The oldest club and course in Leicestershire can also lay claim to being a significant part of what is arguably the county’s finest natural landscape.
This layout which has stood proud on the current site since 1890 sits in an elevated position on the edge of Charnwood Forest and benefits from many of its features, a heathland terrain with ancient rock formations, dry stone walls and indigenous heather, gorse and attractive plant life. The course is designated as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) by Natural England because of its rich variety of habitat for flora and fauna. Naturally that also attracts many wildlife species as well in making the course their homes, which includes (below) their resident flock of rare Soa Sheep.
The nine hole, 18 tee layout once had the magical talent of James Braid to tweak things around a bit, other than that it has stood the test of time pretty effortlessly. No-one tends to come here and take it apart, the regular changes of elevation, twists and turns and openness in places to the elements gives you more than enough to think about.
No bunkers exist here, and save for a small pond on the corner of the dog leg 3rd/12th no water hazards either. That fact was picked up ahead of arrival by MG lady editor Mandy who had never played here before she turned up for the review round with editor Phil in early May, if she had pre-conceptions of a comfortable time, they were soon put to rest.
The first hole is not a long par four and greets you generously with some fairway width, but approach shots are difficult to judge towards what is mostly likely to be at least a partially blind target.
The third is a delight, over the dry stone wall and down the bank with a copse of trees on the right and the hidden water hazard too combining to deter an attempt at cutting the corner a little on this undulating dog leg challenge.
The next two holes gently climb you towards the highest point of the course which is more than worth it when you get there, but in the meantime there’s a short four with the dry stone wall crossing the fairway. Then your first par three comes along and needs a good hit, especially during your first loop when stretching out to 183 yards in length, the adjoining woodland to the left is a haven for the local wildlife.
The sixth/15th is an extremely demanding long par four on the first nine, but for the gents it lengthens a touch but becomes a workable par five on the closing half. It’s a double par five for the ladies but in all cases this is all about the spectacular nature of your surroundings and the glorious expanse of your tee shot view, a wide ranging view of the Leicestershire countryside to the left, all the way over to Loughborough, and beyond too on the clearest of days.
Out of bounds features inevitably on that side and the visible trouble spots on the opposite flank ensure it’s quite a nervy tee shot in store too. The right to left sloping nature of this hole is a further factor to consider when getting closer to the green but it’s a quite stunning challenge, showing off Charnwood Forest at its very best.
A beautiful par three to follow, a different angle on approach per each nine, both give you a lovely woodland backdrop yet the narrow green may test your chipping game to its fullest amongst the tricky banking.
Eight and nine or 17 and 18 are both sweeping and attractive right to left dog leg holes to keep up the high standard and give you a lovely and suitably testing finish. The former is a tougher challenge on the second nine with the addition of some extra yardage; the closing hole sends you to a slippery putting surface nice and close to the clubhouse patio area for a little added pressure.
MG Pick 2nd/11th – 433/464 yards Par 4
A quite magical tee site, underneath the shadow of the imposing Hanging Stone Rocks, present here for all of 620 million years. Beautiful views into the far distance too yet it’s a bit of a beast of a hole, one that dog legs around the rock formation and woodland, then plunges down to a distant green on land sloping quite noticeably from left to right.
The single floor clubhouse spills out to the attractive patio area outdoors, a real sun trap on the nicest of days. Club stewards Helen and Simon produce a full range of locally sourced menu options for all occasions including bespoke society package deals, all is done in the friendliest of environments too.
Practice facilities include driving nets, a putting green plus the recent creation of the pictured short game area, perfect for pitching and wedge warm ups.