I first met Tim when he came to one of the early Club Inc. networking events which were followed up by a very enjoyable dinner, thanks to Toro, at the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah.
I recently read that Tim had been elected the President of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects for the next two years and reached out to him to see if we could meet and chat about how the golfing boom had impacted golf architects.
Tim agreed and gave me a list of courses he has or is working on where we could meet. One club stood out, Tandridge, as I had heard so many good things about the course but never had the chance to visit.
Australian-born Tim Lobb EIGCA has worked in golf course design for 25 years. After starting his career in Melbourne, Tim moved to Kuala Lumpur and in 1998 settled in the UK where he worked with European Golf Design and later formed a partnership with Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett. Based in Surrey, UK, Tim formed LOBB + PARTNERS in 2016 and has additional offices in Canada and South Korea.
Tim, ever the professional, had invited the Course Director at Tandridge Peter Allington and the Course Manager Scott Weale to join us to play the course. I am a huge fan of Harry Colt courses and my expectations were very high.
Tim explained that as President of ECGIA he wanted to get across the point that golf course architects have the power to shape the future. He and his counterparts need to design courses that are relevant in modern-day society. It is our chance, now, in a post-COVID world, to bring families and young people into golf creating facilities that make golf interesting and fun.
Driving ahead with the message that the design of a course is fundamental to safeguarding the future of golf. We need to stress how the design of courses helps promote the game of golf, for all.”
Tim has three main themes:
- Collaboration – a greater collaboration with other international associations to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences to achieve a broad understanding of our industry from a global perspective
- Awareness – seek an enhanced appreciation in the wider (non-golfing) community of the positive environmental effect of well-considered golf course design
- Impact – encourage stakeholders in the wider golf industry to understand and appreciate the importance of our expertise and the fundamental impact they have on the future of golf for all.
Tim and I took on Peter and Scott, who used to be a Euro-Pro Tour player before changing his career and working under John Lockyer at The Wisley. Tim had been appointed by Tandridge back in 2019 to undertake a strategic review including an depth historical analysis.
The design work at Tandridge is ongoing with construction works now underway. The 1st Green was out of action on my visit due to the work being done to the bunkers and the surrounds of the green which looked most impressive. Peter explained that the Course Evolution project will take around 5 years to complete, working on 2 or 3 holes each year. This year, work will concentrate on the 1st & 9th holes, together with the enlargement of some teeing areas.
Like so many clubs I have visited, the club is now investing in the course not only in its design but also in an irrigation system to be installed in 2022 (Irritech have been appointed as their Consultants for this project), better equipment and an excellent Course Manager.
Scott and Tim have a great relationship and agree on the programme that has been outlined. Scott lives in a lovely house just a few yards from the 6th hole from his front door and a few yards from his office and the club’s maintenance facility from his back door and would appear to be either playing or working most of the time.
Having been a very good playing professional Scott understands how Tim wants to bring the course to life as Colt had intended back in 1924. As we played the front nine Tim showed me how he was redefining bunkers and Scott was showing me cut lines and definitions.
Reaching the 10th Peter left us and we were joined by Luke Edgcumbe who had been the General Manager of Tyrrells Wood where I had started my golf as a junior member. Luke’s journey has taken him to Sundridge Park and then to Royal Mid-Surrey where he enjoyed a long tenure before joining Tandridge in early 2020.
The back nine is wonderful with the 12,13th and 14th being the pick of the holes and are known as Colt’s Corner. Luke informed that the club gives a bottle of champagne to visiting Societies for the person who scores the least on these three holes. Anyone making par or better has done extremely well.
The Tandridge team beat Tim and me but we did manage to take the game to the very last hole. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Tandridge which is another hidden gem that I would urge people to play. The team Peter and his Board colleagues have put into place are very professional and I will watch with interest over the next couple of years, confident in the fact that the outcome will be impressive and one that Colt would have thoroughly approved of.
Tim has taken over the helm of EIGCA, at a most exciting time for golf Architects with so many new builds being discussed and clubs investing in redesigns and refurbishments of their courses so as to keep up with the expectations of their members.
There are 110 members of the EIGCA, and Tim would like to see this number grow and encourage Women to join and stay with the association. I know from our panellist discussions for the Top 100 Course ratings Ladies’ tees are often overlooked and in line with Tim’s vision to attract families and young people, these will be so important to attract girls and their Mum’s to take up and enjoy the game.
For the whole of the golf industry, it’s an exciting time and we look to leaders like Tim to continue to take advantage of the forward momentum and deliver great designs for the foreseeable future.
Until next time