David Williams Golf Design

David Williams Builds Two New Holes on “Seve Course” at Real Golf De Pedreña

The Championship Course at Real Golf de Pedreña, near Santander in northern Spain, a regular fixture in Spain’s Top 25 Golf Course listings, designed by Harry Colt and opened in 1928, is well known throughout the world of golf, not only for its challenging layout, which has hosted 3 Spanish Opens, but also in recent years because of its link with the late great Seve Ballesteros, who grew up overlooking the course and played all his early golf at the club.

The new downhill par 3 ninth closing hole

Much less well known is the 9 hole course at the club, designed by Seve himself and constructed about 20 years ago.  Whereas the Colt-designed 18 hole course sits on the top of the headland between the Bay of Santander on one side and the Rio Miera on the other, the Seve design occupies the much more sloping ground running around the main course, but with dramatic views of both the bay and the river.

The course is intended for beginners, those new to the game, seniors, ladies or anyone just wanting nine holes, without the rigours of the Championship Course.  However, as David explains “ The course wasn’t ideal, and in consequence, wasn’t getting the amount of play that it should.  Part of the reason for this was that it was built fairly inexpensively, so small greens and tees, and fairly narrow sloping fairways – as well as not receiving the same high quality of maintenance that was undertaken on the main 18 hole course.  I had therefore been asked by the club to look at possible improvements, to make the course more player-friendly and encourage more of the members to take advantage of the facility.

However, what became the main driver of the change was the decision made by the club to construct a large reservoir to collect the fairly substantial winter rains, and store them for use on both courses in the dry summer months.  With the overall site fairly constricted on the headland, the decision was made to site the reservoir on the 8th and 9th holes of the 9 hole course, effectively reducing it to only seven holes.”

David continues “ I was therefore asked to incorporate this decision into the re-design of the 9 hole course, a task made more difficult by the lack of any additional area to build them.  In agreement with the club, the decision was made to split the current par 4 second hole – a very sharp, virtually right-angled dogleg and therefore very unpopular with the members – into two par 3 holes, by the creation of a new 2nd green and 3rd tee complex, virtually in the angle of the previous dogleg.

The new dramatically downhill par 3 hole, with Rio Miera behind

The new second hole , just in excess of 150 metres in length, provides a dramatic downhill tee shot to a wide but narrow green, with a ridge tapering down from the back, dividing the green into two sections.  When the pin is positioned on the right hand side of the putting green, behind the front bunker, a testing “risk and reward” challenge is set to the player.

The other replacement hole was the new 9th, another par 3 played from the position of the original par 5 eighth tee.  However, the club explained a further complication in the design of the new hole.

On many occasions, members only play 15 holes of the Colt course, the first 15 holes; for example in the winter, on summer evenings, and the Seniors and Ladies sometimes play just 15 hole competitions, as there was a short walk from the 15th green back to the nearby clubhouse.  However, the construction of the new reservoir made that short walk impossible, requiring players to walk around much of its perimeter from 15th green to clubhouse, thereby negating the time advantage of only playing 15 holes,” David explains.

He continues “However, fortunately, our new 9th tee was very close and virtually next to the 15th tee of the Colt course, so the decision was made to construct the complete 9th hole to the same standard as that of the Championship Course, which had larger tees and greens than on its 9 hole counterpart, meaning that when the 9 hole course was quiet, members playing just 15 holes of the Colt course could use the 9th hole of the Seve course as their 15th and final hole.

The resultant hole, played just over 140 metres in length and downhill to a green of approx. 400 square metres in areas, would not be out of place on the main course, but certainly makes a fitting finale to the nine hole layout,” David concludes.

The construction of the two holes was undertaken in autumn 2018 by Spanish specialist golf course contractors, JeriGolf of Jerez, Andalucia  in southern Spain, who also renovated all aspects of the 12th and 18th holes of the Colt course at the same time during the same contract.