This year Golf At Goodwood celebrates 100 years of classic golf on the award-winning Downs Course which was originally designed by five times Open Champion James Braid who played a challenge match against great rival Ted Ray at the official opening in 1914.
It was early in 1912 that Lord Bernard Gordon Lennox, third son of the Duke of Richmond who owned the magnificent West Sussex estate, engaged Braid to design and produce a course of the highest quality.
Moreover, the search for perfection has continued over the years as other major golfing figures have made their contribution to the status of the Downs Course. Henry Cotton, three times Open Champion was consulted on design aspects in 1964 as was Fred Hawtree in 1967, a member of the distinguished dynasty of golf course architects. They both played their part in the history of Golf At Goodwood.
James Braid was undoubtedly one of the greatest golfers of all time and most influential figures in golf course design in the UK. He was part of the Great Triumvirate alongside Harry Vardon and JH Taylor and in 1912 Braid already had a formidable reputation in professional golf and was making a successful transition to a career in golf course design.
The classic downland course now measures 7,104 yards and displays many of Braid’s original trademark design features such as the “dog leg”. The shrewd Scot believed that each hole should have two ways to play it, the more difficult of which rewarded the golfer with the opportunity to pick up a shot when played correctly. Braid also introduced blind tee shots to test commitment and maintain the mystery of the hole and clever positioning of bunkers pulled forward of greens and landing zones still perplex golfers today when judging distance.
Braid’s layout stood the test of time for almost 90 years, then in 2003 the Club’s new Chairman Lord March commissioned Howard Swan former President of the British Institute of Golf Course Architects to transform the Downs Course to elevate it to a world-class test of golf. The brief was to preserve the timeless features of Braid’s design and further enhance the course to make Goodwood one of the finest golf courses in England without compromising its natural beauty.
The transformation of the Downs Course included the creation of six new holes from 1 to 3 and 16 to 18 which lengthened the course to 7,104 yards from the championship tees. Elsewhere, tees, greens and bunkers were rebuilt on the remaining 12 holes to incorporate a contemporary automatic irrigation system and improve sight lines as the course meanders through dips and Hillocks of the downland below the world famous Goodwood Race Course.
Today, the Downs Course is ranked by Golf World Magazine as one of England’s Top 100 golf courses putting it in the top 5% of courses in the country and Goodwood has also been voted in the Top 20 Stay and Play golf venues in the UK by Golf Monthly Magazine.
To mark the 100 year celebration of the Downs Course Golf At Goodwood will be staging a series of unique one day golf events throughout the season.
For further information on Golf At Goodwood visit: www.goodwood.com/golf