Before we start let’s have a brief history on Allestree Park. The park itself dates back to the early 19th century when Allestree Hall was built. The hall is a Grade II* listed building and in 1928 Derwent Buildings Ltd and Offilers Brewery Ltd obtained the park and planned to build 2,000 houses and a golf course. By the Second World War the golf course and some houses had been built, but the park was requisitioned by the army, for the war effort, where they practiced throwing grenades! In 1947 Derby Corporation bought the park to preserve it for the people of Derby. In 1948 the golf course was opened as a nine-hole course and extended to eighteen holes in 1955.
You will be pleased to hear they don’t throw grenades here anymore just the odd stray ball. Our playing partners for the day were Martin Wightman (Honorary Secretary) and the club professional Leigh Woodward who gave us a warm welcome. As they went off to get warmed up we duly stocked up on chocolate bars, balls and water.
Let’s get on to the first tee. I decided I would tee up first and having not warmed up there is always a risk of your ball going in the opposite direction you hit it, but much to the amazement of Newbie I hit a screamer right down the centre of the fairway, to which Martin replied ‘We are going to have a tough match today, against these boys’. His thoughts were duly waylaid, after he watched Newbie hook his ball onto the opposite fairway. Upon reaching my ball, I struck a 9 onto the green and sunk it for a par. It’s easy this game, I don’t know what everyone moans about! The second is the 301 yard, par 4, it is an uphill tee shot on to a fairway that doglegs right, and the line is up the left side of the fairway. If you manage this you will get sight of just the top of the flag, where the green is. This kind of gives you a feel for the course straight away, let’s you go up the hill, down the hill, up the hill and down the hill, but this creates some stunning holes, none more evident than the third a 446 yard, par 4. The view from the tee is very picturesque I love holes where the tee is elevated and you’re driving into a wide open expanse of fairway, going down off the top of a hill. All of us got away clean here, you know you have hit a good tee shot, when after you have hit the ball, you can stand and watch it fly through the air, whilst you have time to have a swig on your hip flask before it lands. This left us 8 irons on to the green, which is banked up and raised, with a sloping bank on the right. Newbie hit a beauty within 4 foot of the hole; I decided the more technical approach by hitting the bank on the right, and rolling my ball on within 3 foot of the hole. This course seemed to like me.
The next few holes trees start to encroach onto the fairway, so you have to make sure that you drive accurately, this as you know by now is not in my repertoire, so I got punished by them. A good example of this is the 6 which is 361 yard, par 4. The fairway goes down then up before you, with trees to the left and the right by the dip in the fairway. My drive landed in the trees to the left and Leigh came to help me look for my ball. I’m glad he did, because he was able to lead me back out of the forest, otherwise I would have had a Bear Grylls moment. By the time I reached the green, I was on my seventh shot, while Newbie had parred it. The green on the 6, stands proudly in front of Allestree park manor house. As followed by a par 3, which is on the flat after this hole you start to climb back up the hill. The eighth is a stroke index 2, par 4, 387 yards; it’s an uphill shot, again with the trees encroaching on the fairway, so it has to be accurate. A good drive will give you sight of the green, but be aware 9 bunkers come in to play, so you better make sure your second shot is on the green.
By the time you reach the tenth, you are back on top of the hill. I must admit, they have used the lay of the land very well. You will enjoy, driving off this hole, it’s all downhill so you can really open up your shoulders. Our playing partners were as you would expect, thrashing us. In fact Newbie and I named Martin (the machine), as he constantly drove straight, hit his iron straight and never seemed to waver.
Leigh for the first time was playing with his glasses on – instead of his usual contact lenses, and if he wasn’t paring a hole he was birdieing. This led him to declare that he will be playing with his glasses on the next day, in the Derbyshire Alliance Competition. So to all the other professionals out there, you know his weakness, if he starts winning, nick his glasses.
You now weave your way up the hill until you hit the very top on the fifteenth; again you can’t help but stand, and take in the view. Leigh said to us, that his old Geography teacher told him that the peak district starts at Allestree Park golf course, and if you think about it, he’s probably right. From this point all the way to Belper and up to Matlock the hills increase.
Signature hole time, the seventeenth, par 3, 187 yards, it’s a beauty! (Check out our Facebook page for pictures of this hole, there is also a video of my amazing tee shot). What makes this hole so special is, it is difficult, but on the other hand rewarding if you play it right. It’s an elevated tee with a slope going down into a ditch, with trees left and right cutting it in half, sloping back up to an elevated green. Basically between the tee and the green is a world of mess. So you are either on it, or you have lost it. Leigh, Martin and I were just short of the green to the left. Newbie unfortunately had lost it, and himself, in the ditch, in the wilderness, between the tee and the green. The last few holes in true lefty style, I had started to warm up and basically I pared them. It’s just unfortunate that the first fifteen holes, I didn’t, but if you are going to go down, go down in a blaze of glory, which I did on the eighteenth.
The eighteenth, 323 yard, par 4 the trees again encroach about 170 yards on the fairway, so again you need to be accurate. I manage this; I did my best drive of the day and landed within a sand wedge of the green. Martin warned me, that the green slopes front to back so you have to both drop it like a bomb on the green, or try and roll it on and pray it stays there. I decided to try and drop it like a bomb, so I took out my sand wedge and duly dropped the ball within a gimme’ of the hole. That’s right my friends, a birdie. That’s the way to finish. Overall, I liken Allestree Park Golf course to a sleeping giant. The course is laid so well, every hole is different, you will find yourself standing on the many holes wondering which club to use. On a clear day it’s worth taking in the views. You can’t actually believe you are only 3 miles away from Derby City Centre. You may be wondering why I called it a sleeping giant, simply because if a private company got hold of the manor house, it would rival the likes of Breadsall Priory, but then you would be looking at paying over £50 a round. So for now, take advantage that it’s not. Prices Monday to Thursday, £16 before 12pm, after 12pm £10, and unbelievably, only £5 after 3pm. To play a course like this, at these prices is unmissable. We would like to thank Hugh, for sorting the round Martin and Leigh for giving us a good thrashing on the golf course, and for their hospitality. It’s worth noting that the club house, which is located at the back of the manor house, is a well stocked bar and much to the delight of Newbie and myself sells Doom Bar and my advice is go for the chip cob, Martin had this and it was massive. Just a note on the clubhouse, it is open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.