Teeing off at Trent Lock Golf Club was quite an experience. I made sure my stance was correct, I had the right club, there was a ball at my feet and for once never took my eyes off it. Everything was right for the perfect tee off. Imagine my horror as the ball bounced off a cannon, straight into Captain Jack Sparrow and landed back at my feet. Aha the curse of the Black Pearl.
When I had arrived at Trent Lock Golf Club the music from Pirates of the Carribean drifted across towards me. It’s a pity the film wasn’t called “Bandits of the Carribean” I thought as we unloaded our clubs. It would have been more fitting. The preceding few frosty days had turned into an absolute beauty for us with the temperature hitting a dizzy 8 degrees and the sun shining brightly. I nearly had to remove a layer of clothing! I’m not sure how you folk go on playing golf during winter but I hate being cluttered with clothing. So, I’m relieved when at this time of year we get a better climate.
The entrance to the clubhouse at Trent Lock is most impressive, in fact the whole setup is pretty swish. It’s open, light and airy with loads of space. The price for food is very competitive too. We decided to await food until after our round. How controversial is that after complaining last year that I couldn’t get a bacon bap before I teed off. We golfer’s are a fickle bunch.
We were to be accompanied on our round by greenkeeper Luke Johnson, who was being paid to play with us. It’s a hard life isn’t it? We were grateful for his company though as without him we would have got ourselves pretty lost. A course planner would have helped but then again Lefty, after requesting one from Secretary Ian Cooper, promptly left it in his boot whilst changing into his golf shoes.
Chatting to Secretary Ian Cooper he explained that they were on temporary greens that day, but we were privileged to go on the proper ones as we were writing about the course. (Visitors keeping the members off the greens Grrrrrr!) Being situated near the River Trent, the name of the club gives it away. A few courses near here suffer when the winters are wet, and this winter has been a pretty wet one. However, we were happy to find that throughout our round the ground was nice and firm with the greens speeding up as the day progressed and the sun shone. We could see that the water levels in the ponds and ditches was reasonably high especially at the 18th but nothing to worry us. It’s nice when people drain the course before we arrive!
We thoroughly enjoyed playing here, even though our standard of golf certainly showed up the poor amount of outings over the winter. The beauty of it was, that we weren’t under any pressure to perform (thankfully) and could just enjoy the course for what it was and observe the changes that have, and are being made. Ian pointed out the changes to the 1st hole with the green being brought back10 yards, bringing 2 tiers into play. On the right, posh new fencing (“It cost a fortune” said proprietor Edward McCausland “but it’s of the highest quality”) has gone up to stop the driving range balls coming onto the course. Starting off with a Par 5 stroke index 10 is great I always feel, as there’s time to settle down. At 533 yards it is straight and true with trees to the left and water to the right and should provide a steady par to get you off to a good start. However this course comes with a sting in the tail as the 18th is a 147 yard Par 3 purely over water, no excuses, your 1st shot has to be spot on, which mine wasn’t, with 3 off the tee to my shame. The 1st shot was a swan getter! I missed those too.
The 2nd hole was a dogleg right but, is now a dogleg left which didn’t cheer Lefty up as he observed all the OOB signs down the left of the fairway. Luke just did what he did all the round and played a good tee shot and bent it left and safely onto the fairway. How annoying it must be to play like that! It’s a Par 4 but you can play it as Par 5! Well there are bunkers to hold you up. But this is a great addition to the course and makes it more of a thinking and challenging hole. I like the fact that changes are constant on golf courses. It makes each round more interesting.
The bunkers at Trent Lock are there to protect the green but they aren’t at the front they are either side. If you are a straight hitter you’re okay here. Be wayward and you’re in trouble big time. To say how much rain we’ve had and how high the water table is, the bunkers were extremely well to play out of and I should know I went in a few. The sand, specially imported from Cheshire, doesn’t compact as much as some, making it fine and not clingy, so that your club moves through it with ease. See, I told you I’d been in some, well most.
Moving onto holes 3 to 9 we were mindful that the mowers hadn’t been out for a day or so to do the rough, but even so this made playing careful golf essential. The rough actually wasn’t too long and getting out was a case of right club’ right swing. It took me a while to sort that out as I got snagged a few times. More of a chop than a swing was needed. That’s a new golf term for me by the way ‘chop shot’. Looking at the scorecard after 9 holes the course record was very much intact!
Hole 3, I got a Par. In fact I did well on all the par 3’s except 18th, underlying the fact that I must improve my long game. I was resisting using my driver but decided to give it a try on a couple of holes which caused mirth and merriment for Luke and Lefty.
Hole 9 a very short Par 3 (100 yards) over water, was a hole too short for Lefty as he went into the water twice.
I went one better as the water came into play on the 10th. I made all the right approach shots and ended up needing a chip across the water onto the green. Lining my shot up, I was horrified to see it hit the water 10 yards from where I stood. I spun round in disgust to look at Lefty who was taking photographs only to hear cries from Luke who was near the green. Lefty was laughing too. Apparently it’s the best shot Luke has seen! My ball did hit the water, but bounced off and hit the bank, shot onto the green and hit the lip of the hole and stopped six inches away from it. Definite gimme that one, and that’s why I play golf, for the sheer surprise. As the water meanders through the course, the trains trundle along the bridge, the swans waddle around and cyclist go along the footpath to the right of the course, it makes for a very picturesque and interesting days golf. The two par 4 14th on the back 9 take you on a collision course with disaster. Get over the water, off the tee and you are away. Miss and it’s trouble. On the 17th, which again was a hole I was playing well, until I hit the only bunker that had been left in after they had moved the green to make it a dogleg left! Brilliant. You either want to play with me or you don’t as there’s two aspects to my game, entertainment and frustration. I was going to say it’s a bit like watching Forest but that may make coming back into Nottinghamshire tricky. Just look at the trouble Robin Hood had.
Bidding farewell to Luke who had endured the longest round of his life as we played, talked, took photographs and generally had a relaxing day with no one following us we headed for the clubhouse and food. As I mentioned, the food is well priced which would suit most golfers. We managed a brief chat to proprietor Eddie who is very keen to keep up the progress and changes at Trent Lock. Trent Lock has definitely matured as a course and our impression of the greens, fairways and clubhouse make it a course we would love to play again come the summer months. I get the feeling that it becomes such a different course when, as most courses do, you can get more run on the fairways, giving you the chance of a lower score.
Our thanks to Eddie, Ian and Luke for a great days golf.