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.
The Nottinghamshire is continuing to impress as it settles in as a fully fledged resort destination, the ideal 36 hole play and stay break.
Increased investment by businessman owner Alan Hardy has led to a transformation to the Signature course and the creation and opening of The Residence, 18 new onsite hotel bedrooms. That was in 2016, since then they’ve also revamped their clubhouse and pro shop facilities and added 12 more rooms. They’re on a mission here to take this place to exalted heights but success cannot be judged by investment alone, the experience when you are here and attention to society detail is the most important factor of all, they know their customer service here too.
GOLF – 36 holes of Championship length parkland
The Championship Course – (previously The Open Course) – 6,341 yards (white tees)
A superb modern designed golf course where you are thrown straight into a stern water based challenge by way of the strategic short par five first and lakeside long par three second hole. It’s a theme that doesn’t diminish a whole lot and comes to a spectacular pinnacle at the 14th. This short hole boasts the ultimate society day penalty, find the lake here and face the prospect of something akin to ‘walking the plank’ – a trip to the drop zone, situated on a plinth surrounded by water. If there was ever a pressure point for society banter, it resides right here!
The Signature Course – (previously The Masters Course) – 6,032 yards (white tees)
The Signature has enjoyed a stunning transformation to bring it in line with The Championship, focussing around an all-new 18th hole, just a short par five of 463 yards, but those going for it in two had better check their yardages and know how to stop a ball on a putting surface. This is now a full island green and has probably taken signature status away from the former short 16th , which still retains it’s reputation as a classic hole but is now the 10th. The re-route has allowed two more par threes to sit together at 16 and 17 as a prelude to the final examination, an exciting conclusion in store to any round of golf.
With an equal commitment donated to course conditioning and greens quality, The Nottinghamshire’s progress caught the attention of England Golf. As a consequence they have just hosted the English Girls U-14 to U-18 Championships on both courses to great acclaim in 2017, the first time a single venue has held all age groups, a definite feather in the cap.
19th Hole – Ultra modern facilities all centered around The Lakeview Bar and Restaurant, with one of the more imaginative bar menus around, one that only encourages a relaxing experience. The restaurant itself serves evening meals seven days a week, a very popular Sunday Carvery and for the groups, there is a good range of society menus to pick from. You can also benefit from private first floor society suites with balcony access, looking over the golf courses on a sunny day.
The large club shop sits open planned, next door to the bar and the practice facilities include a nine bay floodlit range.
The Residence – “The final piece of the jigsaw”
Officially opened in 2016, the 18 brand new Boutique styled rooms are all individually styled and furnished with LCD TV’s and complimentary WI-FI. Rooms to suit for all occasions, society breaks, family gatherings and weddings too. Play and stay at The Nottinghamshire is fully open for business and this year, as part of a clubhouse renovation, 12 further bedrooms were added.
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.
The Cromwell Course once again played host to the MG Par 3 Championships on Saturday June 23rd, as 57 players, adults and juniors joined us at Nailcote Hall. Once again we ordered the weather well in advance, and once again it didn’t fail to disappoint.
The juniors came along this year thanks to Shires Junior Golf Tour who sponsor our junior section in the magazine. Along with them came the SJGT travelling scoreboard which was a welcome extra touch to proceedings.
Play teed off at 10.00, singles stableford with the first of two groups, both on shotgun starts. All the dozen kids who took part teed off in the early group and we were treated to some delightful looking young swings in action as the Shires juniors shone early. Gracie Murray (14 points) and Joseph Hyde (17), both from Kettering GC played solidly as did Corey Neville from Northants County. However the leading junior after round one was Oscar Bell (Rutland Water GC) with 18 points.
As for the adults, their stricter handicap rules made scoring a little harder as The Cromwell Course took its usual prisoners, Chris Hooper from Kenilworth managed to get to 18 points himself though to lead.
At 11.45 the second group took to the course for their first nine, all adults this time with a mix of familiar faces to MG events over the years, our own ambassadors and a couple of new fourballs, a team from Hinckley GC and a new society with us for the first time, Napton GS from Warwick.
Three players managed 17 points, Mark Walker, James Whitehouse from Ludlow GC and one of the Hinckley boys, Steve Eaves.
Lunchtime saw the putting competition take place, see video clip below, always a popular and very addictive distraction.
The second rounds of nine teed off later and in the first group the scoring suffered a little, few managed the same sort of scoring as in the morning. As all of the kids were in the first group we soon knew of the final placings. Isaac Redding (Wellingborough GC) managed to add 16 to his score to finish in third place with 31 points, and Oscar couldn’t quite follow up his morning heroics but managed 14 to grab second. But it was Joseph Hyde who found consistency best over 18 holes, coming in with a further 18 points to take the junior title.
Of the adults in the first group, Shires organiser Paul Bull recorded a second 16 point tally to head the leaderboard from the early starters.
But the final group still had nine to play, teeing off at 3.15 and Northants golfer Rob Camplisson and James Whitehouse again were following up their early rounds well and getting into contention. Eventually they were both to tie on 31 points, and a rather amusing chipping play off ensued by the clubhouse lawn later on, to see which of them was to end up third. It turned out to be Rob in the end.
But one golfer was out there at the same time adding to his morning score with an even better effort later on. Steve Eaves, a four handicapper from Hinckley GC managed 18 points in the afternoon to comfortably win the MG Par 3 Championships with 35 points.
We all gathered on the club house lawn later for the presentation and a delicious BBQ served by the Nailcote staff.
A great end to a superb day and our thanks must go to Nailcote owner Rick Cressman and all of the staff there for their hospitality which is always first class. Compliments to Rick (below) and the greenkeeping team for getting the Cromwell course in the best shape we’ve ever seen it, so many words of praise from the players for the standard of the course.
Thanks to our sponsors too, Midlands Golf, Shires Junior Tour for bringing the juniors and Brewin Dolphin, our society section sponsors.
The trophies are off to be engraved and will sit on Joseph’s and Steve’s mantelpieces for a year until we return in June next year for another MG Par 3 Championships.
The family owned and run Manor (Kingstone) GC, situated on the outskirts of Uttoxeter is a club on the rise, and there’s no better time to discover its unique charms than in mid-summer.
Countryside charm in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside, from the clubhouse balcony you can literally see for miles over fields of peaceful farming land. That’s how The Manor got started back in 1992, as a local farming family decided to do something completely different with their land, firstly as a nine hole course, then not long after they made it up to the full 18.
They’ve worked tirelessly ever since, USGA greens have been added to almost half of the holes and course definition improves year on year. New tee signage is in place for this summer. It’s been a real labour of love for the family and it hasn’t always been plain sailing, but what they do have at their disposal, and it’s 100% natural, is absolute beauty in their surroundings.
From the higher points, enjoy the panoramic views and some inspiring looking tee shot sights. From the lower parts of the golf course, enjoy two beautiful looking riverside stretches, peaceful and teaming with the local wildlife population, just take care that your ball doesn’t join them!
The golf course measures in at just over the 6,000 yard mark but tends to play a little longer than that, as changes of elevation are frequent. Although there are a few ups and downs it’s never too tough to walk and there’s plenty of variety out there to enjoy, something to test every club in the bag.
A water aperatif at the fourth, ‘Ivor’s Island’ which in past times was basically a long iron off the tee followed by a wedge over the pool to a large green. A little too easy it seemed, and lately they have pushed the tee back significantly, a far tougher proposition awaits now.
Before and after the river gets involved you get a pair of strikingly similar monster par fives, one for each nine, both of which stretch all the way to 570 yards of length. Wonderful driving holes that offer width and friendliness from high tees, and they both come with the most glorious of backdrops. The closer you get to the business end though, they toughen up, with narrowing fairways and two slippery, well contoured greens to find. All in all mid handicappers can consider themselves pretty proud if a couple of pars can be achieved here at the third and later on at the 17th.
If the beasts are tamed you’ll enjoy the beauty just that little bit more, From the lower parts of the golf course, enjoy two gorgeous looking riverside stretches, three holes on the front nine and your signature challenge later on. One of the loveliest spots in Staffordshire to play golf, peaceful and teaming with the local wildlife population.
In amongst this variable collection of holes sit some very pretty short ones, deserving plenty of respect, more than their modest yardage suggests. Nice example at the 16th, a lovely looking hole with an elevated tee attracting any swirling breezes that might be around. The recently added front bunker on this par three has made it lot tougher than it used to be.
MG Pick – 14th hole 277 yards Par 4
Named ‘Enigma’ and aptly too, where the River Blithe winds its way all the way down the left side and dares you take on the full length from its tall tee. If you can draw the ball around the corner and miss the water threat, a receptive green awaits and a certain birdie surely, maybe even better………..easier said than done though!
The closing hole is of slightly less yardage, but turns a corner and travels uphill, the society guy chasing late points to win the day might fancy cutting the corner and trying to at least get very close to the green, a very well defended one though.
19th hole – When it’s all over and you’ve hopefully conquered a lovely course with all of its quirks you must stick around to enjoy the very friendly facilities, cosy club room and lovely home cooked food whilst relaxing with a well earned pint. Enjoy the special welcoming spirit that the on hand family team have created here, it is the friendliest club we know.
Plus if you’ve been fortunate enough to play on a sunny day, take your pint outside for a seat on the balcony and recount your triumphs and woes with a view to die for, over practically the whole course and miles beyond, it’s a special spot.
Pro Shop – The Manor’s first full time professional Phil Cary has been here for three years now, revamping the club shop and marketing the club efficiently too, which has seen a big rise in society numbers. The club’s first junior academy, under Phil is just getting under way this year over on the practice ground, running alongside the first hole. Extra buggies are now available to hire.
Take a weekend this year to sample the raw charms of this glorious Mid Wales location. Not only one of the UK’s finest links, now a fully fledged play and stay venue too.
Voted among the Top 100 courses in Britain, a wild and windswept expanse of land awaits with a network of winding ditches as almost invisible hazards around thick wispy rough and indigenous plants. The fairways offer fluctuating width and in true links tradition the humps and bumps are there too. Yet if the bounces don’t quite go your way, the large and generally flat and friendly greens will give you a chance to claw something back.
Aberdovey is a classic out and back design with famous names attached, messrs Braid, Fowler and Colt all played a hand here. The huge dunes that form the defences prevent a sea view from all but one spot, but you can’t miss the sound of crashing waves on a windy day.
A splendid quirk here is that all four short holes point towards a different direction on the compass. The first example is ‘Cader’, a fearsome reputation has been gathered by this third hole over the years. The punchbowl green is more or less blind from the tee and flanked by spots that you really don’t want to find yourselves in, a potential card wrecker for sure.
The way back takes you alongside the railway line for an exhilarating spell of holes to end the round in fine style. The 16th is true risk and reward, just 281 yards of length along the side of the railway line where the fairway humps and bumps govern your fortunes should you dare to have a dash at it.
MG Pick: 12th 132 yards Par 3 – Re-designed beautifully following storm damage during the winter of 2014. It still retains a beachside location, just a little more set back but the breezes get through and you may be amazed at the club you’ll need to reach for from the tee with just a flapping flagstick in sight as your target.
