Every time people asked me “where are you playing next and I say Longcliffe Golf Course” the reply was always the same “that’s a beautiful course, you’ll enjoy that”, so as you can expect I got quite excited about playing it.
Longcliffe is a well-established members course, what you would call a traditional golf club in the fullest sense. To get to Longcliffe is just a short journey south bound on the M1 to junction 23, it took no time at all to get there from Alfreton in Derbyshire, just about 25 min.
The Course itself is situated within Charnwood Forest in Loughborough it’s a par 72 6625 yards off the whites and 6455 off the yellows, and for the ladies it’s a par 71, 5461 yards. My playing partner for the day was Newby who agreed with me that Longcliffe have one of the most visually scenic 1st teeing areas and an almost ‘Augusta’ feel about it with rhododendron’s to the right of the teeing area, this twinned with the sunniest day of the year so far gave us the feel that we were about to play somewhere special.
The shorts were on and Newby was wearing shades to protect him from the suns ray bouncing off my legs as I stepped up to tee off, but no need for a driver as the first is a 164 yard par 3 up hill shot, now to my knowledge there are not many courses that start with a par 3 in our area so this was new to me. Will my 6 irons be as wayward as my driver usually is for the first shot of the day? No it was not, I struck it true and just a bit right of the green, a chip on and one put would see a par.
Just one problem with summer greens as most of you know, all winter we golfers have been squelching around, well I have every time I’ve played but now the greens have dried out and at Longcliffe they were like billiard tables, so after the 3 putt walk of shame what should have been a par turned into a 5!!
The general layout of the course winds its way up Charwood Forest Hill then loops back down to the clubhouse, I had been told before I played that the par 4s are not the longest. For example, the 6th is only 265 yards long but what you find is that most of them are dog legs right or left, also the tree placements have been well thought out making some of the fairways narrow so accuracy off the tee is vital. Unfortunately teeing off with my drive is not my strong point as every now and again I develop a wicked slice which on this course will punish you with a lost ball.
A good drive will get you a shot at the green but be careful as a ditch cuts across the fairway just before the green. Despite my wayward tee shot I managed a bogie, although what you do find about Longcliffe is that the hazards are fair, for example I had to play my second out of the rough which is long fine grass, allowing me to find my ball but still giving me a penalty for going into it. This was not like some courses I have played where your ball just trickles off the fairway into thick grass never to be seen again!
Newby and I were really enjoying ourselves; the layout of the course was throwing all sorts of challenges for us, and the condition of the course was the best I have played this year. Newby was having a great time playing very well; I was getting punished for my bad tee shots. Someone did tell me that on this course sometimes it’s better to tee off with an iron, I should have heeded this council, but you know me by now, I’m not one to give up so easily and I don’t listen to good counsel from other golfers.
Let me bring you to a little beauty of a hole the 5 a 135 yard par 3, it’s a medium par 3 with a tee shot to an elevated green guarded by bunkers at the front and a steep bank at the back. It was quite a joy to tee off, we both hit the green but were above the hole, which is not such a good position as it slopes away from you and on greens like these you only need a gentle tap. I again had to do the 3 putt walk of shame but at least it didn’t roll off back down the hill.
You now find you’re making your way up to the top of the hill and by the time you stand on the 8th you have a great tee shot back down with views over Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It’s one of the holes you could tee off time and again just for the enjoyment of it. It’s the longest hole on the course at 559yards. Big hitters can reach the green in 2 but, and there is always a but, you have to navigate a green guarded by a magnificent oak tree, across ditch and mound to the left and right. We both hit big drives so the green was reachable. I don’t have a fairway wood in my bag and this is exactly what you need, so I hit a 3 iron as sweet as a nut but could not carry the ditch, Newby on the other hand does have a fairway wood and landed his ball on the green. Swine!!
You think that now you have got to the bottom of the hill you would wind your way back to the club house on the flat, not a chance, it’s time for the 9th stroke index 1 a 411 yard par 4 all up hill! Again a good drive is needed and you must get a good shot away for any chance of a par, even then you have a large mound across the fairway waiting to catch your second shot. Basically you need to pull out two of your best shots to even consider reaching the green, which by the way has two bunkers to the front so not even a’ bump and roll’ will do. I must admit this hole chewed me up and spat me out sending me away with a spanked bottom, well that’s how I felt after finally walking off the green with a 5…6…7 Ouch!
I was told before I came to Longcliffe how much I would enjoy it, in fact most golfers I have talked to hold Longcliffe in high esteem, and I can see why, it’s a well established course that offers a fair challenge, it can be a real beast sometimes and punish you for a bad tee shot but on the other hand reward you when you play a good one. I must have gone through the entire arsenal in my bag.
This is a proper golf course that will keep you coming back for more, it’s a beautiful beast, a little slice of Augusta right on our doorstep.
Your first impressions is that it’s a long established well run golf club, from the Local Professional to the Secretary to The Green Staff, everyone is polite, professional and clearly knows what they’re doing.
Sometimes people ‘bigging’ up a course do it no favours. You arrive with high expectations and when it achieves them you go away just agreeing, if you were to arrive here with no expectation you’d definitely walk away very impressed.
It’s a proper members Midlands course, rolling hills, beautiful greenery with a hint of Augusta about it. For me the greens were as the best I’ve played on for years, fast enough to keep them interesting, but absolutely immaculate giving a beautiful roll. It’s not often you knock your first 2 10 foot putts on the practice green right in the middle of the cup.
The rough was perfect too, if you landed in it, it inhibited your swing and made you pay for your wayward shot, but you did find your ball (unless you missed by miles obviously). There’s nothing more annoying as an amateur, than playing a shot that’s only slightly off line and loosing your ball. The rough should make life tough, not impossible, and that’s exactly what this course does.