Harry Colt – The Great Courses
Henry Shapland “Harry” Colt (4 August 1869 – 21 November 1951) was a golf course architect born in Highgate, England. He worked predominantly with Charles Alison, John Morrison, and Alister MacKenzie, in 1928 forming Colt, Alison & Morrison Ltd. He participated in the design of over 300 golf courses (115 on his own) in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. Colt’s courses of note in the UK include: Oxford Golf Club, Tandridge Golf Club, Ladbrook Park Golf Club, Denham Golf Club, St George’s Hill, Sunningdale (New course), Belfairs Golf Club, Rye, Blackmoor, Swinley Forest, Brancepeth Castle, Brokenhurst Manor, Camberley Heath, Stoke Park Club, Calcot Park, Goring and Streatley Golf Club, Grimsby Golf Club, Hendon Golf Club, Tyneside and the East & West Courses at Wentworth Club. He performed extensive redesigns of Sunningdale (Old course), Woodhall Spa, and of Muirfield, Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, and Royal Portrush, three of the courses on the rota for the Open Championship. In Canada, his courses for the Hamilton Golf and Country Club and the Toronto Golf Club are highly respected[by whom?]. He also designed in 1914 the first Spanish course bigger than 4.300 yards, the Club de Golf Sant Cugat, promoted by the Barcelona Traction Light and Power Company Ltd. While it is often joked[by whom?] that “the sun never sets” on a course designed by architect Robert Trent Jones, this is actually true[according to whom?] for the works of Colt and his collaborators.
H.S Colt teamed up with George Crump in 1918 to design Pine Valley Golf Club, which is ranked[by whom?] the #1 Golf Course in the United States, as of April 2017. The classic Plum Hollow Country Club in Southfield, Michigan was designed by Colt and Alison in 1921. The course played host to the 1947 PGA Championship, the 1957 Western Open, and Ryder Cup Challenge Matches in 1943.
In 1897 he became a Founder Member of the Royal & Ancient Rules of Golf Committee.
Below is a selection of some of Harry Colt’s finest golf course designs:
Thorndon Park Golf Club
The premier course and club in Essex.
Walk the fairways of Thorndon Park and you walk with history. Gaze at the great Palladian columns of Thorndon Hall and you gaze at history.
The Club’s course was created in 1920 by Harry Shapland Colt on a deer park dating back to the 1580s. The deer park, already rich with oaks from the 16th century – some of which survive to this day – was enhanced with oaks and chestnuts planted in the 1730s by the eighth Lord Petre, a noted botanist.
The Hall we now see, designed by James Paine and completed in 1770, was the home of the Petre family until 1919. Here, George III was entertained in 1778; here, Lancelot “Capability” Brown laid out a park that was the finest in the county; here, some of the great families of England stayed during the deer-hunting season and joined the Petre family in roller skating in the ballroom.
Ravaged by fire in 1878, Thorndon Hall was offered a new lease of life in 1919 when a group of businessmen saw the grounds as the perfect place for a golf course and for developing a residential estate similar to the one planned for St George’s Hill at Weybridge. St George’s Hill had chosen Harry Colt as its architect – and he was selected to design Thorndon Park golf course.
With the onset of the Second World War and the subsequent constraints of the Green Belt laws, the plans for an estate never materialised. But the course did. It was opened on 1 July 1920 and it has thrived ever since.
The East Wing of Thorndon Hall was leased to the Club in 1921 and, by the late 1940s, the Club had also bought the chapel within the Hall, which was converted into the mixed lounge.
Over a period of time, the Club bought the 240 acres the course occupied and, in 1968, Thorndon Hall. With the building of a new clubhouse in 1974, the Hall was sold the next year to a building company which restored the facade of the Palladian mansion to its former glory and turned the building into apartments with views over the course.
Here, is a place of tranquillity, bounded by a vast country park, with mighty oaks adding their grandeur alongside the fairways and greens.
Thorndon Park extends the warmest of welcomes to visiting societies, groups and individual players. We are proud of our Club and our course and we want visitors to be pleased to be part of us for the day.
We are little more than two miles from Junction 29 of the M25, so we are easily accessible for a day or half a day’s golf.
All our facilities (except the Harry Colt Bar for members only) are there for you to enjoy – and you will have dedicated attention from our staff.