A spacious clubhouse with two lounges and a sit down restaurant can accommodate groups of all sizes. Both bar snack and A La Carte menus are superb with freshly sourced local ingredients. A tip………. stay traditional by checking out the Welsh Rarebit on the menu, simply delicious.
Play and Stay
The golf club offers accommodation in the form of six twin-bedded rooms overlooking the 18th green. All rooms are en-suite with TV’s and tea/coffee making facilities. Packages can be arranged with the club.
Take the train
Not quite as daft an idea as it might sound, it’s a scenic and relaxing train ride to Aberdovey on the Cambrian line, and the station is situated no more than a gap wedge from the pro shop. Consider an alternative form of transport, like Kris did.
The Society Guy – Kris Bates (Coventry Police GS)
Aberdovey…….an absolute jewel. It’s said to be a home to the Brummies, and the first chap I met on arrival just happened to be from Coleshill, 10 minutes from my home!
I travelled by train from New Street Birmingham. It’s a three hour journey with a quick change but when you arrive what a pleasure it is to walk about 100 yards from the train to the golf club. You can see how close by it is above!
The course, it is so pristine, glorious green fairways next to the seaside! Stunning views all around. 16, 17 and 18 are a such a lovely finish. The only down side to playing Aberdovey is that no sooner have you teed it up on the first, you’re playing the 18th……it’s so lovely you just switch off and time flies by.
A 36 hole venue set in a delighful countryside setting on the outskirts of Cardiff, easy to find and totally tailor made for society trips. Cottrell Park celebrated 20 years of existence in 2016 and is constantly moving further forward. In a golfing area rich in quality and quantity too, their progress has been impressive, culminating in the honour of being awarded the Welsh Golf Club of the Year for 2015. They have also recently been awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence for the fourth year running in 2018.
Golf – Mackintosh Course – 6,450 yards Par 71 (white tees)
Both layouts were designed to Championship standard and both have equal amounts of attention lavished on them. The Mackintosh is a gently undulating parkland layout notable in looks for its collection of 300 year old mature trees that dominate the landscape. Some of them sit in the middle of the fairways requiring some good course management and club selection. It’s a theme that continues all the way round, with a few dog legs to conquer and some blind shots out there too. The greens are quite superb as well, very true and they do reward.
Favourite holes, the downhill and scenic short eighth, a lottery for club selection if it gets windy. Plus the 10th, a blind tee shot view over the bank but it all runs downhill following that, so some serious distance in prospect, even for the mid to high handicappers. The 18th, with its lovely flower and shrub arrangements around the water feature is a beauty.
Button Gwinnett Course 6,180 yards Par 71 (white tees)
The Button is a little different, open and exposed with lakes and water featuring on no less than 13 holes. It’s set on the other side of the club and offers many a view, over to the Bristol Channel early doors and then towards the close you’re treated to a lovely panoramic of The Vale of Glamorgan. Two particular areas of attention, the close of the outward half is something of a water world, with a new island green at the eighth, and a large pond in front of the short ninth.
The re-designed closing holes are where the best of the views reside, a bit of risk and reward on the 15th then the next plays homage to Augusta National’s 16th, water all the way down the left of this challenging par three (below).
Very tricky to pick a favourite course, there’s not much between them. But it matters not; you’re not coming all the way here to play one anyway! So enjoy both, relish the 36 holes of continuously fine conditioning from tee box to green, and make your own minds up.
19th hole – The golf is complimented nicely both before and after play. Many options for relaxation with restaurant, bar and sports lounge plus a snooker and pool room, all with very modern furnishings.
Part of a tailored group day at Cottrell can potentially include an early challenge on one of the club’s two indoor simulators. A large enough area to fit a good sized society around to take part, enjoy a breakfast roll and compete too with a longest drive competition or something similar.
Play and Stay at Cottrell Park – Last summer the complex added a further attraction for travelling golfers. Cottrell has recently converted accommodation which was originally the Coach House to the Cottrell House and within the majestic grounds. The Coach House comprises of two apartments and now offer a stay and play venue for the first time, sleeping up to a maximum of 10 persons each on a self-
catering basis with the club’s bars and restaurant in close proximity.
We’re testing Peter Baker’s professional knowledge this summer for a collection of noble causes. Its Majors time and a repeat for something we did this time last year which is all good fun but wasn’t an overwhelming success. Seeing as how it’s all for charity as well, we must do better this year.
Peter is pitting his wits against our MG ambassadors, our valued team of guys who help us deliver the magazine each month. All they have to do is each place a couple of bets on each major, MG goes down the bookies and places them – plus as it’s Ryder Cup year, we’re doing a predict the score from Paris too.
£25 will be wagered on each event, and whoever comes out on top with the highest collective winnings by October will scoop the full pot and donate it to their chosen charity.
- Predictions were made on the week of March 19th-23rd
Peter Baker’s picks & reasons
Masters – TO WIN Justin Thomas EACH WAY BET Jordan Spieth
“Thomas is a man on form and a long straight hitter too, which is a big thing at Augusta. I just can’t ignore Jordan either, such a great record here.”
US Open WIN Phil Mickleson EACH WAY Dustin Johnson
“Purely for sentimental reasons and also as he’s a winner again at last, Phil is surely destined to win one US Open? Shinnecock is pretty linksy too which should help him further.”
Open Championship WIN Jon Rahm EACH WAY Justin Rose
“Back to the Europeans on the toughest of Open venues. After his Irish Open win last year Rahm knows how to play links. And Justin Rose, I fancy him for an Open soon.”
US PGA WIN Rory Mcllroy EACH WAY Rickie Fowler
“I’m gambling that by August Rory might be back on form at last! *Plus Rickie’s another one who has come so close so many times, a major win must happen soon.”
*Peter recorded this conversation before the recent Bay Hill Invitational won by Rory Mcllroy!*
Ryder Cup Score – Europe 16-12 USA – Chosen Charity – Compton Hospice – Wolverhampton
Chris Bates – Coventry & Warwickshire Ambassador – Known by us affectionately as ‘The Odds God’ Chris, a Coventry GC member proved that to be correct in 2017 at the very last minute as his E/W bet at the USPGA, Justin Thomas romped to victory with a final round charge. Chris scooped the full winnings, donating £220 to the Alzheimer’s Society and is ready to go again this year.
Masters TO WIN Bubba Watson EACH WAY Tyrell Hatton
US Open WIN Rory Mcllroy EACH WAY Jon Rahm
Open Championship WIN Justin Rose EACH WAY Jordan Spieth
US PGA WIN Rickie Fowler EACH WAY Justin Rose
Ryder Cup Score Europe 14.5 v 13.5 USA – Chosen Charity – Alzheimer’s Society
Neil White/Mark Johnson – Worcs Ambassadors – Neil and Mark, both members of BUNGS share a delivery route for us, so they share this too. They are hoping for a better showing this year than they managed in 2017.
Masters TO WIN Dustin Johnson EACH WAY Tiger Woods
US Open WIN Justin Rose EACH WAY Tiger Woods
Open Championship WIN Tommy Fleetwood EACH WAY Tiger Woods
US PGA WIN Justin Thomas EACH WAY Tiger Woods
Ryder Cup Score Europe 15-13 USA – Chosen Charity – Breast Cancer Support (BUNGS captain’s charity for 2018)
Paul Spooner – Black Country and N Birmingham ambassador – Paul, who is a Walsall GC member and WAGS society member has taken the place of the editor for this year, because the editor wasn’t very good either! Good luck Paul, (he’s the one on the left!)
Masters TO WIN Dustin Johnson EACH WAY Tiger Woods
US Open WIN Tiger Woods EACH WAY Hideki Matsuyama
Open Championship WIN Rory Mcllroy EACH WAY Matt Fitzpatrick
US PGA WIN Jordan Spieth EACH WAY Justin Thomas
Ryder Cup Score – Europe 15.5 v USA 12.5 – Chosen Charity – Cancer Research
Tony Rogers – MG’s Nottinghamshire ambassador – Another new contestant, Tony is the organiser of the Willowbrook GS and is a member at The Nottinghamshire.
Masters TO WIN Justin Rose EACH WAY BET Phil Mickleson
US Open WIN Jason Day EACH WAY Hideki Matsuyama
Open Championship WIN Sergio Garcia EACH WAY Tommy Fleetwood
US PGA WIN Justin Thomas EACH WAY Jordan Speith
Ryder Cup Score Europe 14.5 USA 13.5 – Chosen Charity – Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance
We’ll update the current winnings as each major passes – hope they are significant ones – good luck all
We’re very pleased to introduce Peter Baker as our magazine contributing professional in 2018. Peter will be writing a regular blog for us in the magazine and online here too.
Peter Baker was born in Shifnal, Shropshire in 1967, he currently lives in Wolverhampton and is Head Professional at The South Staffordshire Club. After a successful amateur career which included a Walker Cup appearance in 1985 he turned pro the year after and soon became one of The European Tour’s most consistent performers. Among his three wins was a British Masters success in 1993, the same year that Peter made his Ryder Cup appearance at The Belfry. Despite a European team defeat, he won three points out of four, including a singles victory over Corey Pavin. Peter returned to Ryder Cup duty in 2006, this time as good friend Ian Woosnam’s Vice-Captain in a commanding European win at The K Club. Peter is married with two grown up daughters and is a season ticket holder at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Now aged 50, he’s spending 2018 competing full time on the newly named Staysure Tour (European Seniors)
Peter has a busy year ahead and we caught up with him on return from the season’s first event, The Sharjah Senior Masters in UAE where he finished in joint 11th on three under.
“I felt I played really well for a season opener and the swing felt good too. I just struggled with the pace of the greens which was my downfall, but all in all it was a great week at a very welcoming venue which all the players enjoyed, and nice to play some golf in the sunshine too.”
It’s a while before the next Staysure event in late May, until then Peter is intending to keep competitive as it all gets very busy after that.
“ I’m intending to play about 90% of the Staysure events this season so it will be full on from June onwards, until then I’m taking part in a few local pro-ams and some familiar spring events that I enjoy. The Cornish festival is a favourite of mine, I managed to win the Professional Trophy here last year so this month we’ll be down again (April 17th-19th.) It’s a great golf event in a lovely area and we play at Trevose, Carlyon Bay and St Enodoc.”
On Tiger Woods – “He’s looking dangerous again and confident in what he’s doing. Such a great boost for the game to have him back in contention. If he could win a major this year, that would be something very special.”
On Staysure – “ Brilliant support for all the guys on the tour, they are determined to make it a big success and I’m delighted to see that they are going to be equally commited to amateur golf too.”
On Wolves – “ Nearly there now, just win our home games and we’ll be back where we belong. There’s been a bit of controversy lately hasn’t there over the FFP issue , but looks like a bit of traditional jealously to me, no-one spoke out when we were 16th in the league last year.”
We’ve also tested Peter’s professional playing knowledge against our MG ambassadors in a special charity based feature all centering on the major championships. Click on the link to find out more – https://midlandsgolfer.co.uk/baker-ambassadors/
Midlands dates for the diary – Watch Peter Baker live this year by attending both of the following events, both offer FREE spectator entry.
