By Jason Miller
Golf course architect
Miller Golf Design Group
“If your adversary is badly bunkered, there is no rule against your
standing over him and counting his strokes aloud, with increasing gusto
as their number mounts up; but it will be a wise precaution to arm
yourself with the niblick before doing so, so as to meet him on equal
—Horace Hutchinson, avid amateur golfer and author of golf writings
On a small 70-acre site at the north end of Pickering, a dream is taking shape. It is the dream of golfing on a new type of golf course, at a facility where both the beginner and the seasoned veteran can play a game, in whatever time they have available.
It is a golf course that not only allows you to learn the game, but goes way beyond that, allowing you to hone your game on one of the finest sets of greens complexes that are protected by a very unique, and historical, set of hazards that have been inspired by some of the most famous, or infamous bunkers in the world.
It is the soon-to-be-completed Bunker Hill Golf Club. Under development for more than five years, this golf course development has been securing the necessary permits to change an old clean-fill site into a unique recreational property that can cater to beginner golfers, both junior and senior golfers, as well as the experienced golfer.
It is a 12-hole, par three golf course that has the ability to be played by all levels of golfer and, because of this, will be ideally suited to families. Playing to a yardage range of 1,504 to 2,137, each hole will have three to five tee decks that will be designed to challenge each level of golfer. This will be made possible by designing greens complexes that will bring the bunker (or bunkers) into play from various angles, or expanding the challenge based upon the length of the hole, and the required shot and the associated green slopes or landing zones. Every detail has been reviewed to ensure that each level of golfer has an easy way to play the hole, as well as a more challenging direction to the green, or more importantly, the hole in order to get closer to the pin, and not just on the green surface.
The Bunker Hill Golf Club will allow you to play a 12-hole golf course in less than two hours…with all of the beauty and challenge you can pack into a 70-acre parcel of land. Time has been an enemy of many golfers recently, and we will now have an alternative golf facility where you can play golf in the time you have available (and at a pro-rated cost to make this not only convenient, but affordable).
This will allow the golfer to play one hour of golf if he desires, and that is all the time he has available. No more will the golfer be forced to set aside four to six hours for a game of golf, or a golfing experience.
Since we know more than 75 per cent of all golf shots are either at the green, or on the green, then we also know where the most improvement can be achieved by practising these types of golf shots. And this is where the beauty and challenge of Bunker Hill Golf Club comes into play. These short-game development opportunities can now be played on a quality well maintained, yet environmentally sensitive golf course, with all of the quality and challenge of a championship golf course, and maybe even a little bit of extra aesthetic appeal and character. This will be achieved by utilizing the massive fill pile, and the elevation changes on the property that approach 100 feet or more. Of the 12 golf holes, seven are downhill shots that bring 25-mile, long-range vistas to the forefront. Only two of the golf holes play uphill, but these challenging holes with a beauty all of their own will bring with them additional emotions, including anticipation, confusion, and a well deserved nervousness. The placement of the bunkers will themselves create deception and awe, resulting in fear and surprise.
To add to the beautiful views and environmentally-sensitive stream complex that bisects the property, this new golf development will pack an additional punch…12 par three golf holes, each one with a unique bunker complex, inspired by world-famous bunkers from around the globe. Each bunker will challenge your senses…visually and mentally. From the massive Sahara bunker inspired by the Prestwick Golf Club (Scotland) to the tiny pot bunkers inspired by the royal and ancient St. Andrews Golf Club, commonly referred to as “the coffins,” Bunker Hill Golf Club will be a feast for your golfing desires.
Developed specifically to allow golfers to enjoy an affordable game of golf in a shorter time span, the Bunker Hill Golf Club allows all levels of golfers, from beginners to seasoned veterans, to enjoy the game of golf from a set of tees suitable to their game, and this new concept will not be taxing on your wallet, or your physical game. Golf holes will range from 97 to 220 yards and, depending upon the desired challenge, the course can be set up for the beginner golfer, including junior, ladies or senior events.
