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Tim Lobb (Senior Member of European Institute of Golf Course Architects and Member of Society of Australian Golf Course Architects) participated in the To Heath and Links Study Tour to some of the best Heathland and Links courses in the UK during the third week of September 2015.

The event was the third edition for such a gathering of golf course architects from Europe, USA and Australia. Being Europe’s turn to host President of the EIGCA, Tom Mackenzie was keen to give the foreign guests a ‘Great British golfing experience’. With over 70 golf course architects from around the world attending it was important to play on architecturally significantly golf courses as well as providing a seamless event in terms of logistics. Two coach loads of golf course design nuts is never easy to deal with.


The grand heathland landscape at Sunningdale GC

The grand heathland landscape at Sunningdale GC


Golf started on the famed Sunningdale (New) course on the Monday which proved to be the toughest test of the week with the average score just 24 points. Many of our foreign visitors had not experienced Heathland golf before and Sunningdale proved to be a baptism of fire for many with the narrow fairways, penal heath and probably a good dose of jetlag all attributing to the increased difficulty. Many found themselves licking their wounds over a wonderful dinner in the clubhouse afterwards.



Hole 10 Berkshire (red) voted best hole on course by players

Hole 10 Berkshire (red) voted best hole on course by players


Next stop was the Herbert Fowler gem, The Berkshire (Red) course. With its configuration of 6 par 3s, 6 par 4s and 6 par 5s and slightly wider fairways the feeling amongst the golfers was one of attack. Increased confidence off the tee, players acclimatising to time zones and lots of birdie chances on par 5s lead to improved scoring for the group. Europe continued to hold an overall lead in the event. A great lecture on Fowler’s life was delivered over dinner by Club Secretary, Peter Foord. With a nice pudding it was a fabulous way to end a super day.



The amazing 9th green at Royal St George's

The amazing 9th green at Royal St George’s


With the heathland courses examined we headed to the Links at Royal St George’s in Sandwich. Host of numerous Open Championships the course and club is surrounded by history. The weather forecast for the day was horrific but thankfully we got around with not too much rain. The green complexes and rolls on the fairway were quite amazing and it was easy to see why many rank it England’s best course. Wonderful speeches and dinner followed in the clubhouse with a late departure back to the hotel. The links certainly saw a rise in the average scores with Europe still holding a lead in the overall competition.



Ross Mc Murray letting one fly at Royal Cinque Ports

Ross Mc Murray letting one fly at Royal Cinque Ports

Last stop on this study tour was Royal Cinque Ports. Often regarded as some of the most interesting green complexes in the country the course did not disappoint. The roll through the fairway and into the greens were sometime mesmerising and lead to a few three putts. The third hole in particular is a short par 5 with punchbowl green.  Find your way onto the green and you will have a close putt. Leave it up top and you will have a deadly chip or putt.

To top off this Great British experience we were treated to our final evening meal in Leeds Castle, which was more than 900 years old and the site of many King Henry VIII banquets. Our mighty EIGCA President, Tom Mackenzie collected the trophy for best winning team over a storming USA and Australia. Niall Glenn (2 handicap) won the individual event by 6 strokes with incredibly consistent golf.

This event was over a year in the making. Congratulations to all involved including Julia Green, Sue Stanger (EIGCA, Head Office), Tom Mackenzie and Ross McMurray (EIGCA) and sponsors Toro for creating life long memories for all that participated.

Next stop is Adelaide, Australia for the 4 Reds tour in 2018.

WRITTEN ON September 23rd, 2015 BY Tim AND STORED IN Golf News, Tim Lobb, Top Courses

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