August 7th – 10th – Farmfoods British Par 3 Championships – Nailcote Hall
October 5th – 7th – Farmfoods European Senior Masters – Marriott Forest of Arden
Situated close to The Potteries just an hour from the centre of Birmingham, Barlaston is very a attractive riverside location designed by Peter Alliss in 1977. The club is a hard working and sociable venue with a great tradition, past and present of bringing up quality junior players.
After a fairly gentle beginning the River Trent provides a challenge as well as an attractive border running alongside holes three to five, an area which has seen many course improvements in recent times to guarantee quality all-weather playability.
‘Old Swampy’ (above) is a formidable seventh, a long par four with it’s 90 degree dog leg, undulations and a tiny looking punchbowl green protected by its pond and swamp surrounds. A terrifying looking approach in store and many will play it as a par five, but overhitting an approach isn’t a bad ploy as the banking you can see on the right of the image carries on all around the back of green and may bounce your ball back in the right direction.
The ninth (main image) shows Barlaston off at it’s very finest, a superb tee shot view over the lake on this short par five, the temptation is just how much of it you are prepared to take on for the reward of a shorter second shot.
The back nine follows a more traditional parkland path, tree lined on gently undulating land with more than a few twists and turns. The long par three 13th is the toughest test as the water returns, one demanding tee shot to avoid the drink, and the out of bounds on the right.
There are enough testing holes here to follow the adage not to be fooled by the modest yardage on the card, to play to your handicap at Barlaston will require some good course management skills. Enjoy too a wide variety of wildlife and the many different tree species guarantee a beautiful and varied look for each passing season.
Off course facilities include a full range of good quality and reasonably priced meals and snacks in the club’s large clubhouse lounge.
Societies are frequently attracted to the charms of Barlaston by competitive pricing and a tailor made approach to group days. Weekend society bookings are now also available by prior arrangement
Contact: Jim Pickerill (manager) or Darren Martin (professional) on 01782 372867
Mandy Ambert – What can I say about Lea Marston Golf Club and Hotel that I didn’t say last year?
56 players came on Friday 23rd March to play in our second MG mixed event with players from Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Pontypridd. The remit of maintaining a good mix of people from the Midlands is working and with not a raindrop in sight off we went after a cheeky Bucks Fizz and Danish pastries.
The am-am shot gun start proved successful once again and with Senior Pro (Sgt Major) Darren Lewis giving us a briefing prior to the game, we played the competition.
Considering the recent weather endured by all, both nine hole courses, Academy and Marston Lakes were in great condition. The greens were soft and super receptive as well, especially on the short course, “where golfers of average ability managed to achieve prodigious amounts of backspin – which was nice.” Phil – MG
Some very close holes in one on the Academy par 3 course but the shot of the day goes to Jenny Cordon from Leek Golf Club as she hit her immersed ball from a pond onto the green on Marston Lakes. That one was caught by budding photographer Ann Tweddle from Uttoxeter GC. All adds to the fun.
Afterwards, to the bar for some refreshments and then to the evening event of drinks reception followed by a four course meal. Most of the teams stayed over for the night and were slightly more subdued the next day nursing the odd bad head, they party well.
Lea Marston’s hospitality from the seamless organisation through to the accommodation left us all feeling well indulged and spoilt. The feedback from the players has been very complimentary.
Our winners were Team Pontypridd, winning an overnight stay at the Crowne Plaza 5 Towns Resort in Colchester with our own Phil the editor and Paul Povey from Brewin Dolphin wealth management who sponsor our society section making up the fourball. Steve and Karen Parfitt from South Wales had previously played with Jean- Louis and I at the Gourmet Classic event run by Club Choice Ireland last September, and it was great that they could join us.
Phil – ” A great day and night and I normally have to apologise to my team mates that Mandy puts me with for the handicap of playing with me! But we did great as a team and it was nice to win one for a change, even nicer though to make some great new friends, which is what these events of ours are all about.”
The runners up were team Robin Hood GC (below) – Lorraine and Chaz Baldwin, Ed and Sandra Kerby winning a stay and golf at the Lea Marston Hotel.
3rd place went to team Forest of Arden – lady captain Debbie Poynton and her husband Tim and David Wright with Christine Mitchell winning a fourball at Druids Heath Golf Club.
4th place went to team LLG (Ladies Love Golf) Michelle and Chris Walker, Jane and Tony Aston winning two boxes of balls. Yes there was clearly something in their wine on the table!
On the day we also ran a raffle for Prostate Cancer Research, and Jean- Louis and I are proud to say we raised £200. Thank you SurprizeShopGolf for the raffle prizes.
Again thank you for the generosity, Crown Plaza Hotels, Lea Marston, Darren Lewis PGA Senior pro and his staff and Druids Heath GC.
Next year as part of our pledge to reward and support the clubs and resorts who support MG year on year, we hope to move the event to Ullesthorpe Court Hotel in Leicestershire.
With so many ladies present I managed to sign a few up for MGALS, numbers now for our ladies society are in excess of 60 and counting. Our next MGALS event is on July 8th at the Forest of Arden.
Please contact me of you are interested in any of the events email@example.com
Golf is changing and memberships are changing too as clubs move to meet the needs of the modern golfer.
Churchill & Blakedown Golf Club, a traditional private members’ club founded in 1926, has embraced a new flexible membership category to increase choice for golfers.
And, nearing the first anniversary since C&B launched its Flex-Up membership, it’s fair to say it has been a huge success.
With nearly 70 members signed up across its three packages, Flex-Up is going from strength to strength and has complemented the traditional full membership categories.
Flex-Up membership was the idea of the club’s PGA professionals Angus Hoare and Phil Lathwood.
Aimed at attracting new members and generating revenue during the club’s quieter times, it has given a range of golfers the opportunity to become involved at this picturesque course in north Worcestershire.
Flex-Up has proved ideal both for beginners just getting into the game who perhaps don’t want to commit to full membership fees yet or more established golfers who love golf but simply don’t have the time to justify full membership at this point in their lives.
Among those to fall into the starter category is Julie Yardley who has been playing for a year and also has regular coaching with Phil.
Julie became the 50th Flex-Up member and the membership has ignited a love affair with golf.
“As someone who works I have limited time so can only play once or twice a week at most so Flex-Up is ideal,” she said. “I started to play last year because my husband plays and once I had a go I fell in love with golf. I’ve been made to feel very welcome at Churchill and Blakedown and my game has come on massively with Phil’s help so I’m really enjoying the Flex-Up experience.”
Flex-Up is points-based with three packages – 60, 120 or 210 points.
While not carrying the benefits of full membership it is sufficient to meet the needs of many who still hanker after the golf club environment and they can also play in Stablefords and medals.
The club’s long-term aim is to encourage Flex-Up members to move up to full membership which several have already done but in the meantime it has proved invaluable in getting more golfers into C&B which can only be of benefit to all concerned.
If you are interested in Flex-Up or just getting into golf call Angus or Phil in the pro shop on 01562 700454 and find out more.
Alternatively see https://churchillblakedowngolfclub.co.uk/membership/flex-up-membership/
Main Image: Golfers on the 3rd
Sky Sports put C&B in the spotlight
It was a case of lights, cameras, action at Churchill & Blakedown Golf Club as Sky Sports came to film head PGA pro Angus Hoare and two of his talented charges in the summer.
Brothers Brandon Sarfo, aged 16, and Hayden, eight, are long-standing pupils of Angus and have both been capturing the golfing headlines.
Older brother Brandon, who plays off three, is part of the England Midland Training Squad U18s squad while Hayden qualified and recently shone in the World Junior Golf Championships in San Diego in July.
Haydn has a 22 handicap and has been wowing coaches and members alike with his smooth swing and golfing skills.
Sky Sports presenter Kirsty Edwards and cameraman spent three hours at the club where they filmed the juniors in action while also speaking to dad Claude and Angus.
“I’ve been working with Brandon for four years and Hayden for two years,” said Angus.
“Hayden qualifying for the World Junior Golf Championships attracted a lot of media attention. He already plays off 22 which is really pretty impressive for an eight year old and I think he could go all the way.
“I love coaching both the boys. With Hayden we work a lot on the fundamentals. He swings it lovely but if the fundamentals breakdown that is when the bad shots come so we work a lot on grip, posture and alignment.”
Churchill & Blakedown is making great strides in growing its juniors section with 30 on its books.
Angus, who is a PGA Advanced Professional, and fellow PGA pro Phil Lathwood are both passionate about encouraging more juniors into golf and welcomed the chance to showcase the club.
“We host a lot of coaching programmes at Churchill & Blakedown and also do a lot of out reach work in schools and also adults centres for those with learning disabilities,” added Angus.
“Golf is a great game for kids, both for the health and well-being of being outside but also for teaching them about life-skills. The more we can get playing the better.”
Any parents interested in getting their children into golf can call Angus and Phil on 01562 70045 4to find out more.
Brewin Dolphin is one of the UK’s leading wealth managers and are kindly acting as sponsors for MG’s society coverage, in the magazine and online. They offer personalised financial planning and investment management services that are tailored to meet the diverse and varied needs of individuals, companies, pension funds and charities.
Brewin Dolphin is independently-owned and listed on the London FTSE 250. We have our own substantial award-winning independent research team, who undertake their own research across markets, asset classes and individual companies. They develop their own unconstrained views and insights, which our client advisers draw upon to best manage our clients’ wealth.
We have also made a very deliberate choice to have no in-house funds or products, giving our advisers full independence in how they craft personal advice and investment strategies for our clients. We believe that only with an approach like ours can wealth management advice be truly bespoke.
Our investment managers work together with our financial planners to provide a holistic approach to managing our clients’ wealth, although clients may receive either service in isolation.
Our financial planners can help you achieve your personal and financial ambitions. We do this by understanding of your current position and analysing whether you are likely to achieve your objectives. We then create a clear plan of action that efficiently utilises your existing financial resources. This is then reviewed regularly to ensure you remain on track and make any adjustments required.
Our financial planning advice covers several key areas, including:
- Pensions and Retirement Planning
- Trust and Estate Planning
If you would like further information about how we can help you please contact Paul Povey on 0161 214 5586 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Povey – Bio
Having joined a firm of Chartered Accountants in 1992 I started my finance career over 25 years ago. I decided on a change of direction in 2000 and joined Popes Stockbrokers in my home city of Stoke on Trent, who subsequently became part of Brewin Dolphin a couple of years later.
I am an investment manager and a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment and look after a broad range of private clients, helping them to achieve their financial objectives.
I have enjoyed working for Brewin Dolphin for over 15 years and plan to continue through to retirement. Brewin Dolphin has wonderful ethics and employee engagement is of high importance to the group, but for me, it is the very high focus on customer service that is particularly attractive. The company provides clients with the security, resources and pricing power of a large company, while its network of offices ensures we maintain a personal service that gives clients direct access to their investment manager and financial planner.
