The Hertfordshire course is famous for having no sand – so why have they built something that hasn’t been seen for more than a century?
They’re renowned for being one of Britain’s only sand-free courses, so have they gone bonkers (or should that be bunkers) at Berkhamsted?
The club have installed two hazards at the Hertfordshire layout – the first seen there for more than 100 years.
But purists shouldn’t be alarmed, the golf course itself still remains free from the curse of amateur golfers everywhere.
Golf architect James Edward has designed a new short game area in the woodland behind the 18th hole, which includes a curved double green, chipping and pitching areas and, yes, two bunkers.
Club manager Howard Craft said: “We asked our members what they most wanted, and overwhelmingly they requested an upgrade to our practice facilities. We are very happy with the result!
“We did wrestle with the bunkers’ decision, given that we are known as one of the UK’s few great bunker-free golf courses, but our members aren’t hermits!
“They travel all over the world to play golf, so the new bunkers give them a very welcome chance to work on their sand play.”
But that’s not the only unusual thing about the practice facilities. There are no cups on the double-green, with the pins set on spikes.
“We have three pins, and golfers can easily move them to create virtually limitless practice options,” added Craft. “Whether you’re playing bunker shots, hitting chip and runs, or playing from the very Berkhamsted-like swales and hollows, out here you’ll find more or less every short game challenge from the main course – apart from the bunkers, naturally!”
Work on the area began in late 2021, with Edwards combining with shaper Conor Walsh to produce a modern take on the mounds that create a formidable defence for the greens out on the main golf course.
The short game greens are seeded with pure bent grass, with dwarf fescue on the outfields to replicate the tight lies on Berkhamsted’s greens.
Heather was also taken from non-golfing areas of the main golf course and replanted in between the bunkers.
Edwards said: “Three iconic golf architects – Willie Park Jnr, Harry Colt and James Braid – each contributed to the design of the main golf course here, so with our first heathland academy we wanted to recreate some of the natural atmosphere and unique shots which make Berkhamsted so memorable.”
“Our motto here is always ‘Golf as nature intended’,” added Craft. “In fact it is amazing to see how quickly Mother Nature has worked her magic on the area, with self-seeded gorse appearing quite naturally on the mounds – just like elsewhere at Berkhamsted.
“I feel sure that James Braid, Harry Colt and Willie Park Jnr would have enjoyed whiling away the hours here with a bag of balls and a short iron – and our members feel exactly the same about this wonderful new part of the golf club.”
For further information see www.berkhamstedgolfclub.co.uk.
What do you think of the Berkhamsted bunkers? Should there be fewer bunkers on golf courses, or is it the more sand the better? Let me know with a tweet.
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