Newark Golf Club

There are 2 kinds of bad rounds of golf in life. The first is the round that you walk away from thinking “I can play better than that, I know I can, I can’t wait to get on the driving range to correct things and get back out there”. Then there’s the other type of bad, which when you walk away  you think “I wonder how much of my money I’d get back for my clubs if I put them on eBay??” Or “I wonder if the club would refund me any of my membership if I was to cancel it now?”

A week before arriving at Newark I’d played a deplorable round of golf and felt very much like the latter. It had been poring with rain, I’d forgotten to take my proper waterproofs, and had a thousand and one other excuses as well!! It was so bad that I didn’t even play the last 4 holes. ‘When the enjoyment stops, stop!’ (I think that may relate to something else, but it fitted the bill pretty well!)

As much as when I’d walked off the course never wanting to see another golf club again as long as I lived, a week later I found that I was happy to go again and was even looking forward to another round. There were 4 reasons for this; 1) The pain of the previous round had worn off quite a bit. 2) The sun was shining and the sky was blue (which does make a huge difference! ) 3) My other option was staying in the office. 4) It was at Newark, a course I’d played a few times before and always enjoyed, it’s a happy memory course!

So off we trotter to Newark Golf Course to see what had changed in the past few years and to see if it still really is as good as I remembered.


As soon as you arrive at the club you are aware that this is not just your average club with average facilities. The open driving range on the left as you drive in starts to tell the story of a club that has invested well in its facilities. You then enter the club shop, a big open, light shop, well stocked with all the latest equipment. Where some club shops sometimes have a bit of a factory shop feel to them, Newark’s definitely has a more ‘high end’ clothing shop atmosphere. They also have a swing studio for a little bit of fine tuning before you go out and play. Newark even have their own app which gives you a course guide, course conditions, booking facilities, and even the food menu for the clubhouse! As I say, not your standard golf club.

We sat looking through the Course Guide on the app as we tucked into our full English breakfast before going out. It gives you a bit of an insight into the course layout before you get started, if you plan on visiting Newark I strongly recommend you download it before you go. The round we had was definitely one of 2 halves, going out was a fight to stay within touching distance of my handicap, coming back in was an absolute joy, playing 4 under my handicap even with a double bogie on the last (I got a little greedy with the corner!). The course however is a lot more consistent than I am. The fairways and greens are all in fantastic condition, last years’ drought that damaged so many courses either didn’t affect Newark, or they’ve made a quick and full recovery.

Although Newark is a relatively flat course, they’ve sculpted the bunkers, greens and parts of the fairways to give the course a flowing feel to it.

The big impression the first few holes make, are that the greens are fantastic, they’re in great condition, run smoothly, straight and are a joy to putt on. If you start putting with confidence on the first few holes it’s a great feeling for the rest of the round and can make an immense impact on your scorecard.

There are a number of holes to look out for on the course. The 8th is one of these, a par 4 at 357 yards from the yellows with a dog leg right. Taking the corner on over the trees isn’t really an option unless you’re a really big hitter. Try it and land short and there are bunkers, trees and water waiting for you… in that order. Driver or long iron up to the corner and it’ll leave a 100 yard or less approach shot into the inviting green.

The 15th is the pick of the par 3s, a hole that has not so long ago been remodelled. It’s 151yards from the yellows. The green is raised higher that the tee, with a large bunker right in front of it and another to the left. Thankfully the green is in fantastic condition and slopes towards you, so a nice high struck iron sticks beautifully to the green. The trees surrounding the green just add to the visuals.

The course has a feeling of a very well-established course, with mature trees lining most of the fairways and towering above you, dividing the fairways up nicely. The years of nurture and care given to the layout and the flow make for a fantastic course, unlike many of the newer courses that tend to have a handful of good holes padded out to 18 with ‘filler holes’. Newark is a quality course throughout and of consistent quality.

As far as ticking boxes is concerned, Newark ticks as many as is possible. Great clubhouse, great Pro shop, driving range, buggies, golf simulator and great website and app. When you add all these ‘extras’ to a mature and beautifully maintained golf course, you can see why Newark is such a popular destination for so many golfers.

Ramsdale – Something for everyone

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a fair-weather golfer and I hate playing in the rain or cold. To me golf is a summer game to be played in the heat and in the sunshine! Just as it always seems to be on the TV.  However… having said all that, 90 degrees and not a cloud in the sky has its drawbacks too. But on this stunningly hot day when we visited Ramsdale, they have this rare eventuality (in this country anyway) well covered.

3 weeks into a heatwave and no rain forecast for another few weeks, has been a nightmare for golf courses around the counties. The sprinkler systems have been working overtime to try and feed the greens and tees, but sadly it’s not possible to water all the fairways on a course, so Ramsdale are in the same fight as everyone, a fight against yellow grass!

The front and back nine are like chalk and cheese. The opening holes are pretty flat and easy going, with a good score possible. The 1st and 2nd hole are both par 4s and only a little over 300 yards, so a good start is possible in theory. That is, if you’re able to avoid the very well placed bunkers.

The 1st is a dogleg left, with 2 bunkers on the corners that need a 190 yard carry to clear, or go safe with an iron and you’ll still be looking at a wedge in. Alternatively like me, you could go for an Iron and still land in a bunker!

Local knowledge goes a long way on the 5th hole. Reading the course planner only partially prepares you for the hole, 296 yards and a par 4 that has a virtual 90 degree right turn. Again, the bunkers are very well placed, too right, too left, too short and you’ll probably find one. Spence took an iron to the corner and placed it perfectly, but was quite annoyed that he hadn’t taken it on after seeing the hole from his new perspective. I took on the corner, but didn’t get enough height on it, and clipped the tree. This probably did me a favour as it took enough distance off it to avoid the bunkers! Two pars!

The 6th hole par 3 messes with your mind a little, at 117 yards it’s not the longest but with bunkers, lots of rough and water, it has it all.  It’s a “this should be easy” hole, hit the green first time and it is, miss it and you’ll struggle.

As you finish the relatively flat and meandering front 9 you’re greeted with the sooo welcome site of the halfway house hatch! As much as we were enjoying the course, the beating sun was taking its toll and we were beginning to flag.

