In 2019 the Management Committee developed a blueprint to develop and modernise the golf course in order to allow the course to showcase its true potential. It set itself three challenging targets:
To become the highest ranked course in Bedfordshire, to become one of the best downland courses in Britain and to be ranked in the next Top 100 in England by 2025. Hence Project 2020 Vision was born! A key and essential aspect of 2020 Vision is to be sympathetic to James Braid’s original design philosophy.
2017 saw some key personnel changes at Dunstable Downs. The appointment of a new Course Manager, George Little, together with the backing and support by Greens' Chairman Kevin Carleton were key building blocks of the Club’s longer-term plans for the course. Both George and Kevin clearly recognise the potential of the course and their expertise and passion has been critical in the Management Committee’s confidence in investing in the plans going forward
In 2016, Dunstable Downs Golf Club started by commissioning John Nicholson Associates to produce a Woodland Management Plan to help restore and manage the landscape. In summary to…
Maintain and enhance the quality of the golf course
• Manage trees and shrubs adjoining greens to address a lack of light penetration, poor air circulation and competition for water and nutrient.
• To improve the general quality of grass sward by managing the trees and woodland and stopping encroachment into the line of play.
• To maintain the Downland element of the course.
Maintain and enhance the long-term landscape value of the course.
• Bring existing woodlands into management so their long-term impact on the landscape can be preserved.
• To maintain the views to the broader landscape, highlighting interesting features
• To provide a unified landscape character
Enhance the value of the course for wildlife.
• Thin existing woodland where appropriate to encourage development of natural regeneration of tree species and ground flora and a more diverse canopy structure.
• To control the invasion of scrub
• Favour native species
• To maintain the calcareous grassland
Ensure the safety of members, guests and employees
• Fell or make safe trees identified as potentially unsafe
Encourage long-term vision and continuity of management policy
• Ensure all proposals are specific, realistic, costed and regularly reviewed and updated.
The blueprint further included improvements to the general course aesthetics, particularly consistency of presentation. To deliver significant improvements to all playing surfaces; tees, greens, approaches, fairways and rough. To improve the course drainage requirements and a complete refurbishment of all bunkers and tees on the course.
In 2018, this programme started in earnest and has already delivered some amazing results: The opening up of the stunning views across five counties and seeing a gradual return of the unique downland flora that used to be prolific on the course.
In 2019, Phase 1 of the redevelopment project was completed including bunker refurbishment on a further 4 holes. If you haven’t played the course recently you will very quickly see the difference. The club also embarked on a new practice facility and short game area. For many years poor practice facilities were viewed by the members as being a major weakness, especially given that Dunstable Downs has many County and International players amongst its membership.
In 2020, an upgrade to the Clubhouse is well underway to complement the improvements that are taking place on the course.