I look after clients throughout England and Wales, but the vast majority are based in the Midlands and Cheshire.
Away from work, and when not being ordered about by my young daughter, I continue to enjoy my golf at Newcastle under Lyme Golf Club, which I joined as a junior member in the late 1980s, although recent form has largely been in line with that of my football club, Stoke City!
If you would like to have a chat to see how we may be able to help you please do get in touch.
Paul Povey Chartered FCSI 0161 214 5586
M: 07894 546271 email@example.com
The Lea Marston Hotel, Spa and Golf complex – Mandy Ambert
This complex ticks all the right boxes from its accommodation, the food, the facilities and the atmosphere.
Within easy access from the M40, M42, M6 and M1 yet nestled in the peaceful Warwickshire countryside the hotel offers a warm welcome from its reception area to its bespoke spa and golf complex.
The staff are happy and helpful, the rooms spacious and tastefully decorated. The restaurant leans towards haute cuisine without the extravagant prices and the breakfast is well displayed with a huge variety.
The design of the hotel is a bit like the Tardis in that the outside appears smaller than the inside. Every square meter is different and interesting. Small recesses are furnished with table and chairs along corridors with galleries of painting or prints, you would never get bored here!
Hathaways Bar is designed as an old English pub with wooden beams and real ale and draft cider. The wine list is extensive and competitively priced, even a simple cup of tea comes accompanied with homemade biscuits.
The restaurant is plush and maintains a level of luxury without pomp and ceremony leaving the guest feeling comfortable and relaxed whilst enjoying the cuisine.
The hotel caters for big events such as weddings and has a well utilised conference centre, evident on the two days of our stay, a hive of activity of businessmen and women.
The spa facilities offered a wide range of treatments and it was lovely to see groups of people having aqua classes and toddlers in the swimming pool. We ended up covered in mud, sat in a steam room for 20 minutes then hosed ourselves down, leaving our skin shiny and new. Aptly called the Rasul Mud Chamber it was a truly amazing experience.
Now to the golf
The Lea Marston hotel started its journey as a driving range in 1970, with the par 3 course added in 1984 and a 21 bedroomed hotel being constructed in 1989.
The 9 hole par 60/62 Marston Lakes course was built in 2001 along with a renovation of the driving range. Three par fours over 300 yards exist, along with half a dozen short ones, but it’s not nearly as straightforward as that might sound.
Water hazards come into play from the tees on many of the holes for those of you daring enough to take them on. For those who choose to lay up or simply drive a shorter distance you are not penalized by long carry which makes this course challenging but fair and highly suitable for lady golfers as well as the gents.
The course, built to USGA specification is well tended and considering the wet autumnal weather the greens were in good condition. A point of interest is that although the tees are equivalent to mens and ladies tees the golf complex encourage any player to play off any tee as they feel able.
The par 3 course has lovely features such as carp filled ponds, wooden bridges and all interspersed with eucalyptus trees, almost like walking through woodland whilst playing a game of golf. It is a perfect, no pressure starter golf course and the club’s junior academy golfers utilise it for free as part of their membership packages.
The golf complex also has an indoor simulator and a team of golf professionals under the leadership of Darren Lewis and Ben Challis (below), a passionate and entertaining pair, golfing knowledge and banter tend to go hand in hand.
The golf complex is perfect for beginners with natural progression to a par 3 course handicap and then a Congu handicap. It is also great for children to learn the sport and ideal to host a county junior golf competition especially for the littlies or Rabbits as we call them in Staffordshire County Golf
For the Ladies
For a few days away, a Lady Captain’s day out, a ‘nine, wine and dine’ event (9 holes of golf followed by drinks and dinner). For a golfing hen party, a past Captains’ ladies society or simply a central venue to meet and play golf with or without a stay-over, The Lea Marston Hotel Complex is well worth a visit. They offer a variety of packages, simply contact the hotel or visit their website, you will not be disappointed.
Golf Society Packages
Birdie – £15.00 per person (mon-thur) / £20.00 per person (fri-sun)
coffee & bacon rolls
9 holes of golf
Hole in One – £23.00 per person (mon-thur) / £30.00 per person (fri-sun)
coffee & bacon rolls
9 holes of golf
soup & sandwiches
Longest Drive – £35.00 per person (mon-thur) / £40.00 per person (fri-sun)
coffee & bacon rolls
9 holes of golf
2 course meal
Tee times are restricted on a Saturday & Sunday during the summer
You can enhance your golf society day further by increasing your golf to 18 holes, please ask for the supplement
All offers are subject to availability & must be pre-booked in advance
Lea Marston Hotel shares ownership with the Redditch based Abbey Hotel – find out more about them here https://midlandsgolfer.co.uk/abbey-hotel/
The Redditch based family owned venue has come a long way since opening its doors in the late 1970s. The ideal society and play and stay venue for golfers, complete with modern and luxurious hotel facilities to enjoy.
The parkland golf course plots a path around the hotel and the neighbouring housing estate with a peaceful countryside and woodland backdrop. Typically for a resort course, water features appear with great regularity. Two loops, one of eight holes and the closing ten both conclude at the clubhouse.
The very first hole offers out of bounds to the left, the tricky short par four runs alongside the excellent two-tiered driving range, then turns a tight corner to the right to a secluded little green guarded by tall trees.
The testing start continues with a superbly challenging short second that threatens with deep traps, water to the right and a steep faced putting surface, take a club more than you think is the pro’s advice here.
Then the long game gets a good examination as you head out into open countryside, but every now and then a hole like the lakeside short sixth comes around, a big difference here in difficulty between the medal tees and the yellows.
The final par three comes at the signature 10th so you can be assured of a lengthy finishing stretch, a series of exciting holes for your driver that reach a peak from the elevated 17th tee, demanding a good carry to negotiate the lake.
If you’re in the later groupings for your society day prepare for a pressure finish (above), your concluding challenge sits underneath the clubhouse balcony, but like all of The Abbey’s greens it plays true and consistently and will reward a good putting stroke.
MG Pick: 10th 162 yards Par 3
A lovely looking short hole over the water to the sloping putting surface, with another lake threatening to give you a nasty surprise if you stray a little too far to the left. Often plays into the wind, once again it’s a smart play to club up a little.
Pro facilities : Head Pro Rob Davies runs the shop at The Abbey and you can be assured of top class practice and teaching facilities. The 28 bay two-tiered range is floodlit with heated bays and also houses an indoor custom fit ready studio complete with Trackman.
For Societies : Exclusive MG 2019 summer weekend deals
Golf Day 1 – – Full English or Light Lunch + 18 holes – Weekday £32pp – WEEKEND – WAS £40pp – MG RATE £35pp
Golf Day 2 – Tea/Coffee/Bacon Roll, 18 holes & 2 course lunch – Weekday £38pp – WEEKEND – WAS £45pp – MG RATE £40pp
BOOK NOW AND YOUR 12TH GOLFER GOES FREE!
To book – Call 01527 406600 or check out the website – www.theabbeyhotel.co.uk
Play and Stay : 100 contemporary en-suite rooms, fine dining in Bramblings Restaurant, snacks and pub classics in Tawnys Bar & Terrace which overlooks the 18th hole. Full leisure facilities include gym and swimming pool plus the 4* Abbey Hotel Spa, offering a wide range of treatments.
The Abbey Hotel has a sister venue of equal standing, Lea Marston Hotel & Golf, situated on the outskirts of Sutton Coldfield. Find out more about them here – https://midlandsgolfer.co.uk/lea-marston/
A secluded stretch of delightful parkland to discover on the Staffordshire/West Midlands border, Druids Heath is a traditional members club offering a very friendly welcome to all visitors and a peaceful ‘away from it all’ playing experience.
This attractively tree-lined, well-drained mid-length layout provides a challenging all year round test for golfers of all abilities, the course is well manicured and is laden with plenty of strategically placed bunkers to catch any misplaced tee shots or approaches. Opened for play in 1974, Druids Heath has a mature look that belies a relatively young existence.
Three par fives in the opening half including the first, a beautiful hole and the very epitome of all that is good about Druids Heath. A gently curving fairway, inviting for the shot shaper with two well-placed cross bunkers in driver range and two more guarding the entrance to the green – three accurate shots are needed to achieve par. The course goes on to follow a path that twists and turns around the woodland surrounds, no two holes ever seem to play in the same direction consecutively, so whatever breezes are about deserve close scrutiny.
The shorter par 34 back nine might just make good scoring harder to come by. Druid’s official signature hole is included, the dog leg par four 12th really does test your shot making capabilities, a tee shot to the left-hand side of the fairway offers the best chance of reaching the well guarded green in two with a long iron. Make a par here and it will feel like a birdie, as the putting surface also tests, speedy with subtle slopes. You get that sort of challenge and quality across the full layout, with only the severest of wintery conditions preventing the use of full greens.
The par threes play a starring back nine role as well, the club introduced revetted faces to their greenside traps on the short 11th a couple of years ago with great success, now they also appear elsewhere on the course. Not required on the tiny 14th just yet (below), this one is well protected enough with a small and very sloping green, potential three-putt territory.
A beautiful final hole too, tree-lined with fairway banking and a further tricky green to conquer, but the view on approach is lovely, to a bush and shrub surrounded green in front of the clubhouse (main image).
MG Pick: 16th 203 yards Par 3
A big downhill par three test that requires an accurate tee shot to a narrow green with two freshly revetted faced bunkers short to catch any misplaced shots. The open aspect will pose club selection issues, a driver isn’t out of the question on a windy day!
Druids Heath offers excellent warm-up facilities consisting of two putting greens, a chipping green, practice fairways and a driving net. The clubhouse is a decent size and has the capability to cope with large societies and there is a patio area overlooking the uphill 18th green. A warm welcome awaits from all, along with great service and the food is as generously priced as you will find in any golf club. With a brand new chef in residence, the quality and choice on the menu is only set to improve further.
Fortunes are continuing on an upward curve at Redditch Golf Club. This popular members club situated on the outskirts of the Worcestershire town is an ever more popular venue for visitor and society traffic as well.
The improvement can largely be attributed to the golf course, one that has always been admired for it’s looks and test but these days also wins just as many plaudits for its superb conditioning too. A complete renovation of the putting services during the mid-1990’s certainly helped but Redditch are also blessed with one of the best greenkeeping teams in the region too. I found this out to my detriment during my review trip at the crack of dawn on a late autumn morning. Trying to play a few holes during the walk should have been a doddle with no golfers around, but every corner I turned there seemed to be a greenkeeper raking bunkers or hand mowing the green surrounds – the clubs stayed in the bag.
RGC starts off with a couple of gentle opening holes, the first plays uphill but from the top of the hill the reward is there, The Malverns provide you with a glorious backdrop. The fourth and fifth are two stout par fours, and it is the latter, ‘The Dingle’ which gives a brief taster of what is in store for later in the round with it’s green positioned within a glade enclosed on three sides by mature trees and fronted by a running ditch.
The back nine begins with cracking mid-length par four whose green is pinched in between two deep bunkers and a pond. The signature 12th is sandwiched between two decent length short holes and then it all changes.