Now I’ve seen Spence eagle a par 4 at Royal St George’s, but I’ve never seen as big a smile on his face as when he reappeared from the hatch with two cold lagers in his hand. It took all our effort not to down it in one and go straight back for another. But being ultimate professionals, we kept it to 1, which we took up the hill to the 10th tee to enjoy.

The back nine changes this course completely, you start up high and play along the top of a hill, which gives you some stunning views over Nottinghamshire and back over the front 9. It feels like a completely different course.

The 9th is so open and so inviting to smash as big a drive as possible. A sliced drive and 2 poor iron shots left me in a shockingly bad position and facing an 8 or 9 on my score card for the first time in ages. With a long putt back down the green I was able to rescue a 9. Thank goodness I hadn’t had the second pint! I’d probably have ended up well into double figures. Spence on the other hand played it like a pro, down the fairway, onto the green to putt, the first of 3 straight pars. My suggestion to him, “if you’re handicap is to come down, your beer consumption needs to go up!”

The dry weather has led to harder fairways and more roll on your drives, this is never more evident than on the 12th. A big straight drive down hill will roll and roll. Even a short driver will get 250-300 yards on this hole, and you’ll only need a short iron onto the green to finish.

The hard fairways were really rewarding good straight drives, but they can also create their own challenges. The 13th for example. With a decent drive you’re left with a sloping fairway left to right on to the green. It’s a par 5 so you have 2 efforts. I hit a good 3 wood with my second shot, pitching it to the left of the fairway. I caught it as well as any 3 wood I’ve ever hit. But as soon as it pitched, it bounced right… a lot! A soft fairway would have probably caught it and left me on the right of the fairway, but not today. It rolled and rolled and gathered speed right into the rough. Rescuing a 6 was a huge relief.

The poster hole of the course has to be the 15th, a high elevated tee looking down to a pristine fairway is as enjoyable drive as I’ve played this year. With just a small bunker catching anything short and right, it’s as safe a drive as you’ll find. Catch it just right and you’ll watch it sail high and up to the wide-open fairway.

Another beer, burger, chips and Denmark vs France on the TV was the perfect end to the round. Ramsdale is a great example of a modern golf course. It has a good 18 hole course, an additional 18 hole par 3 course, which is great for young ones, beginners or just those looking to sharpen up their short game. And, for a bit of fun, an 18 hole pirate themed adventure golf course. Add to that a great restaurant, bar and very well stocked golf shop, Ramsdale has all you’ll need for a golfer of any ability.

Beeston Fields – a relaxing, calm oasis

What a stunner! As Beeston Fields rightly says on the website, “a relaxing, calm oasis, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” It’s truly hard to play this course and believe you’re only a stone’s throw away from the A52 and just over 3 miles into the centre of Nottingham itself.  I say a stone’s throw, it was probably further than our best drive on the day!

On entrance to the club you drive through a tree-lined drive, Old Drive, which certainly lives up to its’ name leading to the clubhouse, formerly the home of Sir Harold Bowden founder of the Raleigh Cycle Company, dating back to 1837.  Being guided around the clubhouse later in the day by George Conrad, General Manager, he pointed out the Raleigh logo on the original fireplace, now the two-tabled snooker hall where you can feel the history flowing through the room.

After meeting George initially at the club, we were guided to the pro shop, now located in the clubhouse itself, where we were handed our playing cards and a beautifully presented course guide. This offered details on each hole, length of hole, and what I personally describe as a well detailed obstacle course, with a huge right bias which gives you plenty of practice from beneath trees, bushes and rough throughout the challenging 71 par course.


A steady walk down to the first tee where you are greeted by what used to be the pro shop, and now houses a custom club fitting room where you’ll have help at hand from the two golf pros; Natalie Clarke and Antony Ryder.  The first hole really sets the high standard of the green keeping on the well groomed course, with a glimpse of the green in the distance at 304 yards and a steady 4-par first hole.  Shaking hands with Newbie, we commenced play.


Newbie taking his first drive of the day at what must have been a whopping 250 yards just short of the lake slightly left of the green, leaving a nice pitch onto the green and assuring me he doesn’t always play this way.  Yeah, right!  Straight in for par, and we’ll say no more about how I ended that hole!

Onto the second tee, crossing a short flat bridge and over the lake.  The country feel came into play with squirrels and pheasants crossing the fairway on the hole.  I swear these were putting me off my game already! (#anyexcusewilldo).  After a short hole on the 3rd we get to the fourth, and Newbie tells me that this is a green that not even the powers above can possibly master!

The advice for this hole would be to get below the flag and be careful not to overdo the putting – you’ll end up back on the fairway with the gradient this green offers.  Fortunately for us, due to the winter we’ve only just come through, the greens are running on the slow side, which really helped on this particular green.


There are two holes, 5 and 12, on the course where a bell is found to inform the next players following that they are clear to play, they are truly blind holes from the tee.  I’d advise ringing and moving to the sides in case there is a Tiger following on, with a huge drive.

For me, and I don’t know why, but as soon as you see the OoB (Out of Bounds) highlighted on a course guide, it offers what can only be described as a magnet!  Unfortunately for the neighbours of the course, they must have an extra ball in their perfect primulas, “stupid boy!”

The Stroke Index for hole 7 indicates 1, which I would tend to agree with as a par 4 hole.  You really need to get short of the right-bias for this hole, unless you can magic the ball round the corner with an excellent drive.  It needs to be straight and centre for the next fairway, just in time for the second huge drive needed to reach the green in two, to help with achieving par, a challenging hole even for the dedicated golfer!

Teeing off from the 8th, be sure to take a look at the course guide, you’ll find the back end behind the bunker ahead is much larger than you’d expect, so don’t under-do this, be sure to get over the bunker, but if you pull right, be sure to shout “fore” for the players at the 9th tee.  In hindsight, it gives you the inclination to look back towards the 8th whilst on the 9th tee yourself.

As Newbie and I approached the 10th tee, his game really took a turn!  A great swing, strike and drive right onto the fairway, couldn’t have been a better shot, being dead centre – it’s a pity we weren’t on the 12th hole because it would have been a shot to be proud of.  Sorry Newbie!


