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.
We’ve been featuring Nuneaton Golf Club on a regular basis in the magazine ever since 2012, it’s been a satisfying story to see this Warwickshire club buck the trend a little and actually increase membership numbers and society traffic too. Much of the reason for this can be attributed to the conditioning of the golf course, one which didn’t always cope too well with wet winters.
But times have changed, and in 2018 we’ve also endured a wet spring, could the improved Nuneaton cope with that as well? We went over in mid May for a fresh review.
The course is a parkland beauty, easy walking with lots of little water hazards dotted about, ponds and running streams.
It takes a little while for their influence to be felt but that doesn’t mean you’re in for a gentle introduction to the course. Far from it in truth as decent length, well placed bunkering and sloping greens give you plenty to think about early doors. Stroke index 1 menacingly comes early at the third; most play this as a bogey hole. A bit of damage limitation there, but following on is your first short hole, an equally good challenge, but also a delightful looking tree and shrub lined beauty.
Things open out a little after that and then the water makes a proper entrance, threatening your approach on the 377 yard eighth (below), get as far down the fairway as you can, a short iron in is a much easier prospect.
The front half closes with another demanding long par four. It travels uphill and back to the clubhouse very conveniently for those who just have time for nine but it’s a tough old challenge for sure.
It’s from the 11th to the 15th where we believe the course really comes into its own, a lovely stretch of holes where water of some description is always present, but not always in full view either. A few other hidden hazards should encourage a bit of care and attention, truly a spell for the course management specialists.
It all comes to a highly satisfying conclusion at the signature 15th here. A beautiful hole, put the brakes on your tee shot in front of the water and then it’s a high shaping short iron to the green tucked away in a tree clad corner, very satisfying when they work out well!
Two par fives at 16 and 18 with a short one in between to finish off, Nuneaton is a thoroughly enjoyable walk and it was good to get our own confirmation over just how much it has come on in the last six years.
The course is maintained to a very high standard and the greens are consistent, true and very slick in the summer months. Extra investment in course conditioning has clearly paid dividends and resulted in vastly improved playability – they’ve done a great job here.
The off-course facilities are impressive too, ‘Sulli’s Bar’ is named after Nuneaton’s famous golfing son, Andy Sullivan, a comfy 19th hole for club members and visitors to enjoy a drink and snack. Next door the first floor restaurant and function room seats up to 120 for all occasions. The newly refurbished balcony area with patio tables has lovely course views and is a nice spot to enjoy an after round pint on a sunny evening.