Heythrop Park

Case Study Details

Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire, England
Date of Opening:
Golf Course Architect:
Tom Mackenzie
Mackenzie & Ebert
Landscape & Ecosystems, Water, Energy, People & Communities,

Key Theme: Landscape and Ecosystems

This project is an example of how an important 18th century parkland design has been restored through the introduction of sympathetically design golf course.

The park at Heythrop dates back to the 17th century, but its design was first recorded in 1707. It is a landmark project in the history of the English Landscape Design School for a number of reasons, including having the first freeform design in the Serpentine Walk, the first recorded Bowling Green and an incredibly complex geometric parkland design. The second half of the 20th century saw many of the trees reaching maturity and dying without being replaced correctly. Much of the valued design was being lost.

Heythrop Park

Heythrop Park

Agreement was reached with the authorities to remove an old nine hole course and to create a new eighteen hole course provided at least 95% of the original design of the park was restored. The golf was designed around this original design, even though much of that design was no longer in existance. After lengthy research and fieldwork, the golf course was built and the much of the parkland has been restored. The remaining work forms part of a Historic Landscape Management Plan.

The golf was designed around the existing landscape, so that original features of the landscape were retained and restored, including old ponds and dry stone walls. This virtually eliminated impact on existing habitat and has connected areas together with tall meadow areas.

Other Themes:


The irrigation system is fed from a winter storage reservoir that is topped up using water that is harvested from fairways in adjacent areas of the course. The remainder of the water is taken from a stream, under licence, between the end of November and the end of March.

Energy and Resources

Conventional grass types known to be suited to the English climate have been used. Cultivars were selected for their disease resistance and overall good performance under close cutting, minimising the need for input with pesticides.

An area where rubble and building debris had been dumped in the parkland was removed and reinstated as part of the construction process.

People and Communities

This is a hotel course, so it is open to the public. Public footpaths and bridleways cross the course as well. Groups interested in the landscape design are welcome to visit.

The estate will continue to be managed using the framework set out in the Historic Landscape Management Plan.

Golf Course Design
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