Hole 14, though short, and a great opportunity to capture a photo, is deceiving.  This needs to hit the green in a single shot and if you’ve got the skills, some slight backspin to stop it on point. A slight draw or fade and you’re in the trees, short and you’ll land in the bunker,  going long there is a huge roll off, which will let your ball keep going into the trees at the back. Personally, I think this hole should be rated higher on the score index, especially as a par 3.  There isn’t much chance for a comeback if you’ve executed incorrectly, fortunately for me, it was my one and only par on the day, hero!


At this stage, you’ll be hoping you’re not getting tired from the course.  In comparison to the 14th you’ll have just played, the 15th looks like a very long walk to the flag, which again you capture a glimpse of in the distance, thinking, “is that actually where I need to get to?”  Yes, it really is!  You get to the end of the 15th hoping for a shorter hole, to find the 16th is another huge drive up the fairway for a back-to-back par 5.  A great test of your golfing ability and fitness which I clearly need to work on!

Following the 17th hole, you walk down a small pathway, perfectly manicured like the rest of the course, and across the gated area to be faced with an absolutely stunning view for the 18th back to the clubhouse.  This was a true moment of “wow.”  What a stunning clubhouse it is!  I’d agree with the score index on this hole, it’s two, nice gentle swings to reach the green in two, giving you a good chance of birdie if you’ve hit the green in a good position.  Probably my best hole of the day – which made me look excellent in front of people watching from the clubhouse (good job they didn’t see the remainder of the round!).  The cut and finish of this hole is truly superb – it’s a beautiful entry to the hole where the fairway merges with the green with precision.

A quick handshake again between Newbie and myself to finalise the hole and thank each other for the game, and off we walked to the car park.  When you’ve completed your round there is an air shoe cleaner, to rid those blades of grass that has stuck to the sole.  Actually, we didn’t have very much to clean off due to the great weather conditions of the day.  Then a short walk back to the car to change the golf shoes, and put the clubs in the car boot.

Following the course we decided to take our chances at ‘a hole in one’ in the 19th.  First attempt, and no out of bounds in here, much to the appreciation of the neighbours!

The newly refurbished restaurant and bar is open to the public and gives a great view of the Park and the 18th green.  The team in the restaurant are friendly, helpful and prompt with food which was much-appreciated by the hungry golfers, and is consistent with the high standard the club prides itself on.


The club’s lunch menu has recently been updated and has been put together to ensure that everyone is catered for – though, I’m sure like most things, it’s impossible to please everyone!  We both ate the chilli burritos and we’d absolutely recommend these, superb!  It’s also worth keeping in mind the restaurant can accommodate up to 120 people, so for dinner parties or other social groups and clubs, this is an ideal location.

The course is still owned by the Mitchell family, and is now run by the great-niece of Fred Mitchell, Philippa Marshall who is one of the few female Managing Directors of a golf club in the UK and a single figure handicap golfer. Philippa is certainly not afraid of investing in the club, having spent thousands upon thousands on the Walled Gardens, where the wedding business to the golf club is found.

There is ongoing investment in this club, the staff and the greenskeepers. A brand new Greens Shed houses all of the greenskeeping equipment.  A new and experienced head greenskeeper, Steve,  succeeds David, the greenskeeper for 32 years, and a new biomass boiler is  more eco-friendly, and there is a bar ‘app’  to keep tabs!

We enjoyed our day here as the County Golfer team and would urge you to take a closer look at the facilities that this club has to offer in addition to the fabulous course on show – we’ll certainly return ourselves in the future!  And finally a big thank you to George Conrad and the team at Beeston Fields for their excellent hospitality and clear vision of this clubs future!     Mark

Erewash Valley – ‘a true members course in tip top condition’

You will find some butterflies but then again you’re more likely to find yourself on the 18th hole named after the original farm (Willow) that this course was built on-in 1905.

The extensive clubhouse incorporates the original Willow Brook Farm and as with many areas of British countryside, over the years was carved up to make way for transportation links with either canal, steam or soon to come – high speed train, road or motorway.  The latter was to befall Erewash Golf Course in 1965 with the construction of the M1 which deprived them of a good few acres. I looked on Google Earth and noticed  that if only the planners had followed the Roman “straight road” policy then the course would have been left untouched, and they would still have a Par 6 hole.  A sweeping curve must have been put in to avoid a house or a frog I presume! Whatever the reason the course still sits in 165 acres of well manicured parkland.

When I arrived the course was buzzing with two competitions. Club Professional Lee Sheldon set me up with cards, and off into the clubhouse I went for a coffee, where I bumped into 92 year old Syd Meehan the club’s oldest member, having his breakfast. He still plays a few holes himself  and has been a member for fifty two years.

Manager Malcolm Dinneen joined me and filled me in on the latest developments at Erewash Golf Club.  At this point my playing partner Brian arrived and joined our discussion along with Club Chairman Paul Thomas. Paul explained that  “work is now well underway to provide a new covered driving range”.  The earth movers could be seen in the distance making great progress, putting 17 acres of land  near to the clubhouse to good use and providing useful income for the club. Let’s be fair, to keep a course as well manicured as Erewash, money is required.  I would imagine that the members are delighted with this other ‘string to their bow’. Now members and visitors alike have the opportunity to get in plenty of practice before they play, or to spend a good few hours honing their skills.  “The range is expected to open in late summer 2019” Paul continued “and will enhance the already fantastic facilities for members and the surrounding community.  We will be running a variety of programmes for all ages and abilities to attract more people to the healthy and sociable sport of golf”.

Brian, my playing partner commented how easy the course was to find and that it looked in beautiful condition. I agreed wholeheartedly.  Before I get onto the golf I must say how huge the clubhouse is. Over the years it has been extended to provide one of the largest and most up to date facilities in the area which now caters for fine dining, parties of all kinds as well as corporate entertainment and business seminars.  These facilities are not just for members but available to the general public.  A visit to will give you the whole story and packages available.

