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Tandridge Champions the Colt Legacy
18th April 2012

Tandridge Golf Club - April 2012

Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey has been the pioneer of a ground-breaking plan to restore its classic Harry Colt course to the way it is believed such courses really should be in the 21 st century.

3rd Hole at Tandridge Golf Club before alterations

Work on the front nine is now complete, and the unusually mild winter has meant that changes to the back nine are ahead of schedule. If all goes well, the renovation will be completed in the next year or so and the club, its members, their guests and visitors will all be able to enjoy golf the way that Colt intended.

In order to share this approach with similar clubs and aficionados of Colt's work, Tandridge recently hosted a day to which it invited the Secretaries, Head Greenkeepers, Course Directors and Professionals of clubs where a similar approach might be of interest.

The day started with a welcome from Mark Elliott, the Course Director at Tandridge, who explained the story of the project from the initial thoughts at committee level right through to fruition. Such a major undertaking is not to be underestimated, and there are many issues to consider, not least the feelings and the pockets of the members.

Next up was a lecture presented by Paul Turner, one of the world's leading authorities on Harry Colt, who had flown in from New York. He explained Colt's design principles and the features incorporated in his courses and supported this with old pictures and aerial photographs. Colt was keen on cross bunkers, wide fairways, and options for the golfer - true risk and reward.

If trees were not his favourite, then the only thing worse was water which he felt should only form a backdrop or boundary to the course. Neither should be used as hazards. Most pertinent to us now, Turner then overlaid his pictures with up-to-date ones which showed how the Colt design philosophy had been lost in so many instances - by the filling-in of bunkers, by allowing trees to encroach upon fairways and by the narrowing of fairways rather than removing trees.

The next presentation was by Frank Pont, the renowned Dutch golf course architect who is in charge of the changes at Tandridge. Pont is currently working with several Colt, Simpson and Pennink designed classic golf courses to help bring back the strategy and style of the original design. He explained the Colt philosophy and how best to renovate and restore courses. Once again, aerial and old photographs are vital to the process. Interestingly, even very recent aerial photos will show the positioning and contours of long-lost bunkers and features.

Following lunch, there was a guided walk round the course at Tandridge to view the improvements and renovation works, to see things close up and to ask questions.

Finally it was back into the clubhouse where Tandridge Course Manager, Neil Baker, gave a talk on the essential topic of how to maintain a Colt Course. Following a summary from Frank Pont on the restoration process, it was time for the visitors to head home full of thoughts about what might be possible at their club.

According to Mark Elliott, "It was an informative and engaging day that increased everyone's understanding of the huge talent and legacy of Harry Colt. It also confirmed to us what an absolute gem of his we have at Tandridge."

Clubs attending included Beaconsfield, Broadstone, Brokenhurst Manor, Copt Heath, Denham, Effingham, Le Touquet, North Wilts, Royal Hague, Royal Wimbledon, Sunningdale, Swinley Forest and Thorndon Park.

Contact - For more info, please contact the Club Secretary, Andrew Tanner 01883 712274

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