For most of the round the course is laid out on relatively level ground and has a rather open feel to it. Quite a contrast from the 14th through to the 17th, situated within the towering trees of the established ‘Downsell Wood’ and it is one that is quite stark, but at the same time focusses the mind and makes for an exciting finish to the round.
Shrewd course management is key in order to make par over the roller-coaster fairways and superb green-sites. The 17th is the quirkiest of dog legs, a near 90-degree left turn with an up and over fairway before toppling down to the two-tier green. The home hole returns to open ground and is the course’s longest at 497 yards, provided you can negotitate the final ditch there’s a good chance of a final flourish.
MG Pick: 12th 362 yards Par 4
‘Rushey Bottom’ is the wonderful signature hole, not long but the drive must favour the right side if an open view of the green is to be found. The delightful creek that snakes it’s way from the dog-leg to the green is full on in your thoughts for your second shot, and the green slopes toward the water on the left making an up and down from the right tricky.
A modern and spacious clubhouse with fantastic bar area, well-stocked pro-shop and recently refurbished changing rooms make RGC an ideal venue for individuals, groups and societies alike. A new menu has recently been launched offering great food at a reasonable price.
It’s an exciting time at Churchill & Blakedown – and not just because chips have returned to the Sunday menu.
A new pro team has injected fresh vim and vigour to the club while the launch of a successful Flex-Up membership has brought in 60 new faces.
While on the surface a 9-hole club, members would beg to differ. Two circuits of this picturesque course off its 18 tees see it play the third longest in Worcestershire off 6,510 yards.
It’s tricky and testing too – the Standard Scratch Score was bumped up by one across White, Yellow and Red tees by England Golf in October. A handicap carved out in the many and varied competitions schedule is well-deserved, and travels well.
If time permits, and it often does at Churchill & Blakedown which has a timeless quality in its secluded landscape tucked off the A456, there are also some stunning views to soak up.
The club prides itself on its friendly welcome and accessibility, as thriving junior and women sections testify, but could also legitimately pride itself on its impressive setting. This club is hidden away in North Worcestershire, and it is a gem so members can be forgiven for lauding the club as a hidden gem.
With the PGA professional team of Angus Hoare and Phil Lathwood driving a busy coaching programme both in the club and in the community, the seeds are being sown for a bright future.
A little over five years ago Angus was still out coaching in all weathers through the winter at his former club Wharton Park.
But days spent in freezing conditions on a rain-lashed range are long gone, pupils instead gather in the warm surroundings of his purpose-built studio above the pro shop at Churchill and Blakedown.
Members dug deep to fund the studio – a reflection of their faith in Angus and their commitment to helping the club thrive into the future.
The benefits, intricacies, delights and nuances of golfing technology are now a staple part of Angus’s coaching diet – and he couldn’t be more pleased.
“It is a 365 days a year and 24 hours a day facility if you want it,” says Hoare who is a PGA Advanced Professional.
“In the middle of winter, golfers can wear a tee shirt in contrast to the old days when they looked like Michelin man and couldn’t swing the club because they had that many layers on.”
He added: “I try and make the studio experience very professional – make them feel special and make the experience better than they’ve ever experienced in the past.
“I want to make them feel within that half an hour or hour, that the coach is really with them and the value for money is fantastic.”
“The members got together, a handful of members put hand in pockets for the studio to be built. And yes, they believe in the development that the golf pro can drive.
“They know the golf club can grow, and they have been fantastically forward thinking for a golf club that didn’t have a golf pro for a while.
“And in the environment we are in right now, Churchill & Blakedown is competitive and we have a membership with immense pride in their club who are all working to make it a success.”
With Angus and Phil on board, an on-going programme of course update and development under head greenkeeper Mark Clewes, a famed catering and bar set up under legendary in-house team Ann and John Voizey plus a dedicated committee structure led by captain Bob Julier, the future is looking bright for Churchill & Blakeown.
If you’ve managed to read through to the last paragraph there is only one thing left to say – if you haven’t played it yet come and have a round!
Visitors and golf societies are warmly welcomed with excellent bar and catering facilities provided.
The first and very much foremost message in this write up is that the newly re-named Sapey Golf & Country Club are very much alive and kicking and ready to welcome even more visitors and societies than ever before to this beautiful secluded location on the Worcs/Herefordshire border.
They came mighty close to a very sad demise earlier this summer as no takers seemed to be around to purchase the club. But with only weeks to go and final competitions in the planning stage, enter Alfie Best, chairman of The Wyldecrest Group, who took one look and decided there and then that Sapey was for him.
The club is set for a £500K investment boost to the course and facilities in the coming months, just to improve things even further, add a bit of stardust. Because after all, what they already is pretty good as it is.
Sapey is a 27 hole location, the 9 hole short Oaks course plays many a role in proceedings, a perfect starter golfer layout, the ideal society warm up track if you are keen on a full day here, plus they also use it for FootGolf. It is also a very attractive setting to play some golf and sharpen up those short game skills.
The full size Rowan course shares that attractive aspect, slightly less undulating too as it takes a route away from the clubhouse, with an open countryside backdrop and complete peace and quiet all around.
The Rowan is an ideal society course, suiting all handicaps, never too long to be over taxing and never too tight from the tee either, or thick in rough to make it too difficult to find a wayward golf ball.
So you get a chance to score well but it isn’t without danger either. The front nine runs all around the perimeter of the course, so out of bounds is a constant threat. And then there’s a pair of short holes that spell danger, and both are tricky club selection tests too.
The eighth is the signature hole, the water at the rear of the green is an unmistakeable sight, but don’t underestimate the threat of the little rocky brook that runs in front. The 11th is more obvious and this time the water is all below the green, but it’s all open to the elements and that’s where the issue is. It was a two club wind when I played it, I only allowed for one. Three from the tee!
But I got round ok in the end and there’s a lovely closing stretch of longer holes to look forward to as you head back to the clubhouse, separated by one last short one at 17, a little friendlier than before.
19th hole – One of the improvements is already in place. The first floor golfer’s reception is a welcome addition in a spike bar type atmosphere with great views over the course. Further along is the main bar and dining/function room with space to host any occasion.
Future plans include a brand new shop for head professional Chris Knowles including an indoor swing room with simulator. New gym and leisure facilities are in the pipeline and a possible bit of play and stay is on the horizon too. There’s going to be a lot going on at Sapey Golf & Country Club.
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.
Hotel & Accommodation:
A three star hotel in Dartmouth, surrounded by Devonshire countryside – cue idyllic views of undulating, verdant countryside – the Best Western The Dartmouth Hotel, Golf and Spa hotel has 35 rooms, each with contemporary décor, lots of space and, as you might expect with the vast majority looking out onto the golf course and close to the Start Bay coastline.
They also have deluxe, luxury award-winning self-catering lodges on site, offering spacious and sunny living spaces, each with French doors leading out to the front terrace area overlooking the central courtyard and water feature.
Devon is quite literally a feast of home-grown produce and locally produced culinary favourites, so it is fitting that the hotel’s Bar and Bistro, under the watchful eye of Executive Head Chef, Robert Walsh, serves a menu that reflects that heritage – from seafood from the Dartmouth fishmongers ‘Moby Nicks’ to ice cream from South Devon’s renowned Langage Farm.
THE CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE
The 7,200 yard, par 72 Championship Golf Course, which has hosted the West Region PGA Championships on no less than 6 occasions, has been designed to challenge the most proficient golfer, with the strategic positioning of tees, meandering streams, 12 water features and undulating greens providing an excellent and enjoyable challenge to golfers of all abilities.
MG REVIEW – Phil Nicholas – November 2017
It had to be good. Unusually for MG this was a good distance play and stay trip with just one game of golf at the end of it, so it had to be good.
The forecast was good which it normally is for an MG review and I spent a leisurely day on Thursday travelling down to Devon, arriving at BW Dartmouth Hotel and tea time. In darkness I wasn’t able to appreciate the splendour of the surroundings, that would have to wait until the morning.
Firstly to the hotel, a ground floor room, roomy with modern comforts and a delightful view over the putting green, with a bit of golf course beyond, as I was to find out in the morning. The home made Chilli and Nachos in the Bistro Bar was delicious as was the full English in the morning. Large bar area with plenty of food choices on the Bistro and bar snack menu, the area doubles up as golf clubhouse, with a spike bar next door including pool table.
My round on the Championship course was set for 10am the following morning, perfect weather too, not a cloud in the sky and not a breath of wind earlier. It was also warm enough to eradicate any frost issues too.
They have many buggies to hire here and it’s fair to say they are not a bad investment, it is a good walk with plenty of changes of elevation and some decent green to tee treks. Personally I didn’t mind not having one on a day such as this with lots of time on my hands, I enjoyed every minute of my walk. But I would recommend a buggy and the buggy path runs all the way around the golf course too, so they are available to hire in all weathers, 12 months of the year.
A tough opening hole, then a second that you don’t need a driver on, you might just run out of fairway, instead take a fairway wood and position it right, then a birdie chance is there for the taking with just a short iron in. Here is also the first spot to appreciate the views that you can look forward to, a panoramic delight.
A windy path down the third and what a hole this is (above), a par three from a high tee over the lake to a receptive green, it won’t be the last one you come across. Superb hole and keep it straight too, banks of gorse on the left and a steep drop off on the opposite side. The fourth is just a short par five on the card, but I have rarely seen a fairway as narrow as this! The brook running down the left hand side and greenside pond give it a delightful look, but a par here will be well earned.
A terrific start to a round of golf and the standard doesn’t falter, another terrific and longer par three over water soon comes around, then the front nine concludes with a par of par fives, a real twisting one on the ninth.
Around the other side of the hotel for the back nine which begins with a superb 10th and pretty daunting it is too. Another narrow fairway so keep it straight to avoid the drop off on the right and the exposed sandstone rock faces on the opposite side (above).
Then as your reach higher ground it all opens out a little on a succession of demanding and longish par fours, including 14 and 15 which run side by side in opposite directions and share a lake.
From the par five 16th fairway you do get a sea view over to Start Bay on a clear day as I enjoyed, the par following a visit to the fairway bunker from the tee felt even better.
Not too bad on the 17th either, I had a good round going on at this point, but there was one final challenge still remaining, and the main picture shows you the tee shot view you get at the 18th.
To walk off with pride you have to conquer this spectacular plunging downhill par three, 194 yards for me with water and traps lining up in front of the green. There’s no other option other than firing it over all of the hazards, and at least from this height you’re certain to find a receptive putting surface.
An apt finishing hole to a stunning course, full of thrill a minute holes and great views too. It also winters very well indeed too, no temp tees or greens in sight.
ANOTHER NINE – THE DARTMOUTH COURSE
The 2,252 yard, par 33 9 Hole Dartmouth Golf Course offers a more relaxing challenge, but nevertheless the course has been built to the exact same standard as its sister course, offering the golfer similar challenges of undulating greens and water features. This course is an absolute must to all golfers wanting to enjoy the true ‘Dartmouth Experience’.
