I played Sickleholme about 5 years ago and I must be honest I have been pining to come back, why? Well, because I don’t think it can be rivalled for the views, when, back in 1898 they decided to build a golf course here in the Peak district. It was a decision well made.
The course itself is 6,064 yards (ladies 5,399 yards) they have a large club house with very nice modern locker rooms. Hot showers and enough complementary towels to dry off the water even from Newbys hairy back!
The first tee is reached just across the road from the pro-shop where you pay your green fees and then just get in the queue to tee off.
The Course its self seems to be built on a plateau, you go up to reach it on the first and then come back down to ground level on the 18th, which leads to a ‘leaving the world behind’ experience.
As stated, the first is a 274 yrd par 4, uphill shot. Just keep your ball up the right and you should land a par.
After you have got your breath back from the climb up the first. Just take a look around at the view.
The second tee is cut back into the trees, leaving you a nervy shot. The gentlemen before us managed to land their drives just a few feet off the first green we were standing on. So I am afraid a duff tee will be punished.
The 3rd allows you to open up the shoulders, its 451 yard par 4, downhill tee shot. There are trees down the left and right side of the fairway, but they should not really trouble you unless you are me! You all know by now I like playing shots from behind trees! I would say the main hazard here is keeping the ball on the green.
This leads on to a delightful par 3 165 yard, it’s well protected by 4 well placed bunkers around the front of the green, waiting to catch a short tee shot. Eventually I got to play my shot as Newby had turned into ‘David Bailey’, inspired by the views at every turn, he kept having me stand on the tee while he took photos from different angles to try and capitulate the ‘spirit of the golf course amongst the rolling hills’. He does worry me sometimes!!
Finally I got around to tee off and landed in a bunker to the right of the green which I can tee you were in good condition for this time of the year it was actually sand not concrete. This allowed me to put my ball about 1 foot from the green and land a par! He didn’t take a photo of that.
This followed by another par on the 4th I was on a roll that was until I got to the 8th, we could not have got the hole more wrong. It’s a dog leg left, with a stone building half way up in the middle of the fairway. So we thought we would keep the ball down the left and go from the corner. This is not the shot, as we both did this, and realised there is no sight of the green, as you have a group of well placed trees which stand about 50 feet tall. The line is straight at the stone building, this gives you clear sight of the green.
We were starting to get the feel for the course and how to play it. Each hole will punish you for wrong club choice, sometimes the driver off the tee was not the right club. Except on the 9th, in Newbys words “stunning drive down hill”. He is right you would quite happily drive off the tee a few times. The difficulty on this hole is again, keeping your ball on the green you have to drop it like a ‘bomb’.
The back 9 use the lay of the land well. This is highlighted by their signature hole, 13th. You play from an elevated tee, shooting over a gorge onto a green that just invites you in, what also adds to making this 9th their stand out hole is, yes you have guessed it, the view, as you are looking down the vale of Edale.
Both Newby and myself were really enjoying ourselves. Some of the holes were a pleasure to tee off, it seemed the fairway just invited you in. This is evident on the 17th par 5 491 yards, a wide open fairway sloping downhill, a well struck drive would give you a serious chance of a birdie.
We now found ourselves standing on the 18th tee, a par 3 210 yards. It was now time to come off the plateau and drop back down to ground level. You stand on the tee looking down onto the green, which has plenty of space around it, even for a hooked or sliced shot. Again the view from the tee forces you to stand there and take it in before you tee up.
Newby used his driver on this, as it plays long, especially if the wind is up, he dinked it down, but came up short. He learned from this and decided to get more behind the drive, unfortunately for me it was going well until my ball hit a bank on the bunker, sending my ball flying up in the air to the left, landing about 6 foot from the putting green, much to the amusement of Newby. I must admit it was a bit embarrassing walking over to my ball especially as the golfers on the putting green decided they would stand and watch ‘Lefty’ try and rescue the hole. Well you know me I don’t like to disappoint the fans so I walked up and put the ball about a foot from the hole and landed a par, much to the amazement of Newby and myself.
Words like ‘gem’ , ‘stunning’ and ‘beautiful’ are over used to describe golf courses, well I think we should make a rule that only by describing Sickleholme golf course are you allowed to use them. It is the gem in Derbyshire’s crown, it has stunning views, it is a beautiful course.