For the seasoned golfer, the back tees will provide plenty of challenge, as the greens will also be contoured to allow aggressive play to be rewarded. No matter which tee deck or skill level, the golf course will play to maximize the aesthetic appeal to all golfers alike, and to provide ongoing interest each time you play the course. As the winds change, so will the golf course, as six of the 12 holes will be able to take advantage of the large hill and its elevation changes of up to 100 feet as well as provide stunning views of the entire golf course and beyond.
Horace always was quoted as saying, “If profanity had an influence on the flight of the ball, the game of golf would be played far better than it is.” Here at Bunker Hill, we hope your success comes through playing, practice and knowledge, but feel free to throw in the occasional “drat, darn it, or doggon’ it.”
Now, back to the heart and soul of the Bunker Hill Golf Club. The bunkers, and the greens complexes they protect, will inspire numerous emotions, from the excitement and anticipation provided on the tee, to the fear and nervousness created by the bunkers, all the way to the pleasure of exasperation, depending upon the outcome of the shot.
It is my belief that hazards are essential to the game of golf. Today’s golfer expects the golf course to challenge him, and yet be fair. If the golfer makes a good shot, he should be rewarded with a good outcome. If he happens to find a bunker, then there should be an opportunity to play a good recovery shot from the bunker that allows the next shot to have an opportunity at being holed.
Based upon my travels to many and varied golf courses around the world, I truly believe the heart and soul of the game of golf is exciting and challenging, yet fair, golf holes. The excitement needs to go deep into the golfer’s mind, and bring with it anticipation and once in a while a nervous smile when the golfer focuses on the design and layout of the golf hole and therefore the challenge that is presented, whether it is obvious or just peeking above the knoll.
Golfers have asked us why 12 holes of golf and not the typical 18 holes? We have decided to provide two loops of six holes, which can then be played as six, 12 or, if time allows, 18 holes (playing one of the 6-hole loops again).
Early golf courses had a great variety of the number of golf holes. In 1744, the Leith Links had only five holes, and held the world’s first recorded golf competition. Later known as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, they played on golf courses with seven holes, and then for many years as a 12-hole golf course when they built the Prestwick Golf Club, in 1851.
St. Andrews had 12 holes in 1764, and probably much earlier, and it wasn’t until they created double-greens with two flags and holes that this expanded the golf course, at first to 22 holes, and then to 18 holes by 1857.
From 1872, the Open Championship (or British Open) was held annually in rotation with Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. The Open was held over 36 holes, and therefore, three rounds of 12 holes were played when at Prestwick, and two rounds of 18 at St. Andrews, and four rounds of nine holes when played at Musselburgh. Only when Prestwick expanded to 18 holes, and the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers moved again to Muirfield, and built 18 holes, did the three foremost golf clubs in the world use the same number of golf holes, and thus set the standard.
The Bunker Hill Golf Club has developed a 12-hole layout, with the same ability to play 18-holes, if desired, as was done at the early Open Championships, but in a time frame that suits today’s lifestyle. The challenge and excitement will just make it feel like you are playing in The Open.
The Bunker Hill Golf Club will be long on challenge yet short on yardage. It will also be full of awe-inspiring bunkers with spectacular views and vistas.
As mentioned, these bunkers have been inspired by some truly phenomenal bunkers at some very historical golf clubs. Take the “Soup Bowl” bunker, inspired by the Rye Golf Club (East Sussex, England), where golf architect H.S. Colt was devilish with his design, as well as his intent “to play havoc with your shots.” Of the Rye Golf Club, Bernard Darwin (golf writer) moved there in his later years, saying, “Surely there can nowhere be anything appreciably better than the golf to be had at this truly divine spot.”
We need to make golf bunkers a place of both fear and respect. It will take courage to challenge our bunkers, and anyone who is timid or confused, should play around them. A healthy dose of respect will be handsomely rewarded, or Bunker Hill Golf Club will get you in ways you never dreamed of.
The game of golf has been changing for hundreds of years now, and this is just one more variation that will continue to keep the game of golf as unique and fresh as the variations found on the original links courses of Scotland, the parkland classics of middle America, or the sun-drenched desert courses around the world. The Bunker Hill Golf Club will keep you coming back, no matter how much time you have.
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