Moortown – The dilemma of the winter golfer

Where to play during the winter months and still get to play a decent course that does not have you putting your waders‭ ‬on to get a good round‭, ‬is always a problem‭?‬

Don’t worry‭, ‬here at County Golfer HQ we‭  ‬have gone before you to find three great courses that laugh in the face of rain and winter‭ ‬tees‭, ‬in fact we have sourced three courses that between them‭  ‬have hosted the Ryder Cup‭, ‬Curtis Cup‭, ‬R‭ ‬&‭ ‬A Open Qualifiers just to mention a few‭, ‬and have all been designed by the famous course designer‭ ‬‮ ‬Dr Alister MacKenzie‭.‬ Dear fellow golfer‭, ‬I introduce to you Moortown‭, ‬Alwoodley and Ganton‭.‬

Moortown has always held a richly deserved reputation as one of the country’s finest Championship Golf courses‭. ‬Originally designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie‭, ‬Moortown is set in 175‭ ‬acres of dramatically contrasting‭, ‬mainly level woodland and moorland‭.‬ From the opening par 5‭ ‬there are many fine holes to enjoy including the new 6th‭, ‬rated the most difficult‭, ‬and the famous Gibraltar par 3‭ ‬10th with its sloping plateau green‭, ‬the Club’s signature hole‭.‬

The day we chose to play was after 48‭ ‬hours of torrential rain with many golf clubs in the area closed‭, ‬but not Moortown‭, ‬they were not even playing off winter mats‭, ‬a testament to how well the course drains‭.‬ Before you start you must look around the club house as it is steeped in history‭. ‬Having been the club to host the first ever Ryder Cup on European Soil‭, ‬the memorabilia is fantastic and there are some great golf stories to be heard and seen‭, ‬such as the golfer Nigel Denham who was playing in the Brabazon Trophy competition‭. ‬Visit our Facebook page to see the story and see why he has a brass plaque on the floor of the Club House bar‭!‬‭ ‬The place oozes history and you know you are about to play somewhere special‭.

Let’s get on to the course‭, ‬which is‭  ‬6452‭ ‬yards off the yellow tees‭, ‬par 71‭, ‬and off the red tees it’s 5939‭ ‬yards par 75‭. ‬From this yardage you know your in for quite a test‭.‬ The first is a nice hole to get you warmed up‭, ‬a 488‭ ‬yard par 5‭. ‬You tee off from a nicely elevated tee looking down a sloping fairway‭. ‬The only problem here is‭, ‬for most golfers like myself‭, ‬there are several fairway bunkers sat just about where you would‭ ‬drive to‭. ‬I did as all good golfer do‭, ‬‘hit and hope’‭ ‬and managed to miss them all‭! ‬From this point the fairway narrows with a ditch either side to catch a wayward ball‭. ‬Negotiate through this successfully‭, ‬you will then have a shot at the green which is well protected by bunkers‭. ‬Somehow I managed to miss all the hazards on this hole and got a par‭. ‬This games is easy‭!!‬

Moving onto the second you get to see across most of the course‭. ‬It did remind me a lot of Sherwood Forest Golf Course in the way it looks‭, ‬with well placed trees and open spaces where the hummocks can grow‭, ‬and some gorse bushes dotted here and there‭. ‬I felt quite at home‭. ‬This hole‭, ‬a 440‭ ‬yard par 4‭, ‬needs a nice straight drive but not too far as a ditch lies diagonally across the fairway‭. ‬I laid up short of this but I still needed to hit the elevated green‭. ‬Coming up short I managed to skip the ball up to the hole for my third‭, ‬and in for another par‭! ‬I was on fire‭….,‬but would this run continue‭?‬ I was about to be humbled by the 4th‭  ‭ ‬a long par 4‭ ‬at 436‭ ‬yards‭. ‬They have cleverly put a cross bunker here which most of us will struggle to get over‭, ‬but because I‭ ‬think I’m a better golfer than I really am‭, ‬I tried to drive over it‭, ‬and failed‭. ‬If you managed to get over this you would still need a‭ ‬well hit wood to get any chance of a par‭, ‬as I struggled to get out of the bunker‭. ‬I was hit with my first 7‭ ‬of the day‭.‬