Situated on the outskirts of Walsall, family owned and committed to an ever improving full golfing and leisure package at this most sociable of establishments.
Golf – Maturing all the time Calderfields has a fairly lengthy examination in store, a bit of controlled aggression with your driver is the best policy as you do need a bit of length but enough hazards are lined up to encourage a bit of calm too. The greens are large sized, beautifully conditioned and teasing too as some of the more subtle contours can prove hard to spot.
Around the turn are situated some stand out holes set around the picturesque lake and the surrounding woodland. The signature eighth is absolutely stunning with two water hazards to cross, including the sprawling fishing lake guaranteeing an extremely demanding approach. The 10th should be potentially driveable at 270 yards but has a rather unique hazard blocking the green from view by way of a large raised grassy bank flanked by sand.
The closing hole is a good finisher, a short par four, typically narrow and overlooked by the log cabins on the left, with probably Calderfields most contoured green to putt out on.
Play and Stay – Situated to the side of the 18th fairway the 20 log cabins come in double or twin format with modern en-suite facilities, flat screen TV’s and a range of play and stay packages. A great option for golfing/leisure breaks, they are proving to be a very valuable acquisition.
19th hole – More than enough off course charms to stay right here on-site if you are staying over. Calderfields enjoys a vibrant social side, seasonal parties, quizzes, curry nights and discos are always on the agenda, plus the club hosts regular tribute nights too. Check out the calendar on the website, and time your society trip with a big event. The Sunday carvery has become so popular that you need to book in well in advance.
Staffordshire Performance Centre – In 2016 Calderfields made a big statement of intent towards their golf and retail side by recruiting top Midlands based AA PGA Fellow Professional Jamie Cundy. His task was to give the centre game improvement facilities, the likes of which they have never had before. It’s all ongoing and will culminate with the opening of a new nine hole par three course in 2019. In June 2017, Jamie opened the all new Staffordshire Performance Centre on the premises.
This custom built indoor centre includes a large retail area, indoor putting green and simulator room with Trackman 4. Full gym facilities are there too as are treatment rooms and a new acupuncture room too. Adjacent to the building is Calderfield’s new driving range, open to all.
On Saturday Sept 16th MG’s favourite playing event returned to Nailcote Hall for the fourth year running as 16 pairs took part once again in the Matchplay Masters.
Unfortunately we had a couple of late withdrawals which left us giving a couple of byes out for the first round but the enthusiasm of the players who did take part wasn’t affected. We had a mixture of MGMM regulars who have supported this event from the beginning, plus some new faces too, many who had never visited Nailcote or played on The Cromwell Course before, and were set to have their eyes opened!
We were also joined for the first time by new event sponsors The Twisted Frog and the Hole-In-One club who had a great time with the golfers and kindly donated plenty of gifts to the welcome bags on arrival, and prize table later. They took part in the event too, apparently though the less said about their golf the better, but I can equally say the same about myself!
But the proper golfers came out in force too, and as usual everything was very keenly contested throughout. As we do in all of our Matchplay Masters, we offer all of the first round losers a second chance to carry on competing in our ‘plate’ competition – so every pair gets a minimum of 18 holes in the day.
Following bacon rolls and coffees in the clubhouse the first two rounds teed off back to back before we all met up again for lunch. Tales of Cromwell woe rang the air as usual over sandwiches and fries, but some of the newbies had actually done quite well this year, and a few more familiar Cromwell veterans had found themselves relegated to the Plate.
Two semi finals in each event teed off at 2pm and these all very closely matched affairs, both semis in the main event went to a final hole, with Albert and Andrew from Abbey Hotel eventually going through to meet Alan from Northants and MG ambassador Chris from Coventry in the main final. Chris actually came off the subs bench to replace Alan’s original partner who had to dash off to Wembley for a tea time kick off! Watch Spurs draw 0-0 with Swansea or play in the MGMM final? You decide that one!
The plate final teed off at the same time as the main one and was actually closer fought. It was also a battle of MG Ambassadors too as Walsall based Paul and his partner Alan took on our Andy and partner Tony from Westwood GC – former winners of the plate comp. Looked like repeat was on the cards too, as the Leek pair took a two hole lead into the final four holes. But back came Walsall with a vengeance as the rain that had stayed off all day began to fall. Some great play took it all the way to their final hole where a great drive from Alan proved to be enough to triumph.
The main final had ended much sooner and was something of a one sided affair as the newly formed Alan and Chris team were blown away by our Abbey Hotel duo. But it wasn’t bad golf that lost it; it was consistent play that won it instead, Albert and Andrew, who first played the Cromwell with us at our Par 3 Championships in June, played some solid golf all day, dovetailed beautifully and were very worthy winners of the Matchplay Masters IV.
We held the prize presentation at 5.30 and among other gifts, the winners got themselves a new Yonex wedge each – on watching them play earlier, I wasn’t totally sure they needed them!
Another great Matchplay though for us – it’s an event that never disappoints and will be the first one in the diary again for 2018. Thanks again to Graeme at Hole-In-One Club and Ewan from Twisted Frog, both great company and we hope it’s the first of many events we can welcome them too.
Final thanks to the Nailcote team yet again – owner Rick usually spends all day with us at the matchplay, snapping away with his camera. He wasn’t able to this time but did pop in before play and also expressed a little concern about the standard of The Cromwell after poor weather of late. No-one who played agreed with him in the slightest, it played great Rick, many thanks and also to David and the staff for the great food and drink.
MGMM V will take place in spring 2018 – date TBC.
Formed in 1905 Wrekin Golf Club in Wellington near Telford is situated just off the M54 J7.
The course nestles under the famous Shropshire landmark, The Wrekin and as you drive to the Clubhouse adjacent to the Ercall Woods look out for deer in close proximity.
To master the course your drives need to be accurate and a good short game helps when playing the six varied par threes
The par 66, SSS 68, is a good test for the average golfer and as you cross the drive to complete the final four holes the challenge to keep a good round going is a test for most.
There’s a popular mis-conception in golf that it’s got to be big to be worthwhile. Wrekin Golf Club disputes that theory and makes a forcible argument that yardage doesn’t make any less a test or more importantly, any less enjoyable.
The course takes golfers on a winding, wonderful path under the shadow of the famous Shropshire hill, The Wrekin, and never too severely, just a very beautiful scenic walk.
Plus it’s not like you need to leave the big dog at home either, realistically a good ten of the 12 par fours are driver suitable, and a pair of them are realistically reachable too, increasing the excitement factor.
You also get some inspiring tee shot views, the 10th and the 13th are the best examples of that, who doesn’t enjoy opening their shoulders a little to a fairway running downbank with a glorious backdrop? Plus the views from the latter tee are quite spectacular across to Telford and the countryside beyond on a clear day.
Half a dozen short holes too, the best is known as ‘The Pulpit’ a plunging par three 7th , only a little gap to aim through to a distant green over 50 metres below your feet. The woodland on the left threatens out of bounds, favour the right for safety and a tough up and down awaits.
‘Long Valley’ a tremendous sideways sloping par four comes along next, stroke index 1 and rightfully so. It might need a solid up and down to grab a par here.
Wrekin is beautifully conditioned; the greens were smooth in texture and teasing in examination. Full greens all year round now, a feather in the cap of Head Greenkeeper Harry Jones, they think very highly of Harry and his team here.
But our abiding memory of Wrekin is the sheer friendliness of the place, they have a warm welcome in store to all visitors here, the first floor Clubhouse is spacious with panoramic views towards the Wrekin & the Cheshire plain.
Shropshire is proud of producing champion golfers; Sandy Lyle, Ian Woosnam and Peter Baker, and now Wrekin Golf Club have high hopes for the future in Will Enefer who having enjoyed a great amateur career is now embarking on the EuroPro Tour.
Visitors & Societies are very welcome so why not book now to enjoy the finest course & the friendliest club around.
For all enquiries please contact
Richard Gallier or Tanya May – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The South Staffordshire Club is always a special visit. Nestled in the leafy suburbs of Wolverhampton, a traditional members club with a much admired parkland course that never fails to impress. Messrs Vardon, Colt, Braid and more recently Donald Steel have all played their parts in creating a layout that charms, teases and yields a low score very reluctantly.
South Staffordshire celebrated 125 years of existence last year. The Championship layout resembles a classic English country park in looks, the manicured rolling fairways, tree lined with rows of mature oaks, pines and conifers are as pretty as a picture yet demand tip top accuracy off the tee to negotiate your way around them for a clear path to distant greens.
Not as much as a puddle in sight for a water hazard but the bunkers are well placed, out of bounds is a frequent consideration and it’s certainly a place to test your short game. A few raised and contoured putting surfaces feature banks and subtle slopes designed to lead your ball toward nasty spots where rescuing pars will be tough.
The opening holes contain the better birdie prospects especially at the short fourth, and the following hole, a reachable par five. Not long after you need to probably adopt a defensive mode to survive the stretch between seven and 14 where only the short 11th offers any relief from a demanding spell of 400yard plus par fours.
Hopefully you can emerge with confidence intact to attack the final three greens, all a little easier to reach in regulation than what’s gone before although you may find that these could test your putting skills a little more severely, South Staffordshire never gives anything away too easily. The tight tree lined penultimate hole (below) with its twisting putting surface is a delight.
MG Pick – 18th 316 yards Par 4
What a setting for a finishing hole, playing your final approach to the undulating 18th green, with the distinctive clubhouse behind is one of the nicest looking scenes in West Midlands golf (main image). Yet to fully appreciate it, you need to play it well and that’s not easy. No place for a driver, rein it in from the tee a bit instead as it’s all a little narrow and you need a good fairway position to attack the green and avoid the deep traps that surround it.
Traditional facilities inside, and there is a good range of visitor and society packages and menus available for all occasions. The Clubhouse offers very comfortable surroundings where you can relax before or after a round of golf, including lounge bar, spike bar and terrace, television lounge and restaurant all of which enjoy the splendid view over the 1st and 18th holes and the countryside beyond.
Mandy Ambert – MG Lady Editor – Trentham GC – h/cap 12
In April MG Ambassador Scott and I were invited by the newly opened Midlands Golf Superstore at Stonebridge GC for a club fitting experience at their newly refurbished driving range and fitting lab.
They are well known in the West Midlands with other stores at Four Ashes and Nuneaton and it was a pleasure for me to have the experience under the careful tuition of master fitter Phil, as we tested a variety of clubs. He explained to me in terms I could understand about shaft flex for my swing, club head speed, club length and grip size and with trialling different makes of clubs it was easy to assess which were more suitable for me.
As I am keen to get some new fairway woods, I settled for the Cobra King F7s and look forward to receiving them. At my age now and a 12 handicapper with slow on-set of rheumatics and heaven knows what, I am happy to tweak a few things with my swing but would really prefer to have the clubs adapted to what I’ve got. I look to the flexibility of the juniors and remember the time when I could do that but now although still pretty active, I take paracetamol in anticipation of injury!! Not what I should be promoting as a Physiotherapist.
For those of you, irrespective of age or standard of golf, the Stonebridge store and the golf club’s facilities are very relaxing and made my day most enjoyable.
