When I decided to open this series up to courses outside of just the US, other than a few Irish courses that appealed to me, I mostly had in mind the Sandbelt courses. After adding this representation of Kingston Heath to the list of courses already showcased, I’m immensely happy with the selection of courses that have come to life as a result of the OG Series. Even if no other courses get published after these first 5 (stay tuned for Showcase #5, coming soon!), I can easily call this series a success.
You will see in the designer notes that the course was meant to have a very compact routing, like Kingston Heath. Mission accomplished. As I was flying around the course to get pictures, I had a difficult time following the routing and determining which hole was which. The planting somewhat limits long views of the course like you would get at other small plots such as Merion, so it’s only when you get near the perimeter of the property that you get a sense of which way you are going. It’s a compact course, with a lot of holes that feel isolated. An odd and exhilarating combination.
Speaking of planting, the trees and shadows here made it difficult to fully capture what the course was like or to produce any showstopping type of screenshots. To be honest, I think looking at the course from the top down is the most striking, showing off the bunkers, the angles, and the proximity of holes. I know maybe not everyone is as into those shots as I am, so I tried to limit them, but you can definitely see my screenshots here going more aerial than usual.
Designer Notes – Jason Fowler aka energ1ser
I was on the fence about joining this competition for a while. I would browse through the list of wonderful courses suggested and never quite pull the trigger on one, I guess deep down I knew they weren’t the course for me. After a little while the competition thread began to open up to the idea of international courses. Immediately a bunch of Australian courses came to mind (mostly due to watching a lot of the Australasian Tour in my teens). One particular event that stuck out to me was the Australian Masters in 2009 at Kingston Heath (won by Tiger Woods). I remembered the course being hard/fast and having the coolest looking bunkers I’d ever seen. I had to have a crack at this, I was in.
Kingston Heath has a very compact routing. I wanted to stay true to that so I decided to reproduce the layout as close as I could. I had enough aerial data to route the course just like the real thing. However, when I counted the holes, I ended up with 19. It turns out Kingston Heath has a par 3 19th hole. This added a lot of confusion early on as I found three different 18 hole routings for the course (some including the 19th and some without). I decided to make all 19 holes and defer the decision on which holes to include until I could play them.
The most important thing for me with Heatherton Kings was to have it feel and play like the real course. This was a huge challenge as the course doesn’t lend itself particularly well to a TGC theme and the bunker style isn’t achievable due to designer limitations. Because of this, I felt the most important thing was to try and replicate the Tea trees and green complexes. The Countryside theme was chosen as it has Elm trees that can be shrunk down and buried slightly to resemble a Tea tree. The green complexes were very tough to accomplish. The course is on a very flat plot which makes sight lines and contouring difficult. I spent a lot of time meticulously adding subtle contours around greens and fairways so bunkers and greens could be seen, when really the elevation change from tee to green might have only been 4-5yds.
Back to which 18 holes made the cut. I decided to swap the par 3 10th out and use the 19th hole (which is the 2nd) instead. I did this for two reasons. I set the lighting in a direction which favoured the majority of the holes, but the 10th suffered badly due to being surrounded by trees, and it turned out to be the routing used for the Australian Masters in 2009.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with how Heatherton Kings turned out. It was my most challenging course build to date, but also the most rewarding.