Playing an ex Ryder course is always bound to bring a little extra excitement to a game of golf. Lindrick hosted the Ryder cup in 1957 and so became, if my maths are correct, one of only 18 clubs in Britain to host this prestigious event. If I’m wrong I can only be out by a club or two, which is similar to getting my distances right whilst on the course too!
From start to finish our experience at Lindrick deserves the highest merit. John the professional is probably the most personable pro that you could meet, welcoming and open in his style. And that ran through to Julian Maturi, Paula King (Secretary) and Steven Gee (Greens Chairman) and the bar staff. We couldn’t have wished for a better day out. But did our golf match up to that start? To get any ambiguity out of the way I will say no now! Make no mistake about it this is one tough and enjoyable course.
We had the opportunity to sit and relax before the game with Julian, and then after the game with Steve, each time with a beer in hand. That was probably my mistake as I’m sure it affected my game! When we last visited in 2011 we were ushered into a back room to have our drinks as the main clubhouse couldn’t be entered by us lesser souls! Now with the changing of the tide in golf, the clubhouse has been split in two and we could sit looking out at the ninth green in total comfort on the new Chesterfield settees. We even strayed off the mat to buy drinks (an in-house joke there).
Julian and Steven both explained how much development is taking place, and that they are two years into a five year plan with award winning course architect Ken Moodie (Creative Golf Design). Dropping out of the worlds top 100 golf courses is bound to hurt, but now is a very exciting time, as after thirty years of only a little investment here and there, large investment and development is taking place which can only make the members happy and bring to them a course that remains challenging and picturesque, whilst it still retain it’s natural appeal. There aren’t many courses around that can boast “we don’t play off mats in winter, neither do we have temporary greens and, based mostly on limestone, it drains really well”. Put all that together with gorse and wild flowers now popping through after developments have reawakened them, you can’t wish for more.
The rough is a bit of a devil though! Whilst most courses have decided to speed up the game by making the rough easy to play out of, thereby getting more people on the course (good or bad I’ll let you judge), Lindrick still has quite a large amount of rough much to Newbys annoyance but, as I pointed out, “If you stay on the fairway it isn’t a problem”. Steve told us that as part of the current plan, this is being addressed over a period of time but in a sympathetic way which will still leave a very challenging course. It would be a shame to take away this element of the course in my view as I enjoyed waking amongst the flowers looking for our balls, due to the most wayward shots, as the excitement got to us when teeing off. Spence made one of his best tee shots at the 15th only to lose it in the ‘mine hole’ to the left. If he had only stayed straight it would just about reached the green. So a possible par was ruined.
We were supplied with two baskets of balls, course planners, scorecards, buggy and complimentary ball markers before we set out, and so the driving range was our destination. It was here that I played some of my best golf shots, nice and straight with good distance. If only it had lasted for the next four hours. Driving off from the immaculate tee on the first, down onto a sculptured fairway needed extreme concentration as you are in view of everyone who pretends not to be watching( but they are). The same is true on the 18th as people sit drinking, trying to not show they are glancing sideways at you. We all do it and pretend we don’t care.
Anyway , my shot went right and into the rough thereby losing my first ball. I’m sure that triggered the “ball reaper” into action, as we called him for the rest of the round. How come he finds them and we can’t is my question.
We had decided to play Stableford and it was neck and neck right up to the 13th, at which point Newby and Lefty edged ahead by a point, and then held onto it and extended their lead. If only Spence had gone straight on the 15th instead of into the ‘mine’! We did pull a point back on the 16th as I had my best drive, fairway, bunker shot, and two puts. That was the story of my round where I found out the work on the new bunkers was going really well. One member complained that he always went into the bunker on one hole (I can’t remember which). Basically it is the bunkers fault!
The bunkers are undergoing a makeover, being reshaped and made more visible from the tee.
I’ll tell you my favourite holes and explain why. The second is a great dogleg left. We were playing off yellows (cowards) so it was 347 yards. At stroke index 6 it was a test early on for us, so I got a 6. The course planner said to play your drive to favour the right, so I went straight. I love these golf reports that tell me that they did as requested, I’m sure they don’t’. I tried right, but went straight and that’s the truth. My ball was in front of the bunker and a 5 iron saw me just right of the fairway, which left a tricky shot to the green which I didn’t make in one but saw a nice chip and two puts give me the deserved 6. I think I peaked too soon here.
The greens were in superb condition and got a high accolade from Spence ,“The best I’ve played on this year and that includes Canton”. A real feather in Lindricks cap there and I couldn’t agree more. They were quick, accurate and beautifully manicured.
The 5th is a tough hole at 424 yards, and again I carded a 6 whilst the lads were busy doing 5’s and 4’s. The harder I tried the worse I got and followed up with three 7’s one of them on a stroke index 16 because of a lost ball. If I could blame the course I would, but I was careless off the tee and just lost confidence for a while. “I don’t think golfs my game” I said to Spence… “Have you only just realised?” He fired back.
A bit harsh there I thought but that’s golf. You have to take the honest criticism as well as the praise – if there is any!
The stroke index 1 13th is a belter of a hole. Get away well here and you’re onto a winner, if you manage to miss the bunkers nestled to the left, there is a great chance of a birdie. Lefty (who was starting to get things right with shot placement and picking up points), and Newby flew past the bunkers giving them an easy green shot whilst Spence, who was carrying me as well as his bag, went screaming off left somewhere only to lose his ball.
Four at the 18th (a Mackenzie inspired hole) was such a relief for me, Newby and Spence got Pars. It was a funny hole because Spence decided he would use his wood and landed on the bank at the back. We all missed the green completely and had to chip on from various angles. Finishing on a Par 3 is quite unusual but it’s not a hole to take for granted as club choice is vital. Spence, who is a single handicap player over-clubbed. I enjoyed that!
The club over the past few years has attracted younger members who are keen to see the course develop. We smiled when Julian told us that after ten years he was stillconsidered “new”. Steve’s been there 20 years (his dad was captain in the 60’s ), and Steve’s ‘New’ too. Golf’s a funny game. We all know our place and I know that Lindrick beat me hands down. Full marks to you.
Out thanks to John, Julian, Steven, Paula, the staff and The grim ‘sorry’ Ball reaper for a great day. If you haven’t played Lindrick in the past few years it’s a definite must for your calendar.