Malc explained that “the thing people remember most about the golf course is the quarry holes and the manicured condition of the course”. So what can I write about? Well this course has more to offer than that because once out there you come to appreciate how well laid out it is and, whilst not being the longest course around it has features that will test all standards of golfer.  The other fact to mention is that, on a selfish note,  this round of golf was the most successful I’ve had for the past five years. I was beginning to feel that, after a spate of illness and struggling to get my swing sorted, my good golfing days were over.  As usual my putting was good and, as I’d been concentrating on chipping, that came good too. So why didn’t I challenge the course record?  It’s a mystery to me! I’ll explain.

This was the hottest day of year so far and I was smothered in sun cream to make me slip round the course with ease.  No excuse there then. Malc suggested playing off the green tees followed up by ,“Please don’t use the whites there’ll be uproar”. Funnily enough I wasn’t even dreaming of playing off the whites so all blushes saved there!!

The first two holes are lovely, straight Par 5’s, Stroke index 2 and 16 respectively. I played better on the stroke index 2 for some reason, but we both double bogeyed them. Nerves I think! Two shots dropped each there as I veered off wildly to the right with my driver, but I was relieved to miss the water fountain on the 2nd.  I loved the ‘bit of old England’ furrows on the third hole and hit a reasonable tee shot but went under the trees.  There are a fair few trees on the course to catch you napping and on the first 12 holes I seemed to have to be rescuing myself out of them albeit successfully.

Arriving at the famous quarry holes 4 & 5 we parked our buggy up and just stood to admire the way this area of land, that provided plenty of stone for the Victorians to use, has been utilised to maximum degree. I hit a beauty off the tee and, with better accuracy would have birdied it, but I was happy to come away with a par. The same went for the 5th as I hit the immaculate bunker and played out to within three foot of the hole and got a par.  Very happy now.

We crossed the 15th fairway to  the elevated tee at the Par 5, 6th.  I was gratified to see my ball ping off a tree and out onto the fairway to land just in front of the bunker.  Four shots later and my par was secured. “How was Brian doing” I hear you ask? Brain is a steadier golfer than me and far better off the tee and fairway, but I generally edge it on the green, today I seemed to be getting fairway and chipping going well. On one hole the ball sat up so well I used a three iron off the fairway and creamed it. I was hopeful of beating him for the first time in years. Mind you we do enjoying playing for the company it brings as we have loads to talk about.  A par at the 6th and I was in dreamland.

Hole 7 and I came to earth with a bang and lost control of my driving. I’m still having problems with my driver and I will tell you now that  since I got home it’s in a corner and never coming out of the bag again. Here again I hit a tree, who put them there I wonder? Inaccuracy was costing me shots and there should have been birdies in at least two holes.

We arrived at the 8th and faced an uphill shot to the green and a bogey each. The well manicured greens were playing beautifully and this suited my game. We were moving along at a nice pace playing golf, taking pictures and writing  but a two ball was catching us up so we allowed them through.

On the 12th hole which doglegs to the right, Brian hit a lovely shot which landed nicely on the 11th tee! Here we got a chance to talk to the lads from Happy Shankers doing 72 holes in a day in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. One of the lads quipped to Brian  “If you don’t get the ball onto the 12th green from here it’ll cost you a tenner”, he didn’t I hasten to add.  If you wish to help the lads, each of whom have been affected by cancer, either the loss of a family member, or seeing close friends heartbroken by the disease, just go to and then Happy Shankers and donate to their great cause.

We didn’t hold them up long as they were on their third round but  I do regret not getting a better picture of them. (Sorry guys, but I hope the plug helps).

The 14th confused me as the undulations to the right kept catching my eye and the stripes of the mower caused me to line up wrong! Well that’s my excuse and I managed to put my ball on the path to the left of the green.  A simple chip on was needed, but totally out of context for my round up to now, I chipped into the bunker then onto the green and walked away with a 5. Useless.

Downhill through the trees at the dogleg left 15th, I must declare that I was tiring and hit a lazy shot that only got down to the trees on the right, but then I managed a good shot out and bogeyed this hole. The straight 16th again proved that using an iron instead of a big driver was making a better game of it and cutting down on wayward shots. I messed up on the 17th by going out of bounds, so Brian won that one! Playing over the water at the 18th I hit it a lot further than I thought and ended up over the small path with a chip back on for another bogey. Brian went swimming! My hole.

Shaking hands we both agreed,  ‘fantastic course, pristine condition, a true members course in tip top condition with hardly any rough but plenty of trees to catch you out.

Stopping for a beer,  lasagne and salad, we soaked up the atmosphere of a 113 year old club.  Yes I did go down to Willow farm, and I did see a butterfly on the fairway,  all I’m hoping now is that when I get home  “Supper’s Ready” !

My thanks to all at Erewash Valley Golf Club for a great welcome and a fantastic course to play golf on managed by Course Manager, Darren Edwards. I will remember it as the day my golf finally came together.

Radcliffe On Trent – The Rain Finally Stops

When the invite came from Karl Adams to play at Radcliffe on Trent Golf Club we quickly packed our bags. If, like us, you’ve been heartily sick of the rain then you can bet your life the golf clubs are too. They have had a tough time with closures for waterlogging but, on the upside, the sun has started to shine, albeit haphazardly, and summer is beckoning, (or so we thought).

Entering the Pro Sop we had a warm welcome from Claire who has been at the club for 15 years now. We were kitted out with scorecards, water and the customary chocolate bar to replenish lost energy.  The sky was looking ominously dark as we eagerly set off.

All three of us  got off well at the first  with high hopes of beating the Bulwell Forest  scores. As I didn’t play there I was on a winner, anything under 100 and the honours were mine.

Lefty took the Tiger line over the trees and declared that  “he had deliberately left it short of the ditch”. He’s full of rubbish like that.  I say that with confidence because he lost his ball on the next shot.  Then I looked for the camera to take a photograph and realized I’d left it on the floor outside the clubhouse, so off Lefty drove at speed to get it.

As there was a two ball waiting to tee off after us we did the gentlemanly thing and let them through. That lull should have allowed us time to take a breather and capitalize on our good drives.  I did get to walk over the bridge though and was happy to see my ball on the fairway.

