Braid classic unveils golf course renovations

Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club has unveiled a three year program of golf course renovations and improvements to its James Braid designed heathland course on the Suffolk Heritage Coast, England.

Thorpeness officials have chosen this week to unveil the renovations by Creative Golf Design and Scottish architect Ken Moodie because the course is co-venue for the English Men’s Seniors Championship with neighbouring Aldeburgh Golf Club.

The famous House in the Clouds at Thorpeness Golf Club
Iconic House in the Clouds at Thorpeness Golf Club, Suffolk

The coastal courses host a field of 288 English amateur men aged over 55 from May 30 to June 1.

Christopher Oldrey, golf operations manager and PGA Professional at Thorpeness, said: “This is an exciting milestone for Thorpeness. We are looking forward to putting our new, improved and lengthened layout to the test against England’s most experienced and talented senior golfers.”

Thorpeness brought in Creative Golf Design and senior golf course architect Ken Moodie three years ago to create a five-year plan to modernize and improve the golf course which first opened in 1922.

The work has seen extensive remodeling of the greenside bunker complexes at holes 11 through to 18 and the addition of swales, hollows and run-offs to draw in balls that narrowly miss the greens.

“Thorpeness is a beautiful golf course but it is not long playing 6,449 yards at its full length. The changes to the bunkering and green aprons and run-off’s has added another level of strategic decision making for golfers hitting approach shots,” said Moodie.

“We have also worked hard to enhance the visual composition and heathland character of the golf course by widening fairways at key points to accommodate new bunkering and by adding additional areas of heather, including on the faces of certain key bunkers.

The widening of the fairways offers options for the golfer off the tee and an advantage for one who takes more risk.”

Thorpeness Golf Club, Suffolk 15th green
Renovated bunkering at James Braid designed Thorpeness, Suffolk

Place of special scientific interest
The course is framed by mature silver birch trees, pine, gorse and heather and is a site of Special Scientific Interest providing rare wildlife habitats for bats, adders, whitetail fish eagles and marsh harriers.

A new tee has also been built at the 12th hole, extending it from 373 yards to 406 yards, and the greens have been seeded with finer bent grasses for quicker surfaces and consistent roll.

The English Seniors Championship is the first time that all of the renovations have been put in play at the same time.

Thorpeness is best known for the iconic “House in the Clouds,” which floats above the tree-line overlooking the course. It was created by then owner Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie in the 1920’s as the focal point of a fantasy holiday village by the sea.

Thorpeness Golf Club is a riot of colour - gorse, heather and pine trees
Thorpeness Golf Club is a riot of colour - gorse, heather and pine trees

The Suffolk Heritage Coast is one of the driest places in the UK and Thorpeness is a popular year-round golf breaks destination. The club has an adjoining 36-bedroom hotel, restaurant, golf academy and a Country Club with tennis courts in Thorpeness village by the seafront.

Suffolk Swing for visitors
Thorpeness offers visiting golfers the chance to play rounds at Aldeburgh, a traditional members club where foursomes is the preferred format of play, as part of its Suffolk Golf Tour.

Major anniversaries
2012 is the centenary of the Thorpeness Country Club and 90-years since Braid designed and opened the golf course.

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