This is a modern golf and leisure complex that doesn’t like to sit still and the steady growth in popularity of the club since its opening in 1995 has enabled the family ownership to put investment back into the course and facilities.
Leamington and County GC, one of the busiest member clubs in the West Midlands, has the experience of over 100 years of golfing tradition combined with a healthy modern attitude to bringing new golfers into the game.
The club have undertaken some course developments of late, the MG editors came over a couple of years ago while they were ongoing. Now complete, it was time for a recap in summer 2019. And it was summer we found too, right in the midst of the June drought was when we revisited, a sweltering hot Warwickshire afternoon.
Quite a beginning in store, the first is a 487 yard par five and all you can see is the crest of the hill around 200 yards from the tee, then it runs blind, downhill towards the green. On a day such as this there was naturally a bit of extra run, so there we were with a mere 170 yards to go over the running ditch to the green. Mid handicappers like Andy and I don’t get too many eagle putts, and weren’t destined to this time as the approaches went awry, but what a rewarding first hole this could be.
Possible further joy can be gained at the next two, both of which only just tip over the 300 yard mark. A little tight and undulating with tree trouble very evident but your straight hitting and good club selection will be rewarded.
It was one thing to enjoy the benefit of a bit of extra length from the tee but the greens were under scrutiny too, in unusually long dry spells such as these could they still reward and hang on to a good approach? The answer was an unequivocal yes – very impressive to enjoy such receptiveness in bone dry conditions when we got one right, the importance of being rewarded for a good shot should never be underestimated.
Some hard work and regular maintenance to the putting surfaces during the winter months has produced great results, Leamington’s greens are currently as good as they’ve ever been.
Moving on and further highlights during a very enjoyable front nine come at the fifth, a great dog leg hole with a downhill approach in prospect to a green that slopes from front to back. The seventh is another par five, all straight ahead with the courses largest water feature in range of a driver on the left.
Both nines finish by the clubhouse and you’ll be ready for a drink after the ninth which runs uphill to a demanding putting surface.
The closing stretch tees off with a lovely full on view of a short par four, across the valley to another raised green, then it’s signature hole time, and this one a little bit special.
MG Pick: 11th 129 yards Par 3 Absolutely pretty as a picture, framed with tall pines all the way to the green. For a moment it’s like you’re in a completely different place. Not a lot more than a wedge in and a receptive green awaits, but stray off it and it gets very tricky indeed.
Spare some energy and keep the skill level high for a very testing closing stretch that has a bit of everything. The longest hole at 14 with a bit of a carry from the tee, the longest par three at 15, well defended by its bunkering, then a shorter par four at 16, keep out of the fairway ditch on this one.
The 17th has had a bit of work done, a new raised tee and aesthetically much improved, two good hits needed to find another sloping putting surface.
Finally the same valley that runs through the 10th also stars at the closing hole, but this time it’s a par three and an awesome test for club selection which you must get right. The sideways facing green is cut into the bank with two punishing little traps awaiting anything that comes up short.
We scrambled a pair of bogeys and walked back to the clubhouse, hot and a bit tired but what a super round of golf. The new routing is a seamless transition and definitely for the better.
Time for a much needed drink and a sandwich. A very large range of dishes on the bar snack menu, served in the spacious lounge which opens out to a real sun trap of a terrace area, overlooking the course. Elsewhere, a range of rooms are available to provide space for social events and conferences and the club restaurant is very highly regarded too.
Headed by head professional Chris Thornton, this is one of the region’s most forward thinking clubs in terms of teaching individual golfers and especially Get into Golf schemes for a full range of new players. The club’s practice facilities include their superb indoor academy suite, which includes three driving nets, GC2 and full custom fit/club repair services.
Drayton Park Golf Club is situated on the same entrance lane in Tamworth, Staffordshire as Drayton Manor theme park. Turn right for the roller coasters, it’s left for a more subtle ride, costing less – and far more rewarding.
The club, then known as “Tamworth Golf Club”, was founded in October 1897 and its first home was at Glascote, Tamworth. Local residents protested at the fencing off of the land, over which they had previously had free access. The first subscription was ten shillings (50p) for gentlemen and nothing for ladies.
The club moved to land in Bonehill in 1912 and became a limited company in 1922. The number of members rapidly grew, requiring an increase in the number of holes from 9 to 18, and as the necessary land was not available at Bonehill, the club moved again to its present location in 1935/36.
Situated in parkland formerly part of the Drayton Manor estate, the seat of the Peel family – of which Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the police force, was the most famous – the course was designed and set out by James Braid, five times winner of the British Open Golf Championship.
There’s always a little bit of extra confidence in quality when you visit a James Braid designed course for the first time. They don’t normally alter much over their lifespan, maybe the odd tee goes back a little to counter the advances in modern technology but that’s generally about it. Braid layouts always stand the test of time, and this is a prime example.
