Founded in 1899, Concord Golf Club is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious clubs. Members first played on a 9-hole then a 14-hole course – the last four were played twice to make 18. By 1907, the present 18-hole course had been created and this was restructured in 1916 by Dan Soutar after more land was acquired.
Fast forward some eighty years until 1996 when course architect Ross Watson was appointed to oversee the refurbishment of all tees, fairways, greens and bunkers – quite an overhaul of the course which saw it ready to face the modern day game in the new millennium.
Located near the Olympic site at Homebush, the course has hosted a number of professional tournaments, such as the Australian PGA, New South Wales Open, ANZ Championship and the 2004 Australian Ladies Open, won by Laura Davies.
Mark Parker was the course superintendent when the Watson changes were implemented and he made several changes of his own to the layout in 2009. The back to back par threes at the 9th and 10th holes became the right doglegged par four 10th and the par five 7th was changed to a long par three and a short, downhill par four.
Determined to cement Concord’s position in the upper echelons of the Australian Top 100, the club persuaded Tom Doak to completely renovate the course. Work started in September 2017 and in October 2018 the refashioned layout opened for the members.
Led by Renaissance’s senior design associate Brian Slawnik, with Doak personally overseeing the re-shaping of all greens, Concord Golf Club promises to be a serious force to be reckoned with once enough people get to see the remodel over the coming months and years. Renaissance is also involved in a restoration project at Victoria’s Yarra Yarra Golf Club.
Tom Doak kindly provided us with the following comments:
“Normally I prefer to stick to restoration in our consulting work. In a major renovation such as Concord, you are starting with 18 holes and finishing with the same, and it's only a matter of opinion whether the new course is better than the old one.
So, my first inclination was to turn down the work at Concord; but they kept asking, and eventually we were available, and my associate Brian Slawnik wanted to do the job. The property is fairly tight so we could not find too many tweaks to the routing; the main change to the course is a new set of 18 Doak greens, and much more variety in the recovery shots around them. Before, the greens were built on fill pads, and it seemed inevitable that a player like me would have 6-10 bunker shots per round. Now, there are a variety of pitches and chips and bunker shots, and the approaches and surrounds are couch grass so that chipping is a reasonable option (which it was not on the kikuyu fairways previously).
I've yet to play the revised front nine, but my favorite changes on the back side are the short par-4 13th with its Bill Coore-inspired arrowhead green, the straightaway par-4 17th with some fairway bunkers that must be avoided, and the finishing hole which was transformed from a left-to-right approach over lots of bunkers to a right-to-left punchbowl. In addition, check out the optical illusion at the par-3 14th!”
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Tom Doak studied Landscape Architecture at Cornell University where he won a scholarship to travel to the British Isles, he then spent seven months on the road, literally living on the links.