“Intelligent in its layout…imaginative in its use of land…a course for everyone, even the best”
Peugeot Golf Guide to Europe’s Top 1000 course guide
“Thorndon Park is a beautiful place and a fantastic and challenging course – but a word of advice: you’ll need your putting boots on!”
Charlotte Ellis, England amateur international 2008 – 11 and now a professional on the ladies European Tour.
“No matter how many courses I have played, I am still enthralled by the quality, beauty and peace of Thorndon Park ”
Beverly Lewis, PGA Captain 2005-07, BBC and ESPN commentator and Thorndon Park Ladies Captain 2011-2012.
“Of the thousands of courses I have played around the world, Thorndon Park has a special place in my list of favourites. I defy any golfer not to enjoy it”
VOTED NO.1 COURSE IN ESSEX
Thorndon Park Golf Club
Ingrave, Brentwood, Essex CM13 3RH
Established in 1913, Blackmoor Golf Club has matured over the past 100 years into one of the best courses in Hampshire.
It was originally laid out by renowned golf architect Harry Colt, whose maxim was: ‘The real test of a course: is it going to live?’ Blackmoor certainly has and is one of the 43 courses featured in the 2008 book ‘Creating Classics – The Golf Courses of Harry Colt’.
The course consists of two loops of nine holes created from heathland, with fairways surrounded by heather, pine, birch and oak trees. Colt’s design principles have stood the test of time as golf is still played over sixteen holes designed by him.
From 1998 until 2003, Blackmoor was a regional qualifying course for the Open Championship where golfers from the UK, Europe, America and Africa began their quest for ‘The Claret Jug’.
The course is a delight to play… so why not try it for yourself.
Visit the Blackmoor Golf Club website.
Canterbury Golf Club opened for play in 1927 on 160 acres of land leased from the War Office. Designed by the renowned course architect Harry Colt, the 18-hole course boasts several areas given SSSI status by Natural England.
Over many years, the original heathland nature of the course has altered with the introduction of huge expanses of trees. The resulting mature woodland, with its carpet of bluebells in spring and wide variety of wildlife all year round, make this an uplifting place to play golf.
The closure of the adjoining Howe Barracks in February 2015 enabled the golf club to buy the land on which the course stands from the Ministry of Defence. Since then, heavy investment has seen the course developed and improved, a long-term project that is still ongoing.
The course is 6,287 yards off the whites – a par 71 – and is a mix of open par 5s, tight par 4s and challenging par 3s!
Visit the Canterbury Golf Club website.
The Colt designed Isle of Purbeck GC was founded in 1892, the coming of the railway meant hotels were being built and Summer visitors were increasing rapidly. Among its past owners were Dr Darrell-Waters, a consultant of distinction and his wife Enid Blyton, the legendary writer of children’s books. At the time the club was called the Studland Bay Golf Club and the clubhouse was located on the left hand of the Swanage to Studland road. In 1965, after 14 years in charge, Darrell-Waters sold the club to Mr Randolph, who was about to retire from his positions as Chairman and Managing Director of the family firm, The Wilkinson Sword Company. It was Randolph who in 1966 restored the club to its original name “The Isle of Purbeck GC”. This was also the year the new clubhouse, still in use today, was built. It features giant fossils in the walls and the connection with the Wilkinson Sword Company , is present throughout. Swords are played for annually by the members in the Randolph Trophy.
Visit the Isle Of Purbeck Golf Club website.
Sherwood Forest Golf Club a long established heathland course alongside the pines, silver birch and oak trees of Clipstone Woods within the legendary Sherwood Forest.
We are very proud of our reputation as one of the oldest and finest heathland golf courses in Great Britain and are currently rated 84th best in the British Isles and 47th in England. The course was intially designed by Harry Colt and subsequently enhanced by James Braid.
The English Golf Union, when staging the 2006 England Boy’s Amateur Stroke Play Championships, described Sherwood Forest Golf Club as being ‘in a league of its own’. As a premier course the club has hosted many national competitions over the years, including the ‘British and English Seniors’ and regional qualifying for the ‘Open Championship’.
We welcome you as a possible future visitor to Sherwood Forest Golf Club. For bookings or reservations, please use our Enquiry Form , contact the Golf Professional on (01623) 626689 or for more information please click here .