You find on a championship course that sometimes only a good‭, ‬well struck drive will do‭. ‬Hole 5‭ ‬is a good example of this as it’s a relatively short par 4‭ ‬at only 340‭ ‬yards‭, ‬but it’s a true dog leg left‭, ‬and from the tee there is a wilderness of gorse and heather bushes between you and the fairway‭. ‬Many a golf ball has been sacrificed to the golf gods here‭! ‬Avoiding this it’s a 5‭ ‬iron to the green‭, ‬fortunately we all managed to get away‭. ‬I rattled the hole for a birdie‭, ‬so it’s all about the drive‭.‬

Hole six is the‮ ‬first of the new holes introduced‮ ‬when changes to the course were made in 1989‭ ‬and more recently altered in 2012‭. ‬Once etched out of the woodland‭, ‬the hole has been modified to represent the heathland feel that MacKenzie initially designed‭.‬‭ ‬Many of the birch and rowan trees that once lined the fairway have been removed‭, ‬to be replaced by bunkers and areas where the‭ ‬natural heath will again return‭. ‬You can see that Moortown have repeated this around the course‭, ‬just like Sherwood did themselves some years back‭, ‬the result of this is that it keeps the shade off the greens and fairways‭, ‬stopping them getting boggy and attracting unwanted diseases that attack the greens‭.‬

One of my favourite holes has to be the 10th‭ ‬or‭ ‬‘Gibraltar’‭ ‬as it’s known to the locals‭. ‬A very picturesque hole to look at and play‭. ‬It’s 172‭ ‬yard Par 3‭ ‬teeing off up to an elevated green which sits on top of steep banks and nestles into a rocky slope at the back‭,‬‭ ‬hence the name‭ ‬‘Gibraltar’‭. ‬There are bunkers scooped into the side of the slopes‭, ‬so either you hit the green or you end up‭  ‬trying to chip out of a bunker with the green above your head‭. ‬Fortunately both Newby and myself hit the green‭, ‬but even putting here is a challenge as the‭ ‬green slopes back toward the tee‭. ‬Even with the rain the day before they were playing fast‭. ‬I managed a par but I can imagine that if the greenkeepers were in a bad mood they could really put the flag in some very challenging positions‭.‬

You now head out to the furthest point of the course where you will have to face some blind tee shots and clusters of fairway bunkers hidden from view‭. ‬The course here really opens up with the moorland coming through‭.‬

The course starts to tighten up as you approach the 15th‭.‬‭ . ‬I decided to play this hole with an iron‭, ‬which was the right choice especially with my sometimes wild slice‭. ‬Accuracy is needed here‭, ‬in fact both this hole and the 16th‭ ‬will punish a wayward drive with ditches and fairway bunkers and trees waiting to catch you out‭. ‬My advice is‭, ‬if like me you hit a wayward drive then stick to your ions‭.‬

The 18th‭ ‬is an excellent finishing hole‭, ‬you can just imagine what it was like back when the Ryder Cup was played here‭, ‬holding your nerve as crowds of people watched‭. ‬After Newby and myself got two nice tee shots away we could see the club house welcoming us home‭. ‬Visually it’s a nice approach shot to the green but now is not the time to duff your shot as you are being watched from the club house‭. ‬We both managed to miss the windows unlike Nigel Denham‭, (‬check our Facebook page for his story‭), ‬and sink our puts for a couple of‭ ‬pars‭.‬

Sitting in the club house surrounded by golfing history we both agreed that Moortown is a special place‭, ‬you feel at home here and we were in no rush to get away‭. ‬The course was in excellent condition‭. ‬I would say that this course is an honest course‭, ‬if you go in the rough you still have a chance of finding your ball and getting out‭. ‬The greens run so true they are a joy to put on‭, ‬and‭, ‬in true MacKenzie style‭, ‬the bunkers are well thought out and dare‭ ‬you to go for the risk to reap the reward‭.‬

‭ ‬We would like to thank all at Moortown for making us feel so welcome and I’m sure they will show the same hospitality to you when you visit and play their great course‭.‬

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.

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.