My second shot was not long enough as I under clubbed leaving me short and having to decide which club to use to get onto the green. I needn’t have bothered because again I fell short.

I’ve realized, the more I think about the shot the worse I hit the ball. But I was pleased to come off with a 5. Newby went off to the left and into the trees and then had to get back to the green and came off with a six. Three perfectly achievable pars ruined. That’s golf for you.

The second hole affords a gently sloping downhill shot. We all felt that the bunkers were incredibly well placed to catch the mid handicapper. It’s a dog-leg right. Watch out for the right bunker as it’s a  beast to get out of. I thankfully landed my third shot short and managed to chip within three yards of the hole. I needed a miracle to avoid a 6 but I didn’t get one. Two putts and I came off with a six.  The greens were playing magnificently and  pretty quick. It’s a struggle to get used to them after a winter of soggy greens. Your game has to change.

On the Third, a dog-leg right, Lefty parred it. A great tee shot that was long and true just bisected the fairway giving  him a  super approach shot  to the green with a 9 iron, and two putts saw him dancing with joy. He should have birdied this one after such a good start.

The 4th. This is a long par 4 at 437 yards and Newby got the second of his three pars.  At stroke index 3 this is a tough hole and I scraped a five, which was hugely disappointing . I’d read up on the holes on the web site and it said this about this long par 4,  “Don’t go left, trees await” I should have listened!

The  5th hole. I really don’t want to write about this one. I’m sure it’s a good hole. Aren’t the trees nice at this time of year?

6th. Newby thought he had nailed it but the green narrowed alarmingly and his shot went slightly left which left him a nasty downhill chip from out of the rough. The chip didn’t go as planned and the ball refused to get up to the green in sufficient distance to get another par. Lefty went into the bunker. In fact I’m sure he was the only player to do so which is unusual because we all catch one normally.

By the 7th hole the rain had decided to get a bit heavier and to be honest it spoilt what was a most enjoyable round so far, but we have to bear with that in England, it makes the game even more difficult but hones your skills.

The greens slowed a little at this point but I found that my putting was getting better as I could punch them a little harder to get up close and even into the hole.

Before we played the 8th we were caught up by a couple of  friendly local lads (pictured) who were as wet as us.

The 8th is 192 yard par 3. The bunkers are not as near the green as you think. You need a good 170 yard carry just to get past the middle bunker. I landed a yard short leaving me to pitch onto the green. I scuffed it and ruined my chance of a wet birdie. Newby took a 5 iron and wellied it but only made the front of the green. Lefty went into the left bunker and said he did a 4.  We are convinced that his score converter is rigged similar to the euro against the pound and at the minute his currency is strong against the par.

The 9th. We were quite soaked by now and the shots were not impressive as I ended in the rough on the right and seemed to stay there for the next three shots feeling soaking wet. Just in the distance we could see the clubhouse and a pint of Speckled Hen was calling out to me, so we decided that we would follow the procession to the clubhouse and come back to fight the back nine another day.  The greens really held up well to say that the rain came down pretty heavy and the course was still good underfoot. A real treat to play.

While we were ordering drinks and perusing the menu Phil, complete in cooking gear,  said that the steak pies were good. To prove the point may I direct you to the picture of the magnificent steak pie, presented to us elegantly by Louise, which we devoured along with chips and peas. Our efforts were so appreciated by the members that one came across to congratulated us for finishing it. We were convinced it was a ‘pie for four’ but nevertheless  in true Desparate Dan style and not wanting to appear rude we ate it all.

Phil and Louise really looked after us well in the clubhouse and we appreciated the time they gave us even though they were obviously busy.  Our thanks to all at Radcliffe on Trent GC for a super day.  We intend to come back on a sunny summers day to play the back nine and have another super steak pie.

PS:  Just to clarify things, we were playing off yellows. In fact the yellows are only 174 yards shorter than the white. ‘We should play off whites”  I said, but no one listened. Not that I would play any better, but I like the elongated views of holes.

Bulwell Forest – A Course For All Seasons

What a winter we have had it just does not want to go away, never mind using a golf buggy on the course, a boat would have been more appropriate to get around! There is only a hand full of local courses that can take such a battering from the awful weather we’ve had, and one of these is Bulwell Forest, built on sand stone this course drains really well and thank goodness for that because at the time of writing this I still had not swung a club in 2018!

Let’s get to the point, this course is a lot better than you may first imagine, on first impressions you might think it’s not in the best position against a ring road and a large housing-estate, but you would be wrong to think that because this is the original Nottingham Club and I just love the layout. You have some majestic tee shots and some cracking par 3s to test the very best golfer, theses vary from 93yards to 200 yards.

The Club house benefitted from a refurbishment a few years ago, and they serve a good breakfast and nice pint too. The pro shop will keep you stocked up on balls, chocolate bars and water. This is a very friendly club and relaxed, just the type of course to invite your mates to, especially those that haven’t played in a while. So instead of a hole by hole review, I’ll introduce you to some that I think you’ll enjoy.

You will find there is no par 5 on the front for men and just one for the ladies. The first few holes 1-3, are the ones to help you get warmed up, they’re quite forgiving and you stand a good chance of getting a par on at least one of these. Hole 4 is 255 yards and a par 4. Even though it’s stoke index 16, if you have a slight slice or draw from your tee shot it will leave you a lot to do. Why? Because down the right is out of bounds and down the left are dense trees. To make this a little bit more difficult there are a couple of trees in about 100 yards blocking your straight shot to the green, forcing you to go left.