Update : Received my new fairway woods on Friday May 19th. The following week I played in a 36 hole Trentham GC ‘Major’ and only went and won the thing! As I normally tend to fade the ball, the new clubs instantly helped me to counter-act that as well as adding a bit of length. I feel so confident with them and in early June I went on to finish runner-up in another major club comp. Handicap is heading south, I’m now 11.5, aiming for single figures later this year and very happy!
Scott Woollett (MG ambassador) – Derby h/cap 15
‘Getting fitted for clubs is a sales tactic and makes no real difference.’
To prove me right, I went along to Stonebridge GC at Meridan for a fitting with Ian from Midlands Golf Pro Shop in the brand new all singing all dancing fitting bay.
I hit a few with my own Driver, Taylormade R11, and, a few 7 irons, Cleveland CG17. I hit my standard distances of 240 and 150 yards according to the swing analyser.
I wasn’t aware of the high amount of backspin I generated with my driver, 2600rpm, which apparently would cost me some run. I then started the fitting with the Taylormade M1 and M2 drivers. With both I gained more distance, 250-260yds with less spin of between 1800-2200. I also tried the new Mizuno JPX, distances were around 260yds with spin down as low as 700, but in terms of control, I had none. I sprayed the ball left, right and centre, I didn’t know where it would go.
Finally I tried the Callaway Epic Neutral. This was a revelation. My biggest was a 279yds flight, and I consistently achieved spin of around 1400. I also hit my regulation 10-15yd fade. This was the winner.
I then moved on to the irons, hitting the new Taylormades M1 & 2s, Mizunos JPX900, Cobras King F7 and the Callaway XR. I tried all with different weight shafts and flex. I like heavier clubs, so going heavier than the 85g in my own was always going to be the preferred route.
Again, I started with the Taylormades, which felt nice but didn’t really improve my current length or control. The Mizunos were very much like the driver, better distance but no control. When I tried the Callaways, Ian explained that these were the biggest hitting irons this year in all fittings. That is until I tried them. The weight and balance was nice but I just got way too much height with them. This subsequently meant they were shorter.
I approached the Cobras with absolutely no opinion as I’d never even hit or considered buying anything Cobra. After a few hits I had question why they’d never been in field of vision. They were impressive, my standard issue fade but with greater distance. I was hitting 165-170yds regularly with the 7 iron, I was officially converted.
So I’m getting the Callaway Epic Neutral Woods with Cobra King F7 Irons. So will fitted clubs help me become a better golfer? Hopefully. More importantly, I will have the confidence and belief in the clubs to make me better.
I will come back with an update as to how they have improved my game and handicap.
Richard Gray – Stoke-onTrent h/cap 11
I visited Midlands Golf National Club Fitting Centre (Nuneaton) with Mandy on Thursday April 27th and was extremely impressed with the whole setup. I had initially gone for a driver fitting but came away on the verge of buying a new set of irons. I must stress that this was not as a result of a hard sell. Quite the opposite. Once Phil had gone through the warm up he got me to hit numerous balls with my current 7 iron. Then, with the aid of the trackfinder, he fully explained what I was producing in terms of club head speed, launch angle, spin speed and deviation from target line and then took me through a variety of different shafts (flex, stiffness and length) and club heads comparing each with my original.
Having worked through the 7 iron options Phil then looked at my driver again comparing club head speed, spin and launch angle. The interesting result was that a Taylor Made M1 driver gave me only an extra 15 yards but the M1 7 iron gave me an extra 35 yards and a launch angle of 21 degrees compared with 28 on my current club, any wonder the ball was stalling in mid-flight and going nowhere.
At the end of the session Phil did not try and push me towards any purchase especially the driver but said that he would keep all the data and for me to !et him know what clubs, and when, suited me.
I would rate Phil’s easy manner, in depth knowledge and explanatory skill absolutely first class and would highly recommended him if you are considering any new clubs.
The main man – Phil, Midlands Golf
The first step of any custom fitting session is communicating with the customer. We use a detailed custom fitting form to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the player and what they are looking to achieve from the session, which we then keep on our records for the next time the customer visits us.
For some it may be more distance, more consistency throughout the bag, or for some it means focusing on a specific part of their game.
The next step is for the client to hit some shots using their current clubs so the fitter is able to see the pattern of shots and determine what aspect of the clients game would benefit the most. Using latest GC2 launch monitor data the fitter is able to see direction, dispersion, ball speed, clubhead speed, launch angle and spin of the customer shots.
Using this information, the fitter is able to use their own product knowledge and experience to make very specific recommendations, focusing on the areas that will bring the most substantial improvement to the player and their scores. Many customers come to us with a specific brand in mind but once they have tried a range of brands often end up with a different brand. All of the brands are different which is why it is key to go to a fitter who has a large range of brands for the customer to try.
The main aim at the end of any fitting session is to have provided the customer with the best clubs available, giving them greater consistency so that they can enjoy playing golf more!
Midlands Golf ” For Everything Golf “
Golf retail superstores with full custom fitting services provided at three locations:
Stonebridge GC – Somers Road, Meriden, Coventry, CV7 7PL – 01676 521000
Four Ashes GC – Four Ashes Road, Dorridge, Solihull, B93 8NQ – 01564 778072
Nuneaton Superstore – Weddington Road, Nuneaton, CV10 0AD – 02476 329225
Snowdonia Golf – Five amazingly good reasons to travel just that little bit further off the beaten path of North Wales golf. Five great golf clubs who love to link together to offer a superb variety of golf to visitors with some great value golf breaks.
THE GOLFING CHARMS OF SNOWDONIA
Abersoch Golf Club – Situated on the tip top of the Llyn Peninsula the popular seaside town of Abersoch contains one very nice golf course to suit all golfing tastes. Orginally designed as a links venue back in 1907 by Harry Vardon, it has stood the test of time in that sense offering a series of stunning examples of golf how it should be. However, in the 1970’s they purchased extra land to create a further loop that is much more parkland in style for an enjoyable contrast. Signature hole is all links though, the 3rd is a very long par three, towards the sea from an open tee, quite a challenge to find this green.
Pwllheli Golf Club – Not far back down the road from Abersoch is a golf club that does present some similarities but manages to retain a unique charm of its own as well. Pwllheli is also part links/part parkland, the original 18 hole course was designed by James Braid in 1909. The clubhouse is actualy the closest 19th hole location to the sea in the UK, from it’s first floor window tremendous views over Cardigan Bay to the Snowdonia hills further beyond are to be had. The links holes, with their beachside tees that stretch away down the coastline are the highlights, none more so than the short 10th with it’s distinctive cottage at the back of the green.
Nefyn & District Golf Club – The looks are unmistakeable and Nefyn, a further James Braid creation is probably the most famous golfing location in North Wales. To brave the untapped elements and see how your golf fares on the narrow peninsula with it’s lighthouse at the end, known as ‘The Point’ tends to be high on any golfer’s bucket list. That’s a memorable nine hole loop alright with tee shots over the rocky shores and a par three in between lighthouse and lifeboat station, but Nefyn also offers a further 18, some still hugging the coastline, some travelling further inland towards the mountains.
Porthmadog Golf Club – Back inland from the Llyn Peninsula and the theme of contrast continues at Porthmadog GC. Two nines of differing styles situated either side of the clubhouse. First half is all parkland with a hillside backdrop, with occasional water hazards, but then all changes as you enter the back nine. Purely links in style with a couple of holes running alongside Black Rock Sands and one named ‘Himalayas’ due to the imposing size of its fairway hugging sand dunes. Expect a thorough examination of your games especially on a breezy day, but there’s always a view like this to soothe a troubled golfer’s mind.
Royal St Davids Golf Club – Save the best for last, RSD is golfing royalty, regardless of the name. Only it’s slightly more remote location prevents it from hosting some seriously major events, because the golf course is more than up to task, often described as the UK’s toughest par 69. A broodingly raw location, pure seaside links where you actually only see the waves once, such are the towering nature of it’s huge sand dunes. Harlech Castle, perched on high overlooks proceedings to increase the dramatic effect of your location further still. RSD also offers small groups of golfers onsite accommodation and despite it’s majesty and challenge, the green fees are incredibly reasonable.
Snowdonia Accommodation – The cluster of clubs have teamed up with a number of local hotels and B & B’s to compliment your trip. Here are the best of them.
Celtic Royal Hotel – Caernarfon – 01286 674477
Caerwylan Hotel – Criccieth – 01766 522547
Fairway Country Hotel – Nefyn – 01766 721888
Plas Isa Hotel – Criccieth – 01766 522443
Royal Sportsman Hotel – Porthmadog – 01766 512015
Set on the furthest tip of the Llyn Peninsula this unique 27 hole layout is arguably Wales’ most spectacular golfing setting with views of the sea from every tee and a Snowdonia backdrop
First played as a nine hole course in 1907. Esteemed designers J.H Taylor and James Braid developed the course and its current layout in the 1920s and 30s with the former describing it as “situated on one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen.”
Nefyn doesn’t quite merit the status of ‘traditional links’, the course is set on an undulating hillside above sea level, looking down on a rocky shoreline, crashing waves and swooping gulls. Three variable loops of nine now exist following course changes back in 2014, they have gone on to only further improve this uniquely rugged golfing experience.
‘The Front’ – Par 35, 3164 yards
The Front offers an early indication of the golfing thrills that lie ahead. You’re soon challenged with an uphill second hole that doglegs around the bay, followed by two par fours that hug the rocky coastline. The short fifth has a tee that places you out on a small rocky outcrop surrounded by the sea, a spectacular setting, it’s probably here that you start to realise what a special place this is, you can fully understand those who describe it as the Welsh Pebble Beach. The Front’s closing holes take you a little more inland, your best birdie opportunities may well reside here.
‘The Old’ – Par 33, 2508 yards
A totally blind second shot up a high bank to an exposed first green offers a nervy welcome to a stretch of famous golf holes better known as ‘The Point’. Two new short holes follow, both with new USGA standard greens as you edge towards the slender part of the peninsula. The signature fourth takes you all the way to what feels like the end of civilisation, and before you traverse your way back there’s a quite superb short fifth from the lighthouse tee in a likely cross wind to the exposed
green situated above the local lifeboat station. The final four take you reluctantly back to the clubhouse, the longest hole is the eighth, an extremely tight sea edge par five, which if it plays into the wind might be something of a very long trek!
Apart from the magnificent views all over, nature lovers will enjoy the resident group of oyster catchers that peck away around ‘The Point’, and there’s always likely to be a seal or two bobbing around the bay somewhere around the lighthouse or lifeboat station.
The Point is probably an unlikely spot to go birdie hunting, but it’s a wonderfully unique experience. Just take plenty of balls and don’t take your game or scorecard too seriously if the elements are unfavourable.
‘The New’ – Par 36, 3356 yards
The third loop is the longest of all, and takes you further inland with a strong collection of good length par fours, sweeping dog legs and well placed bunkering. With the promise of a spectacular Snowdonia backdrop on a clear day the special nature of your surroundings doesn’t diminish one iota and the final hole offers one final stunning panoramic view of everything around you.