Beeston Fields – a relaxing, calm oasis

What a stunner! As Beeston Fields rightly says on the website, “a relaxing, calm oasis, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.” It’s truly hard to play this course and believe you’re only a stone’s throw away from the A52 and just over 3 miles into the centre of Nottingham itself.  I say a stone’s throw, it was probably further than our best drive on the day!

On entrance to the club you drive through a tree-lined drive, Old Drive, which certainly lives up to its’ name leading to the clubhouse, formerly the home of Sir Harold Bowden founder of the Raleigh Cycle Company, dating back to 1837.  Being guided around the clubhouse later in the day by George Conrad, General Manager, he pointed out the Raleigh logo on the original fireplace, now the two-tabled snooker hall where you can feel the history flowing through the room.

After meeting George initially at the club, we were guided to the pro shop, now located in the clubhouse itself, where we were handed our playing cards and a beautifully presented course guide. This offered details on each hole, length of hole, and what I personally describe as a well detailed obstacle course, with a huge right bias which gives you plenty of practice from beneath trees, bushes and rough throughout the challenging 71 par course.


A steady walk down to the first tee where you are greeted by what used to be the pro shop, and now houses a custom club fitting room where you’ll have help at hand from the two golf pros; Natalie Clarke and Antony Ryder.  The first hole really sets the high standard of the green keeping on the well groomed course, with a glimpse of the green in the distance at 304 yards and a steady 4-par first hole.  Shaking hands with Newbie, we commenced play.


Newbie taking his first drive of the day at what must have been a whopping 250 yards just short of the lake slightly left of the green, leaving a nice pitch onto the green and assuring me he doesn’t always play this way.  Yeah, right!  Straight in for par, and we’ll say no more about how I ended that hole!

Onto the second tee, crossing a short flat bridge and over the lake.  The country feel came into play with squirrels and pheasants crossing the fairway on the hole.  I swear these were putting me off my game already! (#anyexcusewilldo).  After a short hole on the 3rd we get to the fourth, and Newbie tells me that this is a green that not even the powers above can possibly master!

The advice for this hole would be to get below the flag and be careful not to overdo the putting – you’ll end up back on the fairway with the gradient this green offers.  Fortunately for us, due to the winter we’ve only just come through, the greens are running on the slow side, which really helped on this particular green.


There are two holes, 5 and 12, on the course where a bell is found to inform the next players following that they are clear to play, they are truly blind holes from the tee.  I’d advise ringing and moving to the sides in case there is a Tiger following on, with a huge drive.

For me, and I don’t know why, but as soon as you see the OoB (Out of Bounds) highlighted on a course guide, it offers what can only be described as a magnet!  Unfortunately for the neighbours of the course, they must have an extra ball in their perfect primulas, “stupid boy!”

The Stroke Index for hole 7 indicates 1, which I would tend to agree with as a par 4 hole.  You really need to get short of the right-bias for this hole, unless you can magic the ball round the corner with an excellent drive.  It needs to be straight and centre for the next fairway, just in time for the second huge drive needed to reach the green in two, to help with achieving par, a challenging hole even for the dedicated golfer!

Teeing off from the 8th, be sure to take a look at the course guide, you’ll find the back end behind the bunker ahead is much larger than you’d expect, so don’t under-do this, be sure to get over the bunker, but if you pull right, be sure to shout “fore” for the players at the 9th tee.  In hindsight, it gives you the inclination to look back towards the 8th whilst on the 9th tee yourself.

As Newbie and I approached the 10th tee, his game really took a turn!  A great swing, strike and drive right onto the fairway, couldn’t have been a better shot, being dead centre – it’s a pity we weren’t on the 12th hole because it would have been a shot to be proud of.  Sorry Newbie!


Hole 14, though short, and a great opportunity to capture a photo, is deceiving.  This needs to hit the green in a single shot and if you’ve got the skills, some slight backspin to stop it on point. A slight draw or fade and you’re in the trees, short and you’ll land in the bunker,  going long there is a huge roll off, which will let your ball keep going into the trees at the back. Personally, I think this hole should be rated higher on the score index, especially as a par 3.  There isn’t much chance for a comeback if you’ve executed incorrectly, fortunately for me, it was my one and only par on the day, hero!


