The golf course at Doncaster Golf Club has been in play since 1909 and it has . The golf course at Doncaster GC has a fascinating history. The course has been modified over the years by, in particular, two illustrious golf course architects – Alister MacKenzie and Fred Hawtree (with advice also offered by James Braid). All have had a significant influence on the golfing world and in fact, the later Hawtree holes, stand out quite significantly, in the respect that they are more “American” in style with big greens, bunkers and tees. This gives the course two distinctive characters, which, unfortunately, does not help it to be played and viewed as an integrated whole.
The Committee had negotiated with Alister MacKenzie to make general improvements to the course and the club prospered.
In 1912 MacKenzie (who had been the founder President of the Yorkshire Union of Golf Clubs in 1894), was elected an Honorary Member of the Club and in 1913 he visited the Club and praised the condition of the eleven holes then in play – the full eighteen holes were in play by 1914. The course was playing to 5924 yards and was said to have a striking resemblance to Walton Heath.
On 20th February 1934, James Braid inspected the course, a task for which he was paid a fee of £10 14s 0d. In 1974, a study by Hawtree & Son, Golf Course Architects (who on an earlier survey had commented that it was ‘a gem of a course’) was done to assess the impact the M18 motorway would have on the course.
Many holes play through or alongside mature oak woodland, providing some constrast with the early MacKenzie holes on the sandy ground.
Following our detailed course assessment in 2011 we identified that there is great potential for course improvements – making it less penal for higher handicap golfers to play and, at the same time, more of a challenge for low handicappers. The greens are renowned for their high quality and in summer, speed, however, many were shaded by dense woodland. In some parts of the course there were, simply, too many trees. Trees generate shade, frost pockets and poor air circulation and diminish turfgrass quality. The greenkeeping team is now winning the battle against the trees following the implementation of a substantial woodland management programme.
Four phases of the bunker remodelling programme have been completed so far, with the shaping and drainage work being done by C&C Golfscapes, and lined with Bunker Blinder (Profusion Environmental).
Photo credit: JG/Roger Myatt