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