South Chesterfield – The difference 25 years makes…

Chatting at the bar in my local over a pint of San Miguel to some fellow golfers, and explaining County Golfer magazine would be playing South Chesterfield Golf Club the following day  to produce a course report,  someone said that they’d heard there was a golf course in Chesterfield that was pretty basic, not fantastic to look at, needed some due care and attention, with grass and trees that need to mature in order to be even a reasonable golf course to play.  I asked them, “When was the last time you played at South Chesterfield Golf  Club?” The reply was “at least 8 years ago”.

Well I say to my fellow golfers, it may be time to take another look at Grassmoor, South Chesterfield Golf Club!

Just 5 minutes from the M1 at Junction 29, and a short drive down the A617, you’ll soon be in the grounds of South Chesterfield G.C. itself, with a nice gated entrance, drive and reasonably sized car park for even the busiest of days at the course.  Boy, was it a hot one!  Remember the week in June where temperatures reached into the late-20s? (or 80s for those who like the more British Imperial measure!), the same night England under-performed against Belgium!  Well that was the day we played – it was like being in Spain!  So for an 11am tee-time, we knew we needed to pack our trolleys with plenty of water.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the Assistant Pro, Adam Bedford in the Pro Shop which offers a good range of top quality products at competitive prices which deliver brilliant value for the beginner to the more advanced golfer.  Further offering the chance of a price-match (or even better), on any genuine quote on all golfing equipment.  They also stock major brands from Ping, Titleist, Footjoy and Mizuno (Mizuno selecting South Chesterfield G.C. as their major fitting centre), whilst providing all the professional advice you could ask for from a qualified PGA Golf Pro to help you improve your game further!

Adam who was extremely knowledgeable about the course – as you’d expect, gave us plenty of sound advice before commencing play, advising that the course is running relatively quick due to the hot weather we have been having (excellent news for us who tend to be too short on most holes from the tee – and gives the ball the further bounce!)  In fairness, I don’t think it played too quickly – I think the groundskeepers have done excellent work to keep the course playing very well, and that showed going round the course and seeing them watering the greens throughout the warmest times of the day.

We started with half an hour of putting practice on the lovely set practice green that showed us how even the tiniest of putts will be challenging throughout the day…though, I’m not sure if it helped when we got onto the course.  We blame the hot weather!

A steady walk to the first tee, we decided to play from the yellow tees, and immediately I could see that this course was not what I’d got set in my mind from our discussions the night before!  The course has clearly settled now, with grass that is well matured, and rough that I did get the chance to play through after my first shot off the tee.  The first hole is a 327 yard, par 4, that dog-legs to the right after roughly 200 yards, so you’re truly straight into the action, no easy starts here, so I’d tend to agree with the score index of 8.  We both finished 2 over par on this hole due to a “cheeky bunker” to the front-right of the green.  I’d offer the advice of driving straight down the fairway on this hole, as far to the end of the corner as possible for a straight chip to the green.

The course is nicely laid out without having to walk too far to each tee.  The second hole is almost a reverse of the first, so switch the right dog-leg to the left and the bunker from the right to the left on the green and you’ve got the hole.  This is a down-hill hole which I feel is quite challenging.  Be really careful not to over-shoot the green, or let the ball roll, as the drop-off into the rough at the back of the green caught me out!  (I’d actually say it’s better to be short on this hole than long!)

A short walk from the 2nd hole to the 3rd tee and we were greeted with a beautifully crafted hole, that is incredibly challenging.  Although this hole is a short par 3 at only 157-yards, it has a S.I. of 6, and I think this will be to do with the gullies that have formed which I’m sure in slightly cooler conditions have a stream running through as a water-hazard!  Fine for the seasoned golfer who can strike a nice shot directly onto the green, but more challenging for those who are not, especially if you were to play from the white tee which makes this hole a 185 yards.  It would be advisable on this hole to reach the right hand side of the green and let the green do some work for you.

Reaching the 5th tee, I see a clear water hazard in the distance in the form of a large-middle-fairway pond with well maintained water conditions and reeds to tempt the magnetism of my ball!  Does any one else have golf-balls like that?  Personally we knew we wouldn’t manage to drive clear over the pond, so we both left it short for a nice long iron shot needed to help reach the green in 3 for this challenging par 5, and it was rather amusing to watch a crow chasing a cat off the course, clearly belonging to a nearby neighbours home.

Looking back over the last course report in Summer 2014, I’d tend to agree that the 10th hole is one of my favourites on the course too.  A dog-leg right with a hill and a beautifully maintained pond to chip over to reach the green.  I took my shot, and fell incredibly short, meaning 3 shots to reach the green instead of the needed 2 to help with par.

Interestingly, Derek (or Dad, as I’ve known him for years), who I was playing with decided to go long from the tee, taking a 7 iron to reach the green, flew over the green, shouting “fore” to the players who were sitting waiting at the next tee, stopping literally 3 feet from them, “Sorry Gents!”  This made the remaining part of the hole extremely difficult for him, chipping back onto the green where it angles back towards the pond , meant it gained more momentum, and rolled all the way back onto the edge of the green, making a difficult putting shot!

The course is 5982 yards, which has clearly been improved from the shorter 5379 yards it was in 2014, making it more challenging for the beginner than it was previously; however, the fairways are quite forgiving and kind to beginners to compensate, being nice and open on the majority of holes.  The tree-lines have also improved dramatically from 2014, and certainly from 2008, meaning the course has now developed better character and is starting to shine nicely!

I still find it amazing that this course never had to close during all the upheavals the course went through, to create the course you see today!

The 17th hole is another favourite on the course, especially since we both hit par, even whilst it was being protected by the bunker to the right.  A nice gentle hole that relaxes you slightly before the long 503-yard-par-5, 18th hole.  This hole was originally nearly 120 yards shorter, but after further development of the course the green was moved 75 yards further and the tee was moved back over 40 yards to make it a challenge for even the seasoned golfer.

The course par is 70, and we finished in under 5…hours!  before returning to the clubhouse for the recommended Clubhouse burger and much-needed pint each!  The food was fantastic and if you are hungry after your round, the clubhouse burger is certainly the choice I’d reach out for again. Not forgetting of course the pint of nicely chilled San Miguel.

All-in-all, South Chesterfield G.C. is now a course that has seen huge improvement over time and now offers a friendly-local choice for not only golfers, but weddings and events – in fact, Chesterfield F.C, are using the course for a day-out and choice local course.  Truly, if you haven’t played this course in the past 5 years, I would urge you to play again – you’ll be surprised at the difference half a decade makes.

I would certainly return to replay in the near future, to challenge myself again and would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team on the course for their kind hospitality to County Golfer in inviting us to play.