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North Foreland Golf Club is preparing for a big year when it reopens after lockdown, with record membership numbers and lots of visitors expected in July with the return of The Open Championship to East Kent, by fast-tracking its five-year plan to remodel its bunkers.
Already one of the most highly-regarded seaside golf courses in the country, North Foreland is always striving to improve and enhance the course – and with round numbers expected to be at an all-time high heading into the new golf season post lockdown, the club was keen to forge ahead with its 14th and 15th bunker renovations early this year.
The work follows a successful rerouting of the 13th hole last year, creating a dog-leg with fairway bunkering, to make an exceptional run of holes on the back nine.
The par-four 14th hole has had four new bunkers and 100 square meters of new putting surface added to make it a truly standout hole down the finishing stretch. The new bunkers include two additional fairway bunkers to create the look of three bunkers in a line off the tee, but they are actually staggered, as well as two new greenside bunkers – one on the left and one on the right of the green. The team also removed a bunker which was just short of the green and was no longer in play.
Not only have the new changes made drastic visual improvements to the hole, but also bring more drama and challenge. Experienced players will now have the choice of taking on the cross-bunkering with their driver to have a chance of attacking the pin with their second shot, or they can lay up shorter but will have a more demanding second with the new greenside bunkers. It is still more than playable for the average golfer as they should miss the cross bunkers if trying to reach the green in three.
The 15th hole is also a par-four and the changes have been made to create a dramatic hole right in front of the clubhouse – strengthening the strategy needed and improving the aesthetics.
The first fairway bunkers on the left and right-hand side have been filled in and seeded, with a new bunker added to the left-hand side of the fairway at 220 yards from the back tees. The remaining right-hand fairway bunker at 240 yards will be remodelled in the same location, but increase in size with a high sand face visible from the tee. This, along with the new fairway bunker on the left, will help frame the view from the tee.
The lower level of the green has been extended slightly in size which will, in time, create a challenging pin position tucked behind the new left-side greenside bunker. Both greenside bunkers are also being completely remodelled, adding drama and ensuring the sand is visible from the fairway.
Chris Dowrick, who took over as general manager of North Foreland last July, is delighted with the improvements. He said: “This is exactly what the course needed on the back nine and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the club, despite the financial constraints the past year has given us. With The Open Championship returning to Royal St George’s in July – which is just 13 miles along the coast – and the UK golf boom expected to continue in the spring and summer, we’re ready to give our members and visitors playing the course for the first time the very best version of North Foreland and are optimistic about a successful 2021.
“A huge amount of research went into this project from our greenkeeping team to ensure that we kept the course true to the original architects, Fowler and Simpson, and it’s fantastic to see all the hard work pay off.
“We can’t wait for our members to experience the remodelled course – and there’s still more to come as part of our five-year vision!”
Situated on the picturesque Kent coast in the holiday town of Dickensian Broadstairs, North Foreland is considered one of the best member clubs in the area – running along the clifftops and offering stunning sea views from every tee.
The club is home to 36 holes in total with two exceptional golf courses – the Main Course and the Northcliffe Course – complemented by top-class clubhouse facilities to match, with the delightful Lighthouse Brasserie and Bar also offering panoramic views of the coastline and seaside.
Renowned for its fast-running fairways and greens, along with coastal views that are amongst the best in England, the 6,436-yard, par-71 Main Course is a fantastic test for all golfers – with the open front nine holes being contrasted nicely with the tighter back nine and a mixture of strategically-placed bunkers and broad fairways.
The Northcliffe Course provides the opportunity for players to hone their short game on holes that vary in distance from 50 to 140 yards and the club is also home to excellent practice facilities and tennis courts.