Dating back to 1897, Wentworth by the Sea Country Club started out with a 9-hole course laid out by George Wright that was later revised by Donald Ross. Geoffrey Cornish added nine new holes in the 1960s.
Former Senior Editor at GOLF Magazine, Brian
McCallen, commented as follows; “the current layout is a Yankee patchwork quilt
of a course, its original nine by Donald Ross (1910) later expanded to 18 holes
by Geoffrey Cornish. His protégé, Brian Silva, returned in the late 1990s to
create a handful of new holes, phase out old ones and add a little length and
coherence to a compact layout that plays nip and tuck with the sea.”
What started as a 9-hole layout and later expanded to 18-holes and feature the involvement of several different architects you get the resulting hodge-podge of design styles and hole types.
The course features holes split between two land areas. After the first three holes located on the main section where the bulk of the holes is located you cross over a portion of wetlands which is part of the adjoining Piscataqua River. The par-4 4th is a quality hole -- you commence from a narrow tee strip and play across the wetlands to a hole that turns slightly to the left and is reminiscent of a cape hole. Four other are located entirely on that side and they are sufficient but there's not enough differentiation to make them truly standout. At the par-3 9th you play back across the wetlands to the same side of land you originally commenced the round.
The 10th thru the 13th hole features pedestrian holes but things do get better when you reach the par-4 14th. The par-4 plays in a parallel direction to the wetlands and the green features one of the more challenging targets to safely land one's approach. The par-5 16th is a quality risk/reward hole tempting players to decide how much of the corner is worth taking on with one's tee shot.
The final two holes conclude the round in fine fashion -- the long par-3 17th features a well-defended green and the ending hole features a green fiercely protected by a fronting pond. Club selection into the target is pivotal since any approach not hit sufficiently is doomed.
Wentworth does permit guests who stay at the nearby Marriott and the facilities do provide a slew of different things to do. The golf is just crammed into a small piece of land and the diversity of holes is limited -- especially on the par-4 side as you have six par-3s and four par-5s.
Could the layout be better? Absolutely. The key in accomplishing that would be to provide for a genuine harmony of styles so that the finished product actually demonstrates a consistency lacking today. Adding four more par-4s would likely mean the reduction of two par-5s and two par-3s. Given the dollars involved it seems unlikely this would be done so Wentworth will therefore remain caught in a time loop of trying to be different things at the same time.
The course reminds me of someone who goes to a tailor and in the attempt to fit someone properly you leave the store looking with a suit that's ill-matched to one's body type. A thorough master plan carried out by an architect capable in tying things all together and in crafting a much more connected and riveting series of holes could elevate what Wentworth lacks now.
M. James Ward