Sunday, 26 December 2010

Restoring the 16th at Knollwood

The before

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday just outside New York City. This was the start of the restoration work at Knollwood Country Club, a course designed by Seth Raynor and finished by Charles Banks. The main focus of the work will be restoring all the greens back out to the edge of their fill pads and returning the bunkers back to their original steepness and configuration. I was on site to provide direction for the restoration of the 16th hole.

We began by expanding the green out to the edge by removing all the sand build-up at the bunkers and by amending the remaining edges of the plateau to create a soil profile that matches the rest of the green. The next stage was to lower the exit points and raise the centre point approximately six inches to get minimal fall, since the green was stunningly flat through the main pin area. We then amended the entire surface again to try and bring more sand into the greens mix to improve the porosity and growing environment.

Once the green was pushed to the limits, we then set out to restore the bunkers. The front bunkers were quite close to the original shape and depth, so we concentrated on returning the two noses (unusual for Raynor, but not as unusual for Banks) and made sure the two bunkers were pretty close to the shapes of the originals. We then concentrated on the wrap around bunker that begins on the left and extends all the way around to the right of the green. The bunker was long gone and so were the original side slopes. We concentrated on the green side slopes and returned the steepness all the way around. From there we dug out the remainder of the bunker so that it once again completely encircles the green as originally designed.

The After (white is green expansion)

The next stage is removing approximately 30 large White Pines. The primary reason is to open up the airflow, but this is also to return the views too. Players will look out the back of the green and see the beautiful ridge in the distance, looking to the right they catch a glimpse of the beautiful clubhouse and once they stand on the green they will see the  incredible hidden stone bridge that is shown in so many of the pictures from the turn of the century.

The left side of the green with the wrap around bunker going in

This is our opportunity to make a statement to the membership, since they will not only get a chance to see a hole completed, but can understand the impact of all the green recapturing that has begun at the other 15 greens. The superintendent at the club is outstanding to work with, shares the vision and has taken the bull by the horns and pushed forward with the recapture of the greens on the course. By seeing the 16th done, the membership will come to understand why all those areas are worth the patience as he slowly convert them down to greens height by cutting and over-seeding.

The right side of the wrap around bunker is 10 feet deep!

I talked about my trip a few days ago and how enjoyable that whole experience was, but that still doesn’t compare with the thrill of returning the work of a Master Architect and knowing how much the membership will enjoy laying the hole after we are finished.

The 16th hole growing in

I was very pleased with how accurate we were with our work at the 16th. We solved all the issues that caused problems and worked very hard to match the photo with our work.


  1. I am in the process of applying to be a member at Knollwood. Can you comment on the course/club? What, exactly, have you been engaged to do there?

  2. Ian-

    I'm always amazed with your eye for detail and your commitment to restoring original design characteristics. Well done!