Foxhills Club & Resort has begun work on a major golf course modernisation project that has seen £1.5 million already invested – and has announced a new director of golf to help oversee the improvements.
Following the opening of the club’s dedicated short game area, The Practice Den, and significant driving range enhancements, the Surrey venue will be undergoing a major investment and golf course improvement project over the next five years, which will see the biggest structural changes in the Longcross and Bernard Hunt courses since they were designed by Fred Hawtree and opened for play in 1975.
As part of the significant upgrades, the best-in-class greenkeeping equipment has been purchased from leading suppliers, Toro and John Deere, which will elevate the conditioning and maintenance to even higher standards.
Work on several holes on the back nine of the Longcross – renowned as one of Surrey’s top tree-lined layouts and consistently featured in UK top 100 rankings – is already underway and will continue throughout the winter under the leadership of new director of golf, Sean Graham.
European Golf Design (EGD), which has redesigned several of Europe’s most exciting golf courses including 2023 Ryder Cup venue Golf Club Marco Simone and the West Course at Wentworth, was selected for the work following a full review of both championship courses with agronomy experts, Turfgrass. The assessment highlighted where playing conditions can be improved and how the courses can better challenge the modern style of the game.
Bunker shape and positioning; green size, shape and contouring; as well as herringbone drainage and irrigation upgrade work on holes 12, 13, 14 and 15 of the Longcross will take place over the coming months, while tee positions will also change on several holes to bring hazards more in play and encourage more strategy and creativity throughout the round.
But it is on the 16th hole where the most complex part of the renovation project will take place, with work already having begun to transform the par-three into a signature hole. A pond, which currently sits too far away from the green to influence club selection, will be extended to the putting-surface edge to create a more dramatic hole. The size of the green will also be increased to provide room for additional pin locations and a new bunker will be built on the left side of the green to remove the temptation of bailing out.
Phase two is scheduled to begin in summer 2023, with attention turning to improvements across the rest of the back nine on the Longcross before moving onto the Bernard Hunt in 2024.
Overseeing the work will be new director of golf, Sean Graham, who has been promoted after spending nearly five years working at the Ottershaw-based venue as head of golf operations and retail after returning to the UK in 2018 from three years in Saudi Arabia.
The 29-year-old’s new role caps an incredible rise in the industry for Graham - who graduated as a PGA professional in 2014 from the University of Birmingham.
Graham said: “Being given the opportunity to become director of golf here at Foxhills Club & Resort is a really proud moment for me. It’s reward for how hard I feel I’ve worked since joining Foxhills five years ago and it’s also hopefully a reflection of my relationship with the members. I feel like I have a real connection with the club, so it’s a really gratifying moment for me and I can’t wait to get started.
“This is an extremely exciting time for golfers at Foxhills. The course changes are going to make a big difference to the playing experience. It’s important to us that the courses are enjoyable for all levels of golfer, from low handicappers to mid-high and the masterplan for this project was designed with this at the front of our mind.”
Tej Walia, Foxhills’ general manager, said: “We are constantly striving to improve the member and guest experience. This golf investment plan, the largest scale of investment we have ever put into the courses, is going to raise golf at Foxhills to a new level. The work that’s being carried out is testament to our owner’s commitment to continued improvement and desire to be up there in the conversation with the best courses in the country.”
Alongside two 18-hole championship layouts and the Manor Course, a par-three nine-hole course, as well as a short game Practice Den and driving range, Foxhills offers an award-winning gym and HealthSpa, five swimming pools, 11 tennis courts, a packed schedule of weekly fitness classes, three restaurants and a 66-bedroom hotel.