Buxton & High Peak – Fighting the sun

Back in 1887 someone looked at this land, set some 1’100 feet above sea level, and decided this would make a great golf course, so they instructed J.Morris to crack on with designing it. The result was a golf course that some have likened to an ‘inland links course’ (holes 4,5,6th) and others describe as a ‘challenging and enjoyable test of golf’, welcome to Buxton & High Peak Golf Club.

On a blazing hot day yours truly (Lefty) and Newby were dispatched from the office to review this course high in the Derbyshire hills. The funny thing is, despite the course being set high in the Peak, this course is not subject to arduous hill climbs so you can leave your mountain gear at home.

The course itself is 5786-yard par 69 off the yellows, and 5204 yards par 71 for the ladies. The clubhouse serves food, and there is a well stocked pro shop for balls, water etc. We were met by Steve Norton who oversees the promotion of the club and also bumped into the club captain who was busy watering the flower beds, he’s very good at multitasking I’ve been told. They also told us that they are a very friendly club which permeates down to its members and visitors.

After stocking up on yet more balls (I lost quite a lot into the water on the 17th at Radcliffe-on-Trent) we headed out onto the 1st, which to be honest is quite a tough one to get you started, it’s a stroke index 3 uphill 427 yard par 4, and on the day we played we had a prevailing wind. I managed to get a bogie and I was quite happy with that, I won’t tell you what Newby got as I lost count at 7! Once you are up it’s followed by the easiest hole on the course, stroke index 18 269-yard par 4! Two very contrasting holes back to back.

Now to the 6th, it’s 412 yard par 4 which you might think is not too far, so what makes it a stroke index 2? This little corner of the golf course has a character all its own, giving you the feel that you have just walked onto a links course, the fairway undulates up and down before your eyes. The 6th requires a big drive otherwise an old quarry will come into play, I didn’t realise it was there but I soon found it with my second shot and the only way out was a sand wedge basically dropping a shot, if I played it again I would have played it very differently. This then leads onto another links shot, the 299 Yard par 4, it’s a bit of a ‘hit and hope for the best’ hole especially if you have not played it before. The green here is hidden from view, fortunately I hit a straight drive over a large hump hoping that was the line, it was thankfully. When you find the green you realise why you cannot see it because it’s in a basin hidden by humps and bumps, I got a par but I could imagine it could easily be a card wrecker. This is followed by a peach of a par 3, an elevated tee looking down onto a picture perfect green, they have made really good use of the land in this corner and it was a joy to play.

I was really enjoying my golf at this point, the sun was shining, the course was throwing up some interesting holes. Let me bring you to the 7th, this hole really gives you a chance of a birdie especial on a hot day, where a good drive will see your ball roll and roll making you feel that you are Dustin Johnson, this left me an easy shot to the green, I got on in two, missed the birdie but got an easy par.

This will lead you on to, depending on the wind, one of the hardest par 3’s you will ever played, fortunately for us the wind was a gentle breeze, but I have played this hole when even a driver would not get anywhere near the green! The 11th is the stroke index 1, and if played wrong is a beast, trust me because I got it so wrong.  The way to play this dog legged hole is to aim for the path in the distance, use your driver as the more you get it towards the path the easier this hole becomes. I used an iron thinking I would drive too far, if you get a par on this then you have done well.

Coming back down the other way on the 12th a par 5 482 yards, they make good use of the quarry, drive as close as you dare to the edge of the quarry face, if you do this without the ball falling off you have a real chance of a birdie, or a least a cracking 2nd shot down the fairway, this hole was a real joy to play.

At this point Newby and myself had really got in to our stride, playing some really nice golf, and the course was responding to our shots from the 14th to the 18th it’s par 4 all the way. Coming onto the 18th on this sunny dry day, Newby hit his best drive of the day, and because the fairway slopes down to the green, he ended just right of it and finished with a solid birdie, you see I’m not biased I do mention his good shots every now and again.

To sum up, the Buxton and High Peak Golf Course is set in a beautiful part of the world, they make good use of the topography, bringing in quarry’s to get you thinking and greens hidden amongst lumps and bumps that you would find on a links course.  So the question is, is the course worth travelling too? Well put it this way I will be back.