It’s a pleasure to have Kyle Phillips back to Dundonald Links. Kyle will oversee a number of improvements to the golf course as part of our ambitious £25m investment programme, with a goal of ‘improving the playing experience’ for all golfers.
We recently caught up with Kyle to find out more about what is coming to Dundonald Links.
Kyle, it’s great to have you back working with us at Dundonald Links. When you originally designed the course back in 2003, you had a goal to create a course that ‘looks old’. How do you think it has matured over the years?
Portions of the new Dundonald course incorporate some of the areas over which the original Dundonald course played. When I 1st arrived on site there was evidence of old bunkers such as the bunker behind the now 11th green and 9 fairway that were incorporated into the new course. My objectives were to integrate the natural landforms that had not been disturbed during the military use of the property in World War II seamlessly into the landforms that were designed into the new Dundonald Links course. From the first day, it had the feeling of an old course. Over the years the surrounding landscape and gorse has matured, making the course today feel even more like an ancient links course. Under the leadership of Frank Clarkson and Rob Wooddisse, they have done a great job keeping the course playing firm and fast.
You first came back to work with us on few refinements in 2013 to the 5th, 15th and 16th greens… how do you think that work improved the course?
The refinements we did at that time added a few more pin positions on the 5th, adjusted the upper plateau on the 16th and reinstituted the front left of the 15th green which had settled through the years of bunker revetting and expanded the green approach slightly on the right. We also constructed the permanent putting green near the 1st tee. From the feedback I have received, the players seem to appreciate the work we did in these areas of the course.
How did you feel when you came over and saw some of the best players in the world, including Rory McIlroy & Ricky Fowler playing the course at the 2017 Scottish Open? Also, they were all very complimentary of the golf course, which must be hugely satisfying?
It is always great feeling when both amateurs and professionals appreciate the design of the course. It is also pleasing when players are not able to distinguish the natural contours from the man made ones. One of my good memories was during the 2017 Scottish Open when one of the commentators expressed his great admiration for the old natural linksland contours within the fairways. After which his fellow commentator gently reminded him that Kyle Phillips designed those lovely wrinkles in 2003.
So, we move on again for 2021. Can you tell us about the work that is now underway on the golf course?
We are doubling the size of the practice tee as well as improving and expanding the short game area. Several of the most frequented tee grounds are also being expanded and re-turfed. We are also widening and reorienting a few of the walk paths and making a few adjustments to some of the bunkers. Adjacent to the new lodges we are adding 3 new practice greens.
How do you plan what aspects of the course to work on, and how do you manage that process with the team on site?
Many of the things we are now undertaking have been discussed with the Dundonald management team over the last several years, so it is exciting to now be able to make these further improvements to the course and practice facilities. My on site design representative and shaping specialist David Smith, is on site everyday working side by side with management and the construction team to carry out the design work.
What difference do you think these changes will make to the playing experience?
For both tournament and daily play, the work we are undertaking now on the course and practice facilities will only further enhance and raise the bar on the overall player experience. Players will notice the refinements we have made to a few of the teeing angles, as well at the restored turf walking paths and the bunkers that are being freshened up and re-revetted. Also, the expanded short game practice area and range tee will make what was a good practice facility just that much better.
How do you think the new development at Dundonald Links will enhance the offering for golf in Ayrshire?
The permanent clubhouse and the new accommodations will certainly be a welcome addition to golf in the Ayrshire region. The short drive from Dundonald Links to the all of regions top links courses provides the golfing visitors a convenient base camp for their stay.