Handsworth Golf Club in Birmingham, England, has opened three new holes — designed by Jonathan Gaunt — replacing those lost in a project to reduce flood risk in the local community from the River Tame.
The River flows to the north of the Handsworth property and, in recent years, it has been prone to bursting its banks and flooding the Sandwell valley, Perry Barr and Witton. In 2010, it was so extreme that 10,000 homes were flooded.
The UK Environment Agency’s proposed flood storage reservoir sits within the floodplain of the River Tame.
The flood embankment project, via the use of the Environment Agency’s use of statutory powers, impacted the golf club’s land, which included the existing twelfth hole. This had a major influence on the layout because the twelfth hole was at the northern end of the site and in order to replace this hole it would involve not just one hole, but a three-hole loop.
Birmingham City Council agreed to exchange land alongside the existing fourteenth hole which allowed two new holes to be built to accommodate the realignment and rerouting of the golf course. The new layout involves the abandonment of the par-three eleventh, which is now replaced with a new 198-yard par-three thirteenth.
The new eleventh hole is a slight left-to-right dogleg par four, the second shot plays over a new water feature to an island green. The new 422-yard par-four twelfth plays with a left-to-right dogleg and has been created on new land.
The new layout provides Handsworth with an 18-hole golf course which is slightly longer than the original layout, but remains the same par. The design of the new holes reflects the high architectural calibre of the Colt-designed golf course. This was an important aspect of the design brief — to interpret the Colt design of the existing holes and to create new holes that matched with the existing as closely as possible so as not to create three new holes completely out of character to the existing layout.
Some really interesting contours on the new greens are definitely Harry Colt in style, but not so severe that pin positions are limited. Adam Jones, the Course Manager, is a scratch golfer and he gave us the ‘thumbs up’ after playing in the opening event on 31st August. He said that the feedback from the members was extremely positive.