At this stage, you’ll be hoping you’re not getting tired from the course.  In comparison to the 14th you’ll have just played, the 15th looks like a very long walk to the flag, which again you capture a glimpse of in the distance, thinking, “is that actually where I need to get to?”  Yes, it really is!  You get to the end of the 15th hoping for a shorter hole, to find the 16th is another huge drive up the fairway for a back-to-back par 5.  A great test of your golfing ability and fitness which I clearly need to work on!

Following the 17th hole, you walk down a small pathway, perfectly manicured like the rest of the course, and across the gated area to be faced with an absolutely stunning view for the 18th back to the clubhouse.  This was a true moment of “wow.”  What a stunning clubhouse it is!  I’d agree with the score index on this hole, it’s two, nice gentle swings to reach the green in two, giving you a good chance of birdie if you’ve hit the green in a good position.  Probably my best hole of the day – which made me look excellent in front of people watching from the clubhouse (good job they didn’t see the remainder of the round!).  The cut and finish of this hole is truly superb – it’s a beautiful entry to the hole where the fairway merges with the green with precision.

A quick handshake again between Newbie and myself to finalise the hole and thank each other for the game, and off we walked to the car park.  When you’ve completed your round there is an air shoe cleaner, to rid those blades of grass that has stuck to the sole.  Actually, we didn’t have very much to clean off due to the great weather conditions of the day.  Then a short walk back to the car to change the golf shoes, and put the clubs in the car boot.

Following the course we decided to take our chances at ‘a hole in one’ in the 19th.  First attempt, and no out of bounds in here, much to the appreciation of the neighbours!

The newly refurbished restaurant and bar is open to the public and gives a great view of the Park and the 18th green.  The team in the restaurant are friendly, helpful and prompt with food which was much-appreciated by the hungry golfers, and is consistent with the high standard the club prides itself on.


The club’s lunch menu has recently been updated and has been put together to ensure that everyone is catered for – though, I’m sure like most things, it’s impossible to please everyone!  We both ate the chilli burritos and we’d absolutely recommend these, superb!  It’s also worth keeping in mind the restaurant can accommodate up to 120 people, so for dinner parties or other social groups and clubs, this is an ideal location.

The course is still owned by the Mitchell family, and is now run by the great-niece of Fred Mitchell, Philippa Marshall who is one of the few female Managing Directors of a golf club in the UK and a single figure handicap golfer. Philippa is certainly not afraid of investing in the club, having spent thousands upon thousands on the Walled Gardens, where the wedding business to the golf club is found.

There is ongoing investment in this club, the staff and the greenskeepers. A brand new Greens Shed houses all of the greenskeeping equipment.  A new and experienced head greenskeeper, Steve,  succeeds David, the greenskeeper for 32 years, and a new biomass boiler is  more eco-friendly, and there is a bar ‘app’  to keep tabs!

We enjoyed our day here as the County Golfer team and would urge you to take a closer look at the facilities that this club has to offer in addition to the fabulous course on show – we’ll certainly return ourselves in the future!  And finally a big thank you to George Conrad and the team at Beeston Fields for their excellent hospitality and clear vision of this clubs future!     Mark

Erewash Valley – ‘a true members course in tip top condition’

You will find some butterflies but then again you’re more likely to find yourself on the 18th hole named after the original farm (Willow) that this course was built on-in 1905.

The extensive clubhouse incorporates the original Willow Brook Farm and as with many areas of British countryside, over the years was carved up to make way for transportation links with either canal, steam or soon to come – high speed train, road or motorway.  The latter was to befall Erewash Golf Course in 1965 with the construction of the M1 which deprived them of a good few acres. I looked on Google Earth and noticed  that if only the planners had followed the Roman “straight road” policy then the course would have been left untouched, and they would still have a Par 6 hole.  A sweeping curve must have been put in to avoid a house or a frog I presume! Whatever the reason the course still sits in 165 acres of well manicured parkland.

When I arrived the course was buzzing with two competitions. Club Professional Lee Sheldon set me up with cards, and off into the clubhouse I went for a coffee, where I bumped into 92 year old Syd Meehan the club’s oldest member, having his breakfast. He still plays a few holes himself  and has been a member for fifty two years.

