The Himalayas reaches new heights
Top 100 Golf Courses was recently invited to play the newly renovated Himalayas nine at Prince’s Golf Club and I’m thrilled to report that the work carried out by the renowned international golf course architects, Mackenzie & Ebert, is hugely successful.
Arguably, the revamped nine is now the best of the three Prince’s loops. The Himalayas always was a fun course, which the members regularly regarded as their favourite, but now there are also some very strong holes – but still fun – throughout the course.
The management listened carefully to past observations and criticisms tabled by various experts. The issues that may have held the course back in terms of positioning within the rankings have now been addressed. Often heard complaints were: “Prince’s doesn’t have a target par three”, “Prince’s doesn’t make the most of the sea views”, “Prince’s doesn’t have a risk/reward par four”. Thanks to the stellar work of Martin Ebert, Mike Howard and the rest of the Mackenzie & Ebert team, all these criticisms have been addressed.
It’s fair so say that every hole has been improved through the renovation process, which only started in August 2017, but the stars of the show are two brand new holes. The 2nd is now a massive par five (622 yards from the tips), doglegging to the left across one of many wetland areas on the Himalayas – these natural wetlands and also the many wasteland areas actually give the course a feel of the Ocean course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. The new 2nd evolved from combining the old 2nd and 3rd holes and then by some substantial tree clearance behind the green, making this hole unrecognisable in comparison to what was there before.
I think that this par five could become a real favourite for many, but make sure after playing this hole to take a little time at the 3rd tee – a replica spitfire propeller has been installed here paying tribute to the heroics of fighter pilot, PB ‘Laddie’ Lucas. A previous Walker Cup Captain and son of one of the founders of Prince’s, Laddie made a forced landing on the site in July 1943 after his aircraft was badly damaged by enemy fire as he returned from a mission over northern France.
The 5th hole (named “Bloody Point” in reference to the great Sandwich naval battle in AD 851) is the short par three that Prince’s has been crying out for. This one-shotter once more plays over the wetlands and wastelands where accuracy is crucial as there are some devilish run-offs all around the large undulating green. It’s an enticing hole.
Previously the 8th hole was too arrow straight and not especially exciting. The hole has now been reduced in length (maximum 352 yards) and new tees to the right have been constructed. This provides an opportunity to cut off as much as you can chew with the longer hitters perhaps going for the green – anything under hit on this line will find the wetlands though. It’s a risk and reward hole of the highest order.
Everyone from the various media in attendance were 100% in agreement that the ‘lesser’ nine holes at Prince’s have now moved to another level. As I mentioned at the top, this is due to a club that listens, desiring continuous improvement and also a skilful architectural team that implement things correctly.
Finally I’d like to briefly mention course presentation. Obviously it’s early days for the new Himalayas loop and further maturity through grow-in will happen naturally throughout the year, but the grass paths between greens and tees are superb and add a touch of class.
We await the plans and dates for the Shore & Dunes upgrades over the next few years. Based on what I have just seen, there are good times ahead for Prince’s Golf Club.
Thanks to everyone at the club and the GMS Golf team for the hospitality. It was a great day – and very kind to arrange some decent weather, which is an obvious challenge during the early months of 2018.
Top 100 Golf Courses