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.