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New home for The Bedfordshire


The Bedfordshire, at 108 the oldest golf club in the county, has survived the threat of extinction.

Four years ago, the club's landlords announced they would not renew its lease in 2000 having arranged with Bedford Borough Council to build 900 houses and a road on the 98-acre site. Although there were plans for a new, profit-making course elsewhere in Biddenham, The Bedfordshire, a members' club, would not be invited to move there.

A development committee was set up to investigate how to ensure the club's survival and a recommendation to acquire 155 acres of freehold farmland two miles away at Stagsden was adopted. The members are financing the 3.4 million venture with a 10-year share scheme and so far 580 out of 750 have joined. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club has also made a grant of 50,000 towards the costs.

At Stagsden, members will have a championship-length 18-hole course, a much larger clubhouse, a floodlit driving range and, by next year, a nine-hole par-three academy course.

The course has been designed by Cameron Sinclair, former president of the British Institute of Golf Course Architects, and built by Land Unit Construction.

"In contrast with the old site at Biddenham, the new site has much more movement in the ground," said Sinclair. "I spent a lot of time on the site working out the most efficient layout that used the natural landforms and avoided the need for major earth movement. That said I did need to do some alterations to the landforms but I set out to achieve an end product which flowed and appeared natural. I am also pleased to say that The Bedfordshire is not an aquatic golf course. Water has been used for strategy only at the 14th and 15th holes where lakes have been created at the low point of the site.

"My favourite hole is probably the 17th. The hole plays across a natural sweeping valley dog-legging slightly to the right with the flow of the ground. On the inside of the dog-leg a natural fold in the ground has been used to provide a setting for some bold bunkering. The result is a dramatic hole in harmony with the existing landforms and demonstrates my design philosophy quite neatly."


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