Forse Golf Design is moving forward with the renovation of Colgate University’s Seven Oaks Golf Course in Hamilton, New York.
Golf at Colgate dates back to 1916 when the Hamilton Golf Club was founded. Initially a nine hole course, a second nine was added on the top of “the hill” behind the student dormitories two years later. In 1927, golf course architect Thomas Winton redesigned the layout and it was renamed Seven Oaks.
In the mid-1930s, the university hired professional golfer Gene Sarazen to replace the original course with a new 18-hole course on the newly acquired Dunn Farm, an area northeast of the main campus where is located now the first 12 holes of Seven Oaks. located. Sarazen, assisted by Stanley Thompson and Robert Trent Jones Sr., hoped to build a course “just the way he wanted”.
“After examining the square footage of Colgate, he [Sarazen] came to the conclusion that this was exactly the type of leaflet that would allow him to build such a course ”, Hamilton Republican reported January 11, 1934.
“The vision for the Sarazen course was never realized,” said Jim Nagle of Forse Golf Design. “However, in the late 1930s Jones ventured away from Stanley Thompson and received the design commission for the Seven Oaks course. He did a lot of field studies and completed an 18 hole design, with individual hand sketches and explanations for each hole. The sketches and explanations are fascinating and give an insight into his early design ideas. Ultimately the course was reduced to a nine hole course which was built in 1955. A second nine was added in the late 1960s.
JS Hope, Colgate University CFO and Project Chairman, said: “Almost 10 years ago I spent time in the Rare Books Room at Cornell Library and walked through the work. of Jones that he gave to college. We found great information about the Seven Oaks project that we were excited to share with an architect. For years Seven Oaks didn’t really have a long-term plan, so we wanted to take the time to develop a plan that could be used within the resources allowed. Once Fors got involved with us, we knew they were the perfect long-term partner.
The university hired Forse Golf Design with the aim of improving all the features of the course and undertaking some tree management. “There is also a strong desire to re-establish Seven Oaks as one of the first college courses in the United States,” Nagle said. “The course was often included in the Golf summary top 30 college courses, but in recent years they’ve fallen off the list. “
Forse Golf Design attempts to add more options for challenge, interest, and strategic shots throughout the layout. “The course has many ditches and a large stream that winds through the property and comes into play on many holes,” Nagle said. “The layout is devoid of fairway bunkers while all the greens have adjacent bunkers. Our plan continues to use streams and ditches as fairway bunkers are added where appropriate to improve the game and better engage golfers.
“The greens at Seven Oaks are excellent and nicely contoured and therefore only require some expansion. The first, second and sixteenth greens are too sloped for today’s maintenance regimen, and each will be softened. The entire second green will be rebuilt, while parts of the first and sixteenth will be leveled.
Other aspects of the plan include adding new front and rear tees, overhauling the practice facilities and driving range, and creating a new putting green.
Contractor Mottin Golf began work at Seven Oaks on August 2, with the course remaining open throughout.
The project will see all existing bunkers renovated, while some will be removed and others added. The Capillary Concrete coating system will be installed with Covia Bestsand Signature 700 sand. Rain Bird takes care of the irrigation while the university’s project manager is Jason Minor.
“Golfers will see changes to many green environments,” Nagle said. “Each green on the course is either a bunker on both sides or a bunker on one side with a water hazard on the other. Our intention is to remove various bunkers and create runoff areas or widened collars that introduce a variety of shooting options around the greens. The game in sand or rough will now be supplemented by bump and runs, Texas wedges, puttings or other blows.
“Wider play lanes will be evident as we look to expand many fairways to complement the added fairway bunkers. This will provide strategic options from the start. Bunkers on the green and runoff areas will also improve angles taken with approaches. Many greens will be enlarged, re-establishing long-lost hole locations, providing opportunities for daring play in the new pin positions closer to the perimeter of the greens.
“Personally, the change I think most golfers will see is the ‘Big Risk’ which is added to the left of the thirteenth fairway. The hole is a short par foursome and previously the interior of the dogleg was a poorly drained rubbish area made up of field grasses, mounds, and depressions. Our intentions are to drain the area and create a sandy waste area. Inspiration comes from first in Philadelphia CC and sixteenth in Lancaster CC – both relatively short pars with very great danger of meandering sand inside the dogleg. The difference with the thirteenth at Seven Oaks will be that the area will be a real waste area – the existing sand on the course will be reused in the obstacle’s soil, while the fine fescue and barbon will be spread, the sand n ‘ being not maintained as regularly as other bunkers.
Forse Golf Design also aims to improve the views of the course, with particular emphasis on the look and style of the bunkers, as well as revealing the many subtle rolls, bumps and depressions that are currently less than two inches of rough. .
“When completed, I believe Superintendent Jon McConville and his team will be able to present the course to its ultimate potential,” said Nagle. “Jon has had great experience working on some of the best courses in the area as well as at Fenway CC for several years. Alumni and the surrounding community are extremely proud of Seven Oaks and our goal is to provide them with a truly fun, challenging and engaging course when it reopens next year.
Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2022.