Visit the Sherwood Forest Golf Club website.
Designed by the world famous architect Harry Colt in 1924 and laid out on what was Brancepeth Castle Deer Park, the stables and coach house being converted into the clubhouse. Harry Colt was involved in designing or redesigning over 300 courses around the world, including Moor Park, Royal Lytham & St. Annes and Wentworth.
Brancepeth is a beautiful parkland course of 6400 yards, SSS 71, offering a great variation of holes. The deep ravine cutting through the course, provides some challenging tee shots.
We are pleased to be recognised as one of the top 100 courses in Britain and Ireland and one of the finest in the North East. The club has played host to the final of the English County Championships and the English Ladies Amateur Championships.
Visit the Brancepeth Castle Golf Club website.
Situated in an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, Thurlestone is a fantastic location to play golf and tennis.
Running along the stunning coastline of Bigbury Bay, this Harry Colt designed course is a mix of links and cliff-top terrain with the latter providing breath-taking views of the legendary Thurlestone Rock to the East and the beautiful Avon Estuary and Burgh Island to the West.
The course is one of the most exhilarating with majestic rocky seascapes above the coves where smugglers used to operate. It is also ideal holiday golf – not too severe, with quite generous fairways but the wind, of course, can blow with a vengeance.
Visit the Thurlestone Golf Club website.
The original Churston course, which was opened with nine holes in 1890, and later extended to the full eighteen holes, was laid out on the Common on the inland side of the railway. But it was short and of no conspicuous merit, and when Mr H. S. Colt was invited to lay out the present course shortly after the 1914/18 War, the only part of the ground that was retained was that represented by the first and last holes of the course as it is today. Harry Colt made the following observations before laying out the present course: – “from a great portion of the ground are obtained magnificent views over Torbay, and the situation and surroundings are admirable in every way. I consider that it will be feasible with sufficient money available to construct a very attractive course on the ground selected. If the arable part of the land be sown down at the end of August ( 1923) with a suitable mixture of seed, under normal weather conditions, the course should be ready for play by the Autumn of 1924”. It is interesting to note that in 1925 there were 195 gentlemen members and 94 ladies.
Visit the Churston Golf Club website.
Designed by the legendary Harry Colt in the 1920’s, the course offers a fine test of golf for all levels of handicap and we are justifiably proud of our connection to a man whose design and influence can also be seen at Muirfield, Sunningdale, Royal Lytham & St. Annes, Real Golf Pedrena (Seve’s course), and many other courses around the world. The course was officially opened on 4th May 1921.
Our fabulous club and course, which is in the very best of health, has a long and rich history, from our first professional Percy Alliss, among the finest players of his generation, through to his son Peter who listed us in his top 200 clubs, right up to our current club champion who was the first Chairperson of the then newly formed Golf Union of Wales.
Indeed, Harry Colt might be described as the founder of golf course architecture in the British Isles, softening its lines, introducing curves and creating visual challenges to tease and intrigue the golfer. Above all, he was the first to appreciate how golf could be a delightful walk through beautiful vistas, something that can truly be appreciated at Clyne. Situated on the high ground of Clyne Common, our moorland course remains part of a dramatic and ever-changing landscape. The 2nd 9 holes were constructed first and were in use for nine months before the full 18 holes were opened.
The original lay out by Harry Colt remains today, with many natural hazards residing on the undulating ground as well as many little pot bunkers often hidden from view around humps and bumps. Gorse and bracken surround the rolling fairways which are reasonably wide but, as you’d expect, a battle with the elements is always on the cards here and the swirling breezes at its highest points can easily blow you offline. The key for success here is how you handle approach shots. The putting surfaces are very special, even paced throughout and the soft springy turf gives welcome receptiveness. Finding them on a regular basis will lead to low scores; however, slip off the straight and narrow just a touch and the penalties can be severe thanks to regular steep run off areas and fluffy spots of heathland growth in close proximity. Despite its lofty position the course is never too difficult to walk, and never are you too far away from a stunning view of this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Major developments have taken place since 1995, with the course improvements resulting in the approval and recognition to meet County Standards. We now have a challenging 72 par course which frequently hosts County events. In 2016 the course was beautifully presented for the Welsh Schools International versus England match.
Visit the Clyne Golf Club website.