Golf Course Profiles



Walmersley Golf Club, Bury, Lancashire, UK

"On behalf of the Council and Members, I wish to place on record our great satisfaction not only on the design but also the management of the construction... May I thank you for your design, advice, cooperation and professionalism in dealing with the further development of the Course" David L THOMAS, Honorary Secretary

PROJECT - Course extension - 18 holes 5,341yds - Moorland

OPENED - 1906

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One of my first professional appointments as a golf course architect was to extend the original 9 holes to 18 in 1993, the works being constructed by Brian D Pierson.

Walmersley Golf Club is where it is purported that one of the worlds golfing greats Nick Faldo signed his professional forms in the mid 70's with Colin Snape then a member of Walmersley, soon to become secretary of the PGA. Whether this is true or not Nicks signature can be seen in the club's visitors book. Colin was responsible for taking the Ryder Cup to the Belfry and was Honorary treasurer at Walmersley.

Walmersley Golf Club is perched high above Bury, Greater Manchester within an area of rugged moorland. The views from the course can be stunning and on a clear day and it is possible to see the Little Orme at Llandudno North Wales, Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, parts of Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

Due to the nature at Walmersley the conditions can be severe and this is reflected in the type of vegetation seen on the site, heather, bilberry and wavy hair grass (Deschampsia flexuosa) abound and the design careful avoided as much of this existing vegetation as possible whilst areas of heather were stripped and relocated around the development where possible. The thin acid soil was careful stripped and replaced and great care was applied in trying to blend the new holes into the existing landscape.

Other considerations involved the development of new greens based on the USGA method for putting green construction or perched water table system which must somehow be added to a course which had 9 small clay based greens with totally different playing conditions and maintenance requirements. The design team included agronomists PSD Agronomy and ecologists so that the technical specifications for the movement of heather, production of greens and tees rootzones and the future management would be perfectly suited for this location. We even specified wavy Hair Grass within the seed mix for the roughs so that the new works would blend imperceptibly into the existing vegetation.

Construction works began in 1993 and the 18 hole course opened in 1995. The photographs taken of the new course in 1995 illustrate the benefit of saving and working around the good existing site characteristics and vegetation - even the old remnants of dry stone walling were retained to preserve the upland nature of the course.

The feature par three 6th hole was created out of a former boggy wet amphitheatre. The existing stream called Gypsy Brook provided the source of water to enable a small pond to be created as part of the hole. Excavation elsewhere on the site revealed some lovely rocks which were expertly used by the contractor to create a feature alongside the pond and near the green so that the water from the Brook cascades over the rocks and into the pond.

High winds in this location can quickly remove the sand from shallow bunkers therefore the decision was taken to provide a more 'pot style' of bunker where small areas of sand lay in flat bowls within the deeper pots.

Careful design and appreciation of the landscape has enabled this course to retain and strengthen its moorland character and it is my philosophy that where possible the site should dictate the course character and that each course will offer different styles and challenges. Variety is hugely important in golf and this is certainly provided at Walmersley.

It was realised very early on that even though Walmersley was extended to 18 holes in 1993 the land was only able to provide a certain length of course and within which there were rather too many par three's. It was always the clubs intention to gain additional land and carry out further extensions so that the course can gain valuable length.

In 1995 I was appointed to look at the possibilities of additional holes on other land. I produced some sketch plans which later became detailed plans which were submitted for planning. In 2007 construction started on a three hole extension for the course and this was expertly built by Arthur Wilson of AB Golf Contractors. Such is his experience and quality, after completing this contract Arthur went straight to work at St Andrews at The Dukes Course working for Tim Liddy from the Pete Dye School.

Works are complete and the three new holes are being grown-in they provide the club with three much needed par fours, all with very different characteristics but created very much in a style which matches with the rest of the course. The views from this piece of land as stunning as they are from the rest of the course.

The next stage for Walmersley will be to look at their 21 holes and ascertain which holes will be dropped to provide a strong 18 hole layout with increased length, variety and challenge. I hope to be involved in that process too as my relationship with Walmersley is long standing and has been enjoyable and I hope will continue.


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