Manager Malcolm Dinneen joined me and filled me in on the latest developments at Erewash Golf Club.  At this point my playing partner Brian arrived and joined our discussion along with Club Chairman Paul Thomas. Paul explained that  “work is now well underway to provide a new covered driving range”.  The earth movers could be seen in the distance making great progress, putting 17 acres of land  near to the clubhouse to good use and providing useful income for the club. Let’s be fair, to keep a course as well manicured as Erewash, money is required.  I would imagine that the members are delighted with this other ‘string to their bow’. Now members and visitors alike have the opportunity to get in plenty of practice before they play, or to spend a good few hours honing their skills.  “The range is expected to open in late summer 2019” Paul continued “and will enhance the already fantastic facilities for members and the surrounding community.  We will be running a variety of programmes for all ages and abilities to attract more people to the healthy and sociable sport of golf”.

Brian, my playing partner commented how easy the course was to find and that it looked in beautiful condition. I agreed wholeheartedly.  Before I get onto the golf I must say how huge the clubhouse is. Over the years it has been extended to provide one of the largest and most up to date facilities in the area which now caters for fine dining, parties of all kinds as well as corporate entertainment and business seminars.  These facilities are not just for members but available to the general public.  A visit to will give you the whole story and packages available.

Malc explained that “the thing people remember most about the golf course is the quarry holes and the manicured condition of the course”. So what can I write about? Well this course has more to offer than that because once out there you come to appreciate how well laid out it is and, whilst not being the longest course around it has features that will test all standards of golfer.  The other fact to mention is that, on a selfish note,  this round of golf was the most successful I’ve had for the past five years. I was beginning to feel that, after a spate of illness and struggling to get my swing sorted, my good golfing days were over.  As usual my putting was good and, as I’d been concentrating on chipping, that came good too. So why didn’t I challenge the course record?  It’s a mystery to me! I’ll explain.

This was the hottest day of year so far and I was smothered in sun cream to make me slip round the course with ease.  No excuse there then. Malc suggested playing off the green tees followed up by ,“Please don’t use the whites there’ll be uproar”. Funnily enough I wasn’t even dreaming of playing off the whites so all blushes saved there!!

The first two holes are lovely, straight Par 5’s, Stroke index 2 and 16 respectively. I played better on the stroke index 2 for some reason, but we both double bogeyed them. Nerves I think! Two shots dropped each there as I veered off wildly to the right with my driver, but I was relieved to miss the water fountain on the 2nd.  I loved the ‘bit of old England’ furrows on the third hole and hit a reasonable tee shot but went under the trees.  There are a fair few trees on the course to catch you napping and on the first 12 holes I seemed to have to be rescuing myself out of them albeit successfully.

Arriving at the famous quarry holes 4 & 5 we parked our buggy up and just stood to admire the way this area of land, that provided plenty of stone for the Victorians to use, has been utilised to maximum degree. I hit a beauty off the tee and, with better accuracy would have birdied it, but I was happy to come away with a par. The same went for the 5th as I hit the immaculate bunker and played out to within three foot of the hole and got a par.  Very happy now.

We crossed the 15th fairway to  the elevated tee at the Par 5, 6th.  I was gratified to see my ball ping off a tree and out onto the fairway to land just in front of the bunker.  Four shots later and my par was secured. “How was Brian doing” I hear you ask? Brain is a steadier golfer than me and far better off the tee and fairway, but I generally edge it on the green, today I seemed to be getting fairway and chipping going well. On one hole the ball sat up so well I used a three iron off the fairway and creamed it. I was hopeful of beating him for the first time in years. Mind you we do enjoying playing for the company it brings as we have loads to talk about.  A par at the 6th and I was in dreamland.

Hole 7 and I came to earth with a bang and lost control of my driving. I’m still having problems with my driver and I will tell you now that  since I got home it’s in a corner and never coming out of the bag again. Here again I hit a tree, who put them there I wonder? Inaccuracy was costing me shots and there should have been birdies in at least two holes.

