The Players Club is simply all about the game – a modern oasis of golfing excellence in the West Country. Superbly situated too, just five minutes from junction 18 of the M4 and close enough to the centre of Bristol for a taxi trip in the evening, with room for 30 golfers staying onsite and further accommodation just down the road.
Golf wise they offer 45 holes of it, all of it designed to a Championship standard in 2002 with USGA tees and greens and the reliability that comes along with that. There’s a huge practice range onsite plus a short game area and four putting greens. You’re not short on amenities at all; instead, you might be short of reasons not to come here.
Since lockdown ended few golf resorts have been busier as the players have rushed back to the Players Club in their droves. No sign of an Autumn slow down either, Director of Golf and course designer Adrian Stiff told us when we visited on September 21st that they’d had a record 141 societies come through the doors already that month.
The resort’s extremely convenient location just off the M4 is a major contributory factor to that, its close enough from the western suburbs of London to come for a day out, and Londoners do come here a lot.
It’s even closer to the centre of Birmingham and that’s the market Adrian is keen on increasing on next for 2021. Karl and I live in Leek, N Staffs and got here in 2hr 15 min – it’s an hour less than that from the second city.
There are two full-sized layouts here, the Codrington and the Stranahan, with a little tweak they combine to produce a true Championship challenge that plays regular host to the Euro-pro Tour plus as a stage one qualifier for the European Tour itself, they are looking forward to holding that again in 2021.
The Codrington is the flagship challenge and for golfing visitors, it contains exactly the sort of golfing you would expect and goes a little further too. The variety on the tee boxes offers a fair test for all abilities of players, and although there’s reasonable width on offer there are frequent patches of rough and long grasses lined up to ask for a bit of carry first.
The large resort-style and free-formed bunkers are expectantly there around the greens to display the obvious hazards, what you find are even more testing are just how contoured and undulating these large putting surfaces are.
It might be your skills with the short stick that prove to be the key element for success here.
With a backdrop of ancient woodland and some openness too in places that encourages the elements to have a say in your fortunes on some long par fours and fives, we could see why this is rated as one of the tougher layouts in the area, one that also proves to be something of a mecca for local professionals to call home.
18 handicappers Karl and I were relieved to play it on a calm warm day, throw a bit of wind into the mix and The Codrington threatens some serious teeth.
Yet the fun element is all there too, it has some seriously exciting golf holes, three major lakes here and naturally this is where the signature holes sit, ones that grow in stature the further you travel.
The third here reminded us a little of the third on The Brabazon, water all the way down the left side, then cutting across to deter the bigger hitter. Then the huge multi-levelled green is as sloping as it gets, far too easy to trickle back off the front of it if you’ve not judged your short approach or first putt correctly.
The tenth sits nicely in front of the clubhouse and pro shop, a super par three over the water with another large-sized green surrounded by an attractive woodland backdrop.
The Codrington is one of those courses you get a decent look at before you park the car, a good mile of entrance drive affords you a glimpse of what’s to come which very much includes 15 and 16.
One lingering look at these holes from the passenger seat, and you’re just relishing your chance to have a go on them later.
The course hits a memorable peak here – the lake splits the two holes and provides a simply gorgeous setting. The par-five 15th plays a little longer, gently dog-legging around the water and finishing with attractive links looking backdrop to the sloping putting surface, grassy hollows will eagerly gather in anything offline or too lengthy.
Turning back the other way with the lake to the left this time, the 16th is a superb looking short hole from a raised tee with bunkers short of the green and not a lot of room for error at the rear either. Another epic green sits here too.
After the length around the turn and the signature challenges that ensue; you should be relieved to find a nice pair of shortish par fours to finish with.
The penultimate hole is a decent scoring prospect for sure but there’s something of a final test on 18 by way of a few trees and bushes in front of the green.
They will need care to avoid, and extra pressure might be added as it all unfolds underneath the clubhouse balcony and a watching gallery if the weather is good.
The Stranahan takes on the role of the second course at The Players Club and does it all very effectively indeed. Designed to the same high specifications as its sister course there’s no lowering of the standard here and although of shorter length, there are still a few questions asked over your accuracy and course management skills.
Yet it is a friendlier and more score-able course with a little less water about, although there is a notable exception and it comes right at the start, no hangovers allowed here.
Even though it’s just a mere flick of a wedge required, your very first tee shot is to pretty much an island green, quite a daunting prospect – quirky yet dangerous, you don’t want to begin with a card wrecker but you just might.
Normality then ensues as things open out a little and you’re treated to some lovely views of the surrounding countryside with the man-made contours and susceptibility to the elements the main hazards to conquer.
Seven short holes in total, two of them provide a little variety on the back nine by cutting through an attractive woodland path in succession to each other.
Once again and in similarity to the Codrington, the Stranahan’s USGA greens have a real test in store, multi-levelled in places and some seriously tricky run-off areas are present too.
The course in general certainly offers a less taxing time, but the same can’t really be said about what faces you on the shortest grass of all.
Yet the lesser length and the amount of par threes means that the Stranahan should be played in three hours and not much more, possibly giving you the chance to have a go at holes 37-45 too.
One of the reasons why there are so many pros making Players Club their home is that they also get a great opportunity to regularly sharpen up their short games on the Watergarden Course.
This is no pitch and putt, in fact by yardage ratio it contains far more of a water threat than The Codrington. Once again the USGA greens are there. But this time they are tiny in comparison meaning pinpoint accuracy is required all of the time.
The good news is that you get nine holes on the Watergarden as part of a summer Codrington green fee, so save an hour and play this fun little gem too, open from April to November and soon to be extended to 18 holes.
Attractively constructed in Cotswold Stone, the clubhouse is large in size and contains six function rooms to cater for all occasions. The first-floor Players Bar, serving food and drink all year round overlooks the Codrington’s 18th green with an outdoor balcony for sunny days outside.
The courtyard also offers plenty of seating for outdoor dining when conditions allow.
Players and Stayers
5 rooms sit onsite, all with en-suite facilities and Wi-Fi included too. All can be configured to suit a traveling party of golfers. A further option just down the road at Canon Court Mews, self-catering holiday cottages out in the countryside, and all together catering for a further 24 guests.