PGA professionals Tom Reid and Kristian Baker have taken the reins at Sunningdale Heath and have announced plans to transform the picturesque Berkshire course
It requires belief to take a bulldozer to a course Peter Alliss once described as “quite magical”. But business partners Tom Reid and Kristian Baker are spearheading a multi-million pound project that will radically develop Sunningdale Heath and produce what they’re confident is going to be “the best short course in the world”.
The pair are at the heart of a £3 million plus scheme that will change the 18-hole course, found sprawling across the same kind of turf as Sunningdale Old, into a nine-hole layout with a variety of tee positions, a new clubhouse, a “world class” academy and modern greenkeeping facility.
They’ve got the likes of Mackenzie & Ebert, the architecture firm that looks after the majority of Open venues, coming to have a look at the heathland layout, which is believed to have been designed by Harry Colt.
Reid, a former junior academy manager at Wentworth and senior teaching professional at Stoke Park, and Baker, who has coached the likes of Ross Fisher, Harry Ellis and Zane Scotland, have already begun making their mark at the Berkshire venue.
A winter maintenance programme is under way, the existing Sunningdale Heath clubhouse will benefit from a huge refurbishment in time for next season, while a Michelin-starred chef has been brought in to transform food and beverage.
“Our remit is for it to be the best short course in the world. That’s our long-term and ultimate career goal,” Reid told NCG.
“It’s been described as a mini Sunningdale Old Course and a hidden gem. We have an opportunity to turn it into something quite special from a golfing experience but we are also going to develop a golf academy within the land we have.
“We are going to reduce it to a traditional nine-hole course with tee options to almost make four different nines.
“The remaining land will be a world-class golf academy. We are going to build a brand new, modernised, clubhouse and greenkeeping compound with new machinery.”
Central to the pair’s ambitions, though, is to create an inclusive Sunningdale Heath that caters for men, women and juniors alike.
“That word (inclusive) is important to us,” Reid added. “My background is in junior development and Kristian’s is in European Tour development. Our other coach is in golf club development. We all want this golf club to be fit for everyone.
“We will have a very high F&B quality, we want to have a very high lesson and academy quality and a very inclusive golf course.
“It’s a course that can be played from the back tees at 3,600 yards for the nine, but also a course that’s fit for a seven-year-old – a par 3 course where the tees are halfway down the fairway with their own scorecard.
“We are going to be very creative and smart with the land that we have. We will be an inclusive golf club that sits ahead of the curve.”