London, England: Asian Golf Industry Federation Associate Business Member Swan Golf Designs (SGD) is to redesign two holes at Berkshire’s oldest golf club, the historic Newbury & Crookham, a decade after the family firm began the renovation of the JH Turner-designed layout.
Opened in 1873 as Crookham GC, the current course dates from after World War II, during which it was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and some holes were commandeered as runways for what ultimately became the Greenham Common airbase, famed for its women’s peace protests in the 1980s.
In 1947 the golf club amalgamated with the younger Newbury District Golf Club, which was established in 1923, and those wartime runways now constitute, in part at least, the first, 14th and 15th fairways.
But it is the fifth and seventh holes that SGD is returning to renovate, having been untouched in the earlier work and now requiring improvement in both playing strategy and technical performance.
William Swan, SGD’s Director and the family’s third generation of golf course designers, joked: “Newbury & Crookham is the oldest club in the county and, I believe, the fourth oldest in England. Indeed it’s so old it even pre-dates the three generations of Swan golf course architects!
“It’s a very historic club and we are proud to be invited to work on the course again, not least because my father, Howard, worked on it for a number of years, a decade or so ago. It’s greatly satisfying and a great credit to the Swan family that, as a long-standing firm, we get invited back to work on courses at which, at some time, one of us has previously had a hand. It seems to be happening more and more these days.”
Howard Swan, an unabashed enthusiast for historical golf courses and their designs, added: “I understand that, originally, the Crookham course was created by members of Royal Blackheath – the oldest club in the country – who were also country members at Royal North Devon (Westward Ho!). The location of Crookham was roughly half-way between the two and was where they used to stay overnight when travelling down, so they built a nine-hole course on the common there which opened in 1873.
“And, after the war, German POWs were used to help recover four holes which had been given over to agricultural production for the duration. It’s a club and course with a fascinating history.”
SGD is an independent and professional golf course architecture firm with a track record of providing clients with successful design solutions on golf course projects for more than 40 years.
Based in the United Kingdom, SGD has earned commissions on four continents having designed or renovated courses from the UK to the USA, Brazil to Bosnia, Czech Republic to China, Iceland to India and Spain to South Africa among many others.
It is currently engaged by more than 20 golf clubs across Europe on everything from a single-hole redesign, to wholesale renovation as part of a long-term, 10-year project.