Put it this way – I walked off with a 7 and Newby a 5 – it could have been a lot worse. Moving on to hole 7, this is a very short par 3, 93 yards uphill. Directly behind the back of the green is a large netting to stop you hitting it onto the road. I always struggle with really short holes, I’m either hitting it way too far or way too short! Newby opted for a 9 iron and a gentle swing which looked like it hit the green. I opted for the same and it looked like mine did also. When we got up there Newby had managed to find a hole in the net! I managed just to cling on and a gentle tap with the sand wedge left me an easy putt for a par. Basically a pitching wedge would suffice. This is the start of 2 of my favourite holes, the 8th a 325 par 4, this is what I call a driving hole. An elevated tee looking down onto a sweeping fairway which goes to the right. For you right handers it should be an easy shot, but for us ‘lefty’s’ with a bit of a slice it could end up on the next fairway. In true Lefty style this is exactly what I did. I had to play my second shot from the 12th fairway. The green on the eighth is massive, so fortunately for me my second shot landed on the green but still left me a 40-foot putt. Now we start to climb back up – the 9th, 311 yards par 4 / index 2. Don’t get caught out on this hole like I did, it’s all about your second shot. It looks, from standing on the fairway, that the green is closer than it is, when in fact it is a lot further back, on a hill. So, do not under club! If I had known this I probably would have got a par.

The back 9 really vary from hole to hole. A good example of this is the 10th, which is a blind uphill tee shot with your second shot having to go over a big dip and hit an elevated green. You have to be accurate and hit it with a lot of power. Not many will walk away with a par on this one. As you get to the 15th the course opens up again giving you the opportunity to hit big long drives which are very enjoyable to play.

The 17th is another cracking par 3, it’s a good old way at 200 yards again so you need to crank up the power. The course finishes with a gentle par 4 winding its way back to the club house.

Over all I like Bulwell Forest, it’s a course I could quite happily play every week, the green keepers do a cracking job of keeping it in great condition despite the locals (some of whom don’t seem to appreciate what a lovely oasis of green this is!) in fact when you play here you get the sense that this is like the start of Hollinwell in some places. If you were looking to become a member of a club then you’re going to be hard set to find a friendlier place and this course offers real value for money.

Rufford Park – Clear and Beautiful

When County Golfer was launched in 1999 we visited Rufford Park Golf and Country Club and played the course on a sunny summers day. Since then the course and facilities have just grown and improved tremendously.  Sadly my golf hasn’t matched that progress.  A nine on the first hole destroyed my confidence immediately. I shouldn’t have gone off the white tees. It could have been an 8. Stalwarts that we are I battled on and started to put my game together, eventually producing some good shots. 

As is normal when I play with my good friend Brian, who I hadn’t seen for ages, we talk a lot and take in the views around us, catch up on health and family issues,  put pen to paper on the immediate  impressions of the course and then start concentrating on the game by about the third hole.

That is the problem when writing a report, the golf suffers. However I can’t blame my nine at the first on any of that, it was pure bad shots that took me way off, right into the trees and long rough. I would have got out better if the rough wasn’t so long but I would be a hypocrite if I moaned about it as I’m an advocate of leaving the rough, rough. What could be nicer than long wispy  grass blowing in the breeze? So it’s over to me to accept blame.

Arriving at Rufford park always makes me think of hiring a log cabin by a lake somewhere in Scotland, such is the design of the clubhouse, blending gently into the surrounding countryside. Over the years extensions have been sympathetically added to keep up with the demands of the modern day golfer even including a meeting room that can  be hired for business meetings. The smart new changing rooms nestled under the main function room provide all the mod cons that we expect.

Drinking coffee in the bar with Director of Golf James Thomson, he explained with great enthusiasm how the course, which he came to work at when it opened in 1994, “has a thriving full membership which has grown dramatically over the past three years”. The initiative to encourage the 27-37 yr old bracket to join has paid off dividends giving the club a ‘young’, feeling. Golf societies find Rufford an ideal place to book for a great day out too. Members like to see their club progress and that has constantly happened. We could see, as we played, that work on improvements was taking place without disrupting the flow of golfers. We had a cheery wave from one of the greenkeepers as he saw Brian sink a long put. Why didn’t he wait to see mine?  It was far better!

The trees that were planted back in 1994, on a pretty bare landscape, are now mature and have, in some cases needed thinning out, thereby allowing the course to get light and air plus opening up vistas of the surrounding countryside. There are great views of Rufford Abbey from most parts of the course. I especially loved the view from the fourth tee.   However we don’t go to a golf club to admire the views do we? Er, I do.  It’s part and parcel of the day for me. James accompanied us to the tee giving us a brief overview and then said “I’ll leave you guys to tee off in peace” that’s nice because I hate being watched as I mess up on the first. Mind you he did shout and tell Brian where his ball had landed. So,he was watching after all. Part of the fun of golf isn’t it?

Teeing off at the first we saw plenty of wildlife milling around on the dipping fairway below. Why aren’t they over there by the lake I thought.  After my first shot I bet they wished they had been. When James explained the first hole I got the impression that he thought we would make it to the bunkers with our first shot but that didn’t happen. I leave hitting it that far to him. You can’t show off too soon I feel so I contented myself in going off to the right into the trees. The last time I played I went left so next time it will be down the middle. Not wanting to show me up Brian carded a 6. He played his usual steady game no rushing, plenty of club choice and shot thought. We weren’t in a comp though just out to enjoy the course which was good because no one was following us.

The greens at Rufford were in superb condition showing that the new irrigation system is paying dividends, especially since we have had a dry spell. The “rain in the past week was much needed for the fairways” James said. Whatever the new Head Greenkeeper, Paul Hill, is doing we approve heartily as the greens are as true as you can get. The first green was pretty tricky as I went past the flag by 20 feet and had to putt back down the slight slope without going past the flag. Brian was onto the back of the green for 3 but over-hit his putt which rolled down the slope. It cost him dearly, hence the 7.  Having had a disastrous start the “Two Putt Plant’ came into force narrowly avoiding double figures. Curse that wispy grass!

Emerging through the trees we came to the 2nd a lovely 491 yard Par 5 (off yellows) gives you another chance to open your shoulders getting to the dogleg right. Having been disappointed with my first tee shot I got the driver out – nothing to lose now. I’ve avoided using this club as I have felt out of control with it recently settling for steady irons. Obviously that didn’t work on the first so why not swap? I actually hit it well. Why is golf so fickle? I caught the ball well the third but swung to the left “head up” said Brian. I ignored that because annoyingly I knew it,  My second shot just had the ball teetering  on the edge of the bunker up the slope. Brian’s drive had crossed the road. Don’t you just hate that?!  The green here was again tricky but true. My ball ran on too far but at least I could get a chip back and landed with three feet off the hole. No par again on this stroke index 18 but at least I was playing much better.