MG editor Phil was joined on the round by the first couple of Midlands Golf, Mandy and Jean-Louis. Mandy, a Staffs county player is very familiar with DPGC and soon went on to smoothly plot her way around the course. JL was less knowledgeable, Phil was just plain rusty! Their woes on the day epitomised what this course is all about, early generosity from the tee is soon replaced by a sterner examination as the ever tighter fairways and well placed bunkering which form the course’s best defences really can bite. But despite the struggles, the boys did manage to salvage themselves some pride with sharp short games and a few good putts that were rewarded on the smooth and true greens.
So keep it in check and nice and straight from the tee and a good score is achievable, and then you can fully appreciate the surroundings just that little bit more too. It’s a soothing environment, peaceful and serene with a different look for each passing season. Occasional water features are dotted about, look out for the well fed carp underneath the bridge that takes you from 10 to 11 looking for a morsel or two from a passing golfer.
Holes fluctuate in challenge, and there’s so much evidence of Braid’s influence here, and his liking for a tease, you’ll find that not everything is always quite as it seems. Some lovely short holes too such as the picturesque sixth above, all are well defended and give you a good test to make par if you slip off the dance floor a little.
— Midlands Golfer (@MidlandsGolfer) June 28, 2020
The ninth takes you back to the clubhouse, so a two hour round is always a possibility here. The inward stretch continues the high quality quite effortlessly with a stretch of lovely holes, the 14th is a scenic wonder, a short four at the far side of the course, out of bounds right, trees and woodland increasing in strength the further you go up on the left side. Then a great challenge for the lads, the 17th is a par three for the ladies but at 260 yards it’s one the biggest tempters in the Midlands as a short par four. Very narrow sight from the tee but if you can keep it straight the possibility of an eagle putt is a realistic one.
No glory for the MG boys but never mind, we enjoyed a great round and the on course conditioning which has gone up a level ever since Course Manager Dale Housden took over a couple of years ago was absolutely spot on. Like many other local venues, they’ve worked tirelessly here during lockdown to maintain and improve the quality of the course for the returning members to enjoy. The big increase in membership here since May 13th is testament to that.
Classic Art Deco styled clubhouse built in 1936. Single floor with large lounge/dining room with course views. Sports Bar and snooker table. Range of menus on offer.
Pro shop/practice – New youthful shop team Dan Whitby-Smith and Matt Fieldsend now have a full range of teaching facilities including their Trackman launch monitor. The most accurate high speed digital camera system available takes the guess work out of coaching and custom fitting. Outdoors is a new short game area with three target greens and practice bunker.
Located in an elevated setting on the outskirts of the town and bordered partly by Uttoxeter racecourse, this is one of the region’s best kept secrets, a club celebrating 50 years in existence in 2020.
The club originally opened in 1970 as a nine hole venue with a further nine added later when the land became available. The course sits on a hillside and provides lovely views of the racecourse and across the Dove Valley to the edge of The Peak District in the far distance. What you’ll learn as you go along is that this is one for the creative and adventurous minded, those looking for a flat out and back bit of parkland are going to have their eyes opened. But if you’re anything like the MG fourball that took on Uttoxeter on a balmy late May Friday evening in May, you’re going to absolutely love it.
The opening holes take you through a contoured and tight pathway down to the bottom corner of the course where the racecourse is situated, no need to reach for driver just yet although you may find a dash at the 251 yard second difficult to resist.
The knowing Uttoxeter member will plot a mid iron route around the tight corners and blind alleys of the early holes, an unknowing visitor might be tempted to adopt a bolder approach (guilty as charged!)
Another seemingly driveable two-shotter comes along at the seventh and quite uniquely the tee shot to this one sits very adjacent to the starting stalls, a potential distraction you just aren’t likely to find anywhere else. From the eighth onwards though, any runners and riders that are about will fade into the far distance as you head to the highest points of the course with a spell of eye catching and inspiring driving holes through tree lined valleys.
A few lengthier challenges do come along later on, so you will eventually find some use for the driver. The 15th is a stunning long par four, a gentle dog leg and a big ask to find the distant green in two over the ravine.
The 18th is a great finishing hole – a lovely par four that shows you a great view of the final elevated green and clubhouse for one last approach shot from the valley floor. A photogenic and fitting finish to a golf course packed with charm and challenge. Considering the terrain, Uttoxeter handles the weather pretty well and you’ll get a game on full tees and greens in all but the most extreme of conditions.
MG Pick – 12th 172 yards Par 3
One of the most inspiring and picturesque short holes in Staffordshire. The 12th has it all, a gorgeous view from the raised tee and a big test ahead, the greenside pond, bunkers and trees plus a left to right sloping green all lie in wait to ensure that a par is very well earned. Image below shows the 12th looking back up to the tee.
Head professional Adam McCandless has a well stocked shop with good practice facilities on hand. A great society venue too, with 7 day a week availability and some competitive packages to play and relax in the clubhouse in a welcoming environment with a good range of refreshment options. If you live close by, you could do a lot worse than to consider membership here, always lots going on competitively and socially. A proud member run club that does things right.