MG’s Pick – 4th hole ‘Old’ 405 Yards, Par 4
The ultimate in risk and reward. There’s a very generous fairway on the right for the conservative approach, but as the crow flies there’s a huge carry over the bay that just dares you to be brave. It’s all about how much you feel you can take on for the chance to play a shorter approach to a tight green set between two rocky outcrops under the gaze of the lighthouse. Awesome.
Traditional and very friendly facilities. An ideal society venue with a with a clubhouse lounge which enjoys panoramic views of the course and an adjoining restaurant and bar.
Nefyn – Nefyn & District Golf Club, Lon Golff, Morfa Nefyn, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 6DA
Telephone: 01758 720 102 – Email: email@example.com – Website: www.nefyn-golf-club.co.uk/
To the north-western tip of the Llyn Peninsula. Abersoch is well known for being a popular holiday location, but also offers a highly regarded all weather golf course with a split personality overlooking the seaside town.
Originally designed by Harry Vardon in 1907, he was gifted by the natural links terrain at his disposal, huge towering dunes, sandy hillocks and blind corners ensure an exhilarating and very tricky ride especially if it gets a little breezy. Yet Abersoch now has another side, designed in the 1970s the closing stretch is pure parkland, set back from the sea with supreme panoramic views from the other side of the Cambrian coastline to Harlech Castle and Snowdonia further beyond.
It would be churlish to dwell too long on the comparative lack of length, it’s completely unnoticeable once you’re out there as nothing is too short to take advantage of fully without considering the risk element. The second hole is a perfect example, a mere 470 yard par five but one that offers the full range of hazards, gorse, water, out of bounds and a tiny sloping green tucked away in the corner, a par is well earned.
The theme continues as the early holes edge ever closer to the seashore, time to enjoy a tremendous spell of links holes that demand great accuracy and spot on club selection at the very least. Holes seven through nine are true classics to conquer and such is the nature of the mini mountain ranges that mark the fairways, even your best hitting might still land you in an difficult spot among very inconsiderate terrain. This is where a bit of good fortune wouldn’t go amiss, but nothing but skill is required on the small sized putting surfaces, gently undulating with some tricky to reach pin positions.
Things change a little heading into the Snowdonia facing parkland stretch, although its exposed nature leaves you needing to be just as mindful of the elements as earlier. The highlights include the hillside par three 14th, playing long in a breeze and potentially penal for a tee shot that doesn’t find the putting surface. Then there’s a sweeping penultimate hole, plenty of threat from the winding ditch that seems to appear everywhere.
3rd 246 yards Par 3
From the raised tee with a sea view gazing all the way down to a distant green this hardly feels like a ‘short’ hole, but what a superb challenge it is to find this distant green in regulation. Unusually for the Abersoch front nine it is fairly open and you shouldn’t land in too much trouble providing you can cross the ditch.
The modernised clubhouse has a friendly Welsh welcome in store, a well stocked bar with guest and speciality beers on tap, the restaurant has new caterers offering breakfasts, bar snacks and attractive society menus.
ABERSOCH GOLF CLUB – GOLF ROAD, ABERSOCH, PWLLHELI, GWYNEDD LL53 7EY, LL53 7EY
Phone: 01758 712622 – Website: www.abersochgolf.co.uk/
A major East Midlands player, Morley Hayes truly has it all, you can play, learn, socialise and get your head down. All ages and abilities of golfer are welcomed and share the off course charms with many non-golfing visitors, diners, hotel guests and businesses. A hive of activity.
THE MANOR COURSE
The main 18 hole course and available to all members and non members, seven days a week including societies who can happily book weekend morning rounds 12 months of the year with playability guaranteed in all but the most wintery conditions.
Designed in 1988 to appeal to all ages and abilities with wide fairways and a lack of over penal rough, The Manor also packs a punch and is very appealing to the long hitters. Some good long par fours exist, accentuated by the hilly nature of the course, demanding that little bit of extra effort for the more accomplished golfers looking to live up to their handicaps. Championship length it reaches from the back tees but there are four tee options to choose from in all.
For all players though it’s the water features that grab the attention, two lakes and a number of smaller hazards, mainly of the greenside variety to test your accuracy and club selection too. An early test as the opening hole has one, probably not much more than a nine iron in, but a watery grave could await an ill-judged early approach.
Then it’s all about the driver and those gentle undulations as a lengthy stretch follows before the water comes into sight again at the downhill seventh and especially threatens on our signature hole.
Both nines culminate right by the clubhouse so there’s a chance of a quick drink and a toilet break before embarking on a back nine that tests in equal measure, especially the stretch between 11 and 13.
It all leads you towards the scenic highlight which comes at the 14th and 15th bordering Hayes Wood. Shorter and friendlier par fours, and as long as you are mindful of the out of bounds threat they should go down as decent birdie chances. There’s always the possibility too of spotting the resident deer population who like to venture out occasionally to have a nibble on the Manor’s fairways and light rough.
Towards the end the water comes around again, greenside at the 17th which you will have discovered earlier as it also affects the 10th hole. Finally to complete a challenging closing pair, the lake that requires a 200 yard carry to find dry land at the closing hole, which with a number of trees and it’s raised green has to be one of the toughest in the East Midlands.
MG Pick – 8th hole 321 yards Par 4
The shortest par four on the course, made tougher last year by the re-shaping of the greenside lake, creating an even slimmer landing area, guaranteeing therefore that taking driver from the tee is a risky proposition. The line is left to open up a short iron approach between the two guarding oaks with nothing less than steely precision needed to avoid the watery grave on the right. You can ill afford to bail out to the left either, chipping back towards the lake across the narrow green is a scary prospect. A proper Seve touch might be requied if you put yourself in that sort of peril.
19th hole – Your first taster of the off course charms of Morley Hayes should really happen in The Pavilion. The first floor spike bar is comfy with Sky Sports on the big TV’s plus a full menu range that you can eat either indoors or Al Fresco (weather permitting) on the outdoor south facing terrace with views of practically the full golf course below.
The Pavilion also contains the well very stocked pro shop which overlooks the first tee. The first floor Pavilion Suite caters for full dinner and buffet menus and seats up to 125 with adjoining outside terrace, ideal for that special event. The Syndicate Room is for private meetings and seats up to 12 people in a business environment with telephone conferencing and Wi-Fi.
ROOSTERS BAR AND RESTAURANT
MG visited Roosters following a rather damp review round in late autumn. We ordered, sat down and had the most pleasant of surprises, heated seats! A godsend in the damp state we found ourselves in and a pleasant time was had by all as we tucked into freshly home made burgers, fries and a side salad.
Roosters serves traditional bar meals in a pub like environment with modern décor and lighting, the perfect place to enjoy a good meal or just a few drinks with children welcomed to share the dining area. As in The Pavilion, Roosters spills outdoors, this time into the courtyard, with topiary trees and countryside views.
The award winning Dovenote goes up another notch, taking you into the realms of fine dining. The AA rosette restaurant won the Derbyshire Restaurant of the Year award in 2012 and features A la carte dishes in both English and Continental cuisine. Not just that, there’s variety in abundance to suit every occasion with set lunch menus, a daily midweek dinner special and traditional Sunday lunches. Continuing that theme the Dovecote also offers a Champagne Breakfast three mornings a week and Derbyshire Afternoon Tea on Fridays.
MORLEY HAYES – THE HOTEL
With the wonderful views of the parkland golf courses amidst the Derbyshire countryside look no further than the AA 4 star luxury hotel, Morley Hayes.
One of the most luxurious hotels in Derbyshire with 32 bedrooms, all air-conditioned – from the Executive Room to the Penthouse Suite, the Family Room to the Honeymoon Suite you will be spoilt for choice. The aforementioned superb Champagne breakfast served in the Dovecote restaurant is a further reason why Morley Hayes is also a great choice for weekend getaways for couples.
Available facilities include Luxury Bathrooms, Private Balconies or Terraces, Flat Screen Satellite TV, WIFI and High-speed Internet access in all rooms and suites. Two of the bedrooms are available with disabled facilities in the bathrooms including access for a wheelchair and walk-in shower.
Societies and travelling play and stay golfers can rest assured too that it’s a very short taxi ride to the bright lights of Derby centre should they fancy venturing out for the evening.
ACADEMY, TUITION, GAME IMPROVEMENT
The Tower Course – Developed to provide an ideal venue for starter golf, short game improvement and as an extra addition/warm up course for group golf occasions. The Tower is a nine hole, Par 30 layout, the dog leg second is the longest test as 308 yards. With occasion water features, trees and gentle undulations it does present a good test with the putting surfaces more than living up to the quality of their neighbours on The Manor. In a recent innovation Morley Hayes became one of the first golf courses in the area to add 15 inch diameter holes to the Tower greens in addtion to the traditional ones, in order to promote a faster game and also to make the game a little easier for juniors and beginners.
The East Midlands Golf Academy – The EMGA make good use of The Tower Course and during their 8 year history have transformed many junior and beginner golfers into accomplished players. James Whately has played a major role in the success of the EMGA, in the beginning he was the lone pro, now as Academy Director he has watched it grow into a major concern which now employs four full time professionals. At their disposal, in addition to The Tower Course is the 17 bay, all-weather floodlit range with power tees and additional canopy covered open bays.
Tuition is naturally widely available for all ages and abilities, the coaches can call on the use of both the Flightscope X2 launch monitor and now the all new SAM putting system which shows 27 characteristics of your putting stroke.
The EMGA staff offer lessons for Beginners, Juniors, Ladies, Schools, Disability, County and England teams as well as other professionals. They have an online diary which gives clients a 24/7 chance to book, available to view at www.emga.co.uk
Morley Hayes also plays host to the pioneering Derby Performance Golf Academy. The innovative programme, set up in 2007 provides a two year education and golf training course for 16-19 year olds in further education at the nearby Derby College. Students there, who all benefit from specialised performance coaching at Morley Hayes have enjoyed huge success in recent times in national and regional events, many are also going on to forge burgeoning careers in the golf industry.
LIFESTYLE MEMBERSHIP AT MORLEY HAYES
Unlike traditional golf club membership, this will take the form of a flexible points-based system where for an affordable initial joining fee, golf enthusiasts will become a lifestyle golf member.
This initial fee will entitle members to a set number of points to get them started. Points will be deducted for each round of golf played and the number of points used will depend on what day and time of day they play.
Once a member has used up all their points, they will be able to top-up throughout the year with the purchase of bundles of new points, allowing them to spread the cost and budget for their year’s golf. It will also give them the opportunity to get an official CONGU golf handicap and play in official competitions.
Commenting on the launch of the new lifestyle golf membership, Daniel Delaney – Golf Manager at Morley Hayes said:
“The introduction of our new lifestyle golf membership is very exciting. It’s something we’ve never done before and will allow us to offer an official CONGU handicap and run official competitions for our new members, which will be a great addition to the services already available at Morley Hayes Golf.
“Five and seven day memberships will be on offer and online booking for tee times will also be available, giving our members even more flexibility.”