The 4th gives knock out views over to Rufford Abbey, we stood ages taking it all in, the peace and quiet and the fact we had no pressures. We both got bogeys here and I was so relieved to see my putt go in. The 5th looks a simple par 3 but we both made hard work of it making recovery shots necessary and carding a bogey. The problem was the trees on the right. Brian hit the nearest but then played a cracking shot through the trees onto the green.  I hit the tree furthest away and had to play over the bunker onto the green. I slipped slightly over the edge but a chip to within three feet of the hole saw me safe and in. At 6 the views came in again. Can’t beat it. A straight drive is required and as usual Brian just kept plugging away at driving straight. My score card says 5 but I must admit I can’t quite see how I did it, but I must have, because Brian said “your honours here mate” as we approached the 7th tee.

Holes 7 and 8 have changed for the better improving the flow of golf. We can now walk to each tee without having to backtrack or wait for other golfers to tee off. The new elevated tee on the 8th is brilliant, however, I read the sign wrong and aimed  my drive to the right of the bunker thinking the hole was over there. I’m still convinced the map on the tee shows a straight hole  and not a dogleg left. I won’t be shifted on that one no matter what I’m told!! That’s my excuse for a 6 and I’m sticking to it.


I was now getting the feel of my 4 and 5  irons and hitting well off the smooth fairways. I wasn’t going massive distances but at least they were safe. A 7 iron out of the bunker here saw me with a safe approach to the green and a nice tidy 5. We had played so far in the dry but the clouds gathered again as we teed off on the 9th.  Brian’s second shot saw him facing downhill into the valley below, needing to play down and then up onto the green I managed to get to the very left edge narrowly avoiding the bunker by a yard. I putted up to the hole and then sunk it for a 5. I was so happy with the last 4 holes after such a poor start and average middle bit.

We decided at this point to stop at the clubhouse for lunch a hearty portion of steak and ale pie with chunky chips.  They’re famous for their food here and at two for a tenner you just can’t go wrong.  It’s worth more. I know golfers will hate me for saying that but when was the last time you went to a restaurant  and got such a plateful of good food for a fiver. It beats me why golfers complain. The  staff make it a treat to be there too. Believe it or not there are some clubhouses where  the staff are pretty miserable  but not here it’s a really friendly place.

At this point the skies opened and it chucked it down and stayed that way for the rest of the day so sadly it was the end of our round as we didn’t want to get the camera wet!! We are invited back anytime to do holes 10-18 and will definitely take James up on that offer. Note: In this article I’ve intentionally avoided any reference to Robin Hood. Things like ‘my shot went like an arrow’,  ‘the view made me quiver ‘ ‘or jokes like ‘is there a Friar in the Abbey’. No it’s in the kitchen.’ ‘We tucked into our lunch’. They would just be stupid.  So I have contented myself knowing that I have avoided sinking so low. I couldn’t avoid using the word ‘green’ though!

Our thanks for all at Rufford for a great day. GP and BW

Newark – A super course for any ability

On Friday 7th July, Jean, my mum and I packed up the car and headed off to Newark Golf Club. We had looked on the sat nav and it had offered us various routes ranging from 38-46 miles. If you are travelling a far distance, do allow plenty of time as it is a bit of an awkward drive. I listened to the sat nav going and to Jean and mum’s better judgement on the way home!

On arriving at the club, I went to the professional’s shop where I met Chris and Simon. We were made to feel very welcome and after buying some sandwiches from the clubhouse to take out onto the course with us, we were on our way.The first hole was a tough starting hole from the reds playing 397 yards in length, stroke index 5, par 4. Although it seemed fairly straight forward in terms of direction, it was heavily tree lined and quite narrow, immediately giving us a feel for what was in store for us.

Jean and mum hit great drives straight down the middle of the fairway so we were nicely away. I was official flag holder/note taker for the day, as I was still unable to play after recent shoulder surgery.The first nine holes were extremely pleasant and considering it was quite a busy morning out on the course, we got round the front 9 holes in just over an hour and a half, which I thought was good going.

The tenth hole was a short par 4, 311 yards in length however, you had to be accurate and favour the right side of the fairway off the tee due to a well placed water hazard on the left side. Again Jean and mum hit excellent drives. It was all becoming quite boring watching them hit every fairway off the tee.


After playing the 11th hole, we had the pleasure of meeting one of the green staff, Nigel Walker, who was very friendly and I even got to sit on his mower! There were no what I would call “signature holes” however, there was a nice loop of three holes on the back nine, from 12 to 14, all par 4’s and again all requiring well placed tee shots. The 14th hole was a short par 4, dog-leg to the left, again requiring strategic placing off the tee. If you didn’t hit it far enough down the fairway, you would be blocked out by a large tree on the left hand side and if you hit it too far, you would run out of fairway. Again, the ladies made it look very easy with well positioned tee shots.

Overall, the course was a flat, mixed parkland/heathland, in excellent condition and the greens seemed to roll very true. Some entries to the greens were tight with well placed bunkers. I would imagine that if you were wayward off the tee, the course would play very differently indeed and definitely not as forgiving, as every hole was tree lined. It is a super course for any ability and certainly a fair test of golf. It was very hard to find any faults.

All in all, we had a thoroughly enjoyable round and I was lucky to be able to watch Jean and mum play some consistent and excellent golf. I found it a pleasure to walk round and actually quite relaxing, which may not have been the case if I had been hunting for some of my own errant tee shots in the trees.

Thank you Newark Golf Club for a lovely day out!

Oakmere – Constant Improvement

GP. From the outside Oakmere Park seems to have it all. A splendid countryside location with a heathland landscape and sandy base, 27 holes and 36 tees of golf, driving range, excellent practice facilities and FootGolf too, all complimented by modern styled and extensive 19th hole charms. But no, being this good clearly isn’t enough, the staff, committee and members alike have aspirations to raise the bar much higher and the club are investing a cool £1million to do just that.

So, what does the future hold at Oakmere Golf Club?

