a quality course dating from 1893 which was completely remodelled after the Great War by Alister MacKenzie. It became a municipal in the 1930s after the club were outbid by the local town council on the death of the original landowner. Since then it has offered an introduction to golf for the ordinary people of the local area.


Duncan:


Congrats on the new job.


I have not heard of Altrincham, at least under that name.  Are there any features of the course that you would point to as hallmarks of MacKenzie's work?

Adam Lawrence

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2022, 04:57:53 PM »
Allestree Park in Derby which is now closed its a Harry Colt course prob 15 of his holes were in play recently.


I've been providing advice to the campaign to save Allestree. The evidence is that John Morrison was mainly responsible for the design.
Adam Lawrence

Editor, Golf Course Architecture
www.golfcoursearchitecture.net

Principal, Oxford Golf Consulting
www.oxfordgolfconsulting.com

Short words are best, and the old words, when short, are the best of all.

Niall C

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Re: Municipal golf in the U.K.
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2022, 05:51:10 PM »
There must be a few of the Ayrshire ones too? Troon Darley?


I have played Troon Lochgreen and there is also a third shorter course out of the trio that starts and finishes from a now revamped clubhouse. Troon Darley has work going on there currently by Kimber Glen


The 3 courses are Lochgreen which is the one that got used for Open Qualifiers primarily for its length; the Darley which is the most interesting terrain of the 3; and the Fullarton which is something like a par 62 or something. All 3 were originally laid out by Fernie.


Down in Ayr there are the Belleisle course and the Seafield course which are both Braid. Only played Belleisle and that was a number of years ago but I recall I really enjoyed it.


All of the above are really popular from what I understand.


Niall

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