When you think about joining a golf club there are a lot of variables that are thrown into the equation and a big one for me is the people that you are surrounded by. Are they friendly? And then for all of us the course must be good, and has its pedigree stood the test of time? Are they still working at it and trying to make it better and not resting on their laurels? The catering facilities are vital too. If any of the above is what you require then look no further than Worksop Golf Club.
Secretary Manager Alan Mansbridge, a very professional man, invited us along to look at the latest developments at Worksop. Coming from a business background he understands the importance of maintaining the club at a high level and pushing it forward to cope with the pressures and demands of the 21st century.Having said all that, he is a very genial man with a cracking sense of humour and friendly demeanour, and that’s something we found true of everyone at the club. If they wanted a reason to feel aloof they’ve got one, home of some of golfs greats including Lee Westwood (whose mum I bumped into) but they are n’ like that at all. As we sat around the Captains table (you don’t get that everyday!) with Alan and 2015 Captain Roy Dexter and Rob Acheson the new head greenkeeper appointed in summer 2014, we enjoyed plates of sandwiches and chips all served by pleasant staff. I sat there thinking that I could join here. Would you believe that a course of this calibre would only cost you £1000 per year, equating to £20.00 a week. As you would expect, there aren’t too many membership places available but there are just a few 7 day memberships left. I suggest getting in early if you fancy it.
The club was established in 1914 and is regarded as one of the Counties outstanding courses being set right on the edge of Sherwood Forest. It prides itself on both difficulty (6628 yards par 72 for men and 5928yards par 74 for ladies) and the quality of each hole. County Golfer has had the opportunity of playing the course a couple of times in the past I0 years and found it an exacting challenge. You always get the feel that if you play well you’ll be chosen for the Ryder Cup! And why not – others have! Worksop GC has a long tradition of providing the base for world class golfers including Lee Westwood, Mark Foster, Maurice Bembridge and David Snell. I felt that Lefty and Newby would feel at home at Worksop, being a couple of bandits(!), so it was up to them to play the course and relay their thoughts to me. Having played the course myself and knowing a little of its difficulty, plus a good read through the course plan and Worksops own thoughts on the holes, I set them a challenge beforehand whilst I looked on and took the photographs. (More of that later)
Head greenkeeper Rob, a keen golfer himself, is only 29 years of age and comes to Worksop with great ambition which is good and as we know that always needs to be tempered with experience and he is surrounded by it. I’m sure the team will flourish together and push forward to make improvements to an already great course. He will also bring the latest techniques to the club and obviously things to make the course unique.
Worksop will be the County Course in 2017 so work is afoot in preparation for this.
As a for instance, Rob has redesigned the bunkers on hole 11, and changed two bunkers into three pot bunkers on hole 14. White sand from Scotland has been introduced and is starting to settle in nicely on the two bunkers already completed, generally this can take up to a year to settle.
Competition tees have been introduced especially noticeable on the 12th. Holes 9,16 and 17 will be lengthened too. This year they are hosting the Northern Road Classic sponsored by Soper BMW. There are still a few places available for this so be quick and visit Worksop Golf Clubs website to book.
Like a lot of golf clubs the trees have been thinned out to let more light onto the course creating better air circulation too. New tress have been planted in strategic areas to enhance the course.
There’s no sitting back here after a great Centenary year last year, it’s onto the next 100 years for Worksop for which Alan still expects to be in charge!
After chatting and waiting for the horizontal rain to stop and the flags to return to a normal position it was time for golf. I set Lefty and Newby a challenge which failed immediately as Newby hurt his back on Monday night so our newest recruit to the game of golf , Rob Jones (quiffy) was drafted in. I felt sorry for him as this is a monster of a course for a beginner, but to his credit he gave it a go. Lefty played with Head greenkeeper Rob.
Hole 3 lay up, chip on and one putt:
Now this hole is arguably the toughest par 3 in the county, but saying that, last time I played it I nearly got a hole in one, so not going for the green was going against the grain, but I still did anyway. I hit a screamer straight at the green only to watch it fall short and land in a bunker to which Garry shouted “you’re suppose to lay up not go in a bunker”, I did however managed to chip on but as for the one putt? No chance, I had to sink a 13 footer, I came close but no medal I’m afraid.
Newby- Go for it and cut the corner. Lefty-get it to the dogleg corner for a straight shot in.
Well since Newby was a no show (pulled his back samba dancing), it was up to me to fulfil my part, I watched Rob the head green keeper take a 3 iron off the tee and land his ball perfectly in the corner of the dog leg, so I thought I might as well do Newbys bit so I got the driver out and scuffed it 50 yards into the trees, luckily for me upon reaching the ball it favoured a Lefty and from that point I got it into the corner of the dog leg giving me a 3 wood shot onto the green. Big hitters can go for the corner but you need a big carry.
Hole 10 – No drivers just irons. Play seniors golf! Nice and straight down the middle.
I thought I played seniors golf any way! I would just like to point out this hole is a par 5 so to tee off with an iron was going against the grain, I hit my 3 iron off the tee then proceeded to play my next two shots from the 9th fairway, so I think I get disqualified on that one. In fact this hole found all 3 of us at some point attacking the hole from the 9th fairway so disqualification all round, but it did give Rob the opportunity to see which trees need felling.
Hole 13 – He is being nasty here. It’s a stroke Index 1 and only 412 yards! “Should be an easy par” he says! Standing on the tee the fairway slopes up and disappears over a ridge, Rob told us “on a day like this (56-60MPH winds and a tree did get blown over on the course while we were there!) we are going to be lucky just to get past the women’s tee”. We did managed that at least, but a well struck tee shot just saw my ball hang in the air and only go about 160yards, in fact I’m sure it started coming back towards me. As far a par No chance! On a day like we played it should have been a par 12.
19th buy a beer. According to Garry we haven’t managed that before!
I’m afraid we failed this one, what can you do? When putting out on the 18th the Secretary comes out from the club house and says “what do you fancy Larger or Ale?” to refuse would just be rude .
How would we sum up our day? Despite the strange weather – rain, bright sunshine, wind blowing a tree over on the 16th and Garry’s weird challenge, we had a great time. The course is outstanding and top of the tree (not the one that fell over) in our books. The blind tees shots make it a thinking game, the quick and sometimes very sloping greens present a most mind blowing, frustrating challenge and even when it rains the course dries quickly. I think you may guess, we had a great day all round and so we are returning on a sunny summers day at Alan’s invite.
Once in the warm clubhouse we recalled our victories and losses (where was Quiffy, last seen under a tree?).
The panoramic view from the clubhouse takes in the first tee and the 18th green plus a few more holes too making it a great place to sit and enjoy your food and drink. It’s also available for private functions and as the catering is very reasonable priced and tasty, it’s well worth a look if you’re planning an event, or society day.
Our thanks to all at Worksop Golf Club for a cracking day. The County Golfer lads.