Let Daryl explain…

DSJJ. There are 5 phases for the future plans of Oakmere.
Phase 1 is to install the latest ‘state of the art’ Toro irrigation system to cover all 36 holes of golf, practise facilities and some fairways.
Phase 2 is to re-landscape all of the Admirals course holes to become a Mackenzie & style/design golf course with new bunkering and green surrounds.
Phase 3 is to change the layout, length and configuration of the Commanders Course to make it a shorter easier test of golf.
Phase 4 is to build 4 new holes on the Admirals Course and extend 4 others.
Phase 5 is to build a 9 Hole par 3 academy course.

Phase one was completed last year. Phase 2 has seen 12 of the 18 holes greens, surrounds and fairway bunkers completed over the last 3 winters. 2 Holes of Phase 4 have also already been built and will come in to play next year, and  the other 2 are planned to be done next winter.

The idea put forward to the club by Golf course Architects Mackenzie and Ebert was to present a rugged inland links look to the Admirals layout. In doing so, natural fescue grasses will be encouraged to flourish and although this will all take time, the finished results will be something else. Mackenzie & Ebert are best known for their work in re-designing Turnberry, Royal Troon and Port Rush among many other famous locations across the world.

The final changes to The Admirals Course are due for completion in 2018. This will keep Championship length and standard but will level out the two nines a little more than they currently sit and also take away a pair of uphill par threes. No effect to current playing conditions and all 18 holes have remained open as these changes take place.

As for The Commanders Course, Mackenzie and Ebert made the point in their survey that it should be made significantly easier to play, becoming the intermediate course, a friendlier examination for the greater good of Oakmere Park. Plus the extra space created by the changes will be used for the starter course, a brand new par 3 layout, sitting in close proximity to the clubhouse. This new layout has been completed and has been very well received by the members with 2 new excellent finishing holes to the round.

This would result in Oakmere Park being able to provide a complete pathway into the game, from range and putting green to the Par 3, to the development of a full game on The Commanders and then on to The Admirals. A total commitment from the club to encourage the local population to get into golf, and in doing so, securing the club a bright long-term future.

Not forgetting also that the improvement in quality and looks once complete will give Oakmere Park the tempting possibility of competing on a level playing field with the traditionally higher ranked Notts heathland trio just across the way.

GP Not just content in upgrading both courses but in the space created by altering the Commanders layout they have been able to add a further 9 FootGolf holes which has now made Oakmere the only 18 Hole FootGolf facility in the county and one of the only dedicated FootGolf courses (not part of a golf course) in the Midlands. This new sport hasn’t wained in popularity and has not only brought new clients and revenue stream to the complex but they are also hosting the Notts Open on Sunday 13th August. The FootGolf facility has brought a new wave of youngsters to Oakmere who not only enjoy FootGolf but have become involved in taking golf lessons on the range and playing golf. These youngsters would probably never have visited a golf course previously but now these barriers have been taken away they’ve embraced golf as well.

So, how does the course play? On the following pages Fame Tait gives County Golfer her report by playing nine holes of the Admiral and Commanders Courses on the same day.

Mapperley Golf Club

I was quite intrigued by the course badge – a cow! However, it soon became clear why this was chosen because the clubs history records that cattle used to graze on the course.  Fences were immediately erected to protect the 9 greens.  The club badge now proudly sits on all Mapperley’s correspondence as a reminder of its humble and most fascinating  beginnings.

Wind forward to1983 and a new 18 hole Golf Course was opened by Neil MacFarlane MP, Minister for Sport. The design of the rolling parkland course, with stunning views from the clubhouse of Gedling Country Park and all the way across to the Vale of Belvoir, was by golf pro’ John Mason.

Since that time, there has been a continual investment programme, involving improvements to both the Clubhouse and the Golf Course.


I last played this course in 2006, and other than remembering that I liked the course, I couldn’t actually remember much about it, but then again I struggle to remember what I had for breakfast today, so there’s no real surprise there then! This meant that I was effectively playing, for me, a new course.

My first thoughts on arriving were “why on earth is the car parked packed at 10am on a Wednesday?” Simple answer, its seniors morning, and they get an increasable amount of support for it. The added advantage this made, was that the if we got our act together, got out there quickly and kept up with the last group, the half way house would be open when we got there. Now that’s motivation for you! Of course keeping up with a group of seniors is practically impossible, as its a known fact that a senior player can complete 18 holes on any golf course in under 2 and a half hour with considerable ease! But we would give it our best shot all the same.


The round didn’t start all that well, the tee shots blind over a hill and down to the green, with the fairway sloping left to right, and the ideal tee shot would have been a high line, then letting it run down to the right. The conditions were wet when we played which slowed the ball down on the fairways, but on a dry summers day you’d easily get an extra 40+ yards on your drive on this hole.

With the hilly nature of the course, this is the case for a lot of the holes. A dry hot summers and you could easily knock a handful of shots off your score. Today was not however one of those days, as I managed to add handfuls of shot through bad driving and poor irons.

This was heavily confounded by my 2 playing partners, Spencer and his wife Heidi, who had both made steady starts, being members at Sickleholme had hardened then to the conditions. What felt like hills to me were just small undulations to them and the driving rain that hit us on the last few holes was just a bit of moister!


John’s back to back birdies on the 3rd and 4th put him a good mood for the round and was playing some great golf that 3 birdies for the round. Whilst Heidi was hitting straight and steady and was racking up a decent round for herself.

At 5719yards the course isn’t the longest around, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in character. Its a tight course, with most fairways lined with mature tall trees, If you missed the fairway by a little bit you’re in trouble but you’ll find it. If you miss it by quite a way, its gone!

I do love a course that undulates and rolls, it makes tee shots far more interesting, the views better and adds a whole new element to playing. This course gives you all that. Despite being close to the centre of Nottingham most of the time you had no idea, the thick mature trees cut out the sight and sounds of the city really well.

Back at the club house there’s a real homely feel to it, the staff  at the bar are really welcoming, the food is good and really reasonably priced. Seb took care of us really well when we were there (Hope you eventually got your cup of tea matey 🙂  I’d recommend the chilli!

Thanks to John Newman in the Pro shop for looking after us as well.