We arrived at the 8th and faced an uphill shot to the green and a bogey each. The well manicured greens were playing beautifully and this suited my game. We were moving along at a nice pace playing golf, taking pictures and writing  but a two ball was catching us up so we allowed them through.

On the 12th hole which doglegs to the right, Brian hit a lovely shot which landed nicely on the 11th tee! Here we got a chance to talk to the lads from Happy Shankers doing 72 holes in a day in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. One of the lads quipped to Brian  “If you don’t get the ball onto the 12th green from here it’ll cost you a tenner”, he didn’t I hasten to add.  If you wish to help the lads, each of whom have been affected by cancer, either the loss of a family member, or seeing close friends heartbroken by the disease, just go to and then Happy Shankers and donate to their great cause.

We didn’t hold them up long as they were on their third round but  I do regret not getting a better picture of them. (Sorry guys, but I hope the plug helps).

The 14th confused me as the undulations to the right kept catching my eye and the stripes of the mower caused me to line up wrong! Well that’s my excuse and I managed to put my ball on the path to the left of the green.  A simple chip on was needed, but totally out of context for my round up to now, I chipped into the bunker then onto the green and walked away with a 5. Useless.

Downhill through the trees at the dogleg left 15th, I must declare that I was tiring and hit a lazy shot that only got down to the trees on the right, but then I managed a good shot out and bogeyed this hole. The straight 16th again proved that using an iron instead of a big driver was making a better game of it and cutting down on wayward shots. I messed up on the 17th by going out of bounds, so Brian won that one! Playing over the water at the 18th I hit it a lot further than I thought and ended up over the small path with a chip back on for another bogey. Brian went swimming! My hole.

Shaking hands we both agreed,  ‘fantastic course, pristine condition, a true members course in tip top condition with hardly any rough but plenty of trees to catch you out.

Stopping for a beer,  lasagne and salad, we soaked up the atmosphere of a 113 year old club.  Yes I did go down to Willow farm, and I did see a butterfly on the fairway,  all I’m hoping now is that when I get home  “Supper’s Ready” !

My thanks to all at Erewash Valley Golf Club for a great welcome and a fantastic course to play golf on managed by Course Manager, Darren Edwards. I will remember it as the day my golf finally came together.

Radcliffe On Trent – The Rain Finally Stops

When the invite came from Karl Adams to play at Radcliffe on Trent Golf Club we quickly packed our bags. If, like us, you’ve been heartily sick of the rain then you can bet your life the golf clubs are too. They have had a tough time with closures for waterlogging but, on the upside, the sun has started to shine, albeit haphazardly, and summer is beckoning, (or so we thought).

Entering the Pro Sop we had a warm welcome from Claire who has been at the club for 15 years now. We were kitted out with scorecards, water and the customary chocolate bar to replenish lost energy.  The sky was looking ominously dark as we eagerly set off.

All three of us  got off well at the first  with high hopes of beating the Bulwell Forest  scores. As I didn’t play there I was on a winner, anything under 100 and the honours were mine.

Lefty took the Tiger line over the trees and declared that  “he had deliberately left it short of the ditch”. He’s full of rubbish like that.  I say that with confidence because he lost his ball on the next shot.  Then I looked for the camera to take a photograph and realized I’d left it on the floor outside the clubhouse, so off Lefty drove at speed to get it.

As there was a two ball waiting to tee off after us we did the gentlemanly thing and let them through. That lull should have allowed us time to take a breather and capitalize on our good drives.  I did get to walk over the bridge though and was happy to see my ball on the fairway.

My second shot was not long enough as I under clubbed leaving me short and having to decide which club to use to get onto the green. I needn’t have bothered because again I fell short.

I’ve realized, the more I think about the shot the worse I hit the ball. But I was pleased to come off with a 5. Newby went off to the left and into the trees and then had to get back to the green and came off with a six. Three perfectly achievable pars ruined. That’s golf for you.

The second hole affords a gently sloping downhill shot. We all felt that the bunkers were incredibly well placed to catch the mid handicapper. It’s a dog-leg right. Watch out for the right bunker as it’s a  beast to get out of. I thankfully landed my third shot short and managed to chip within three yards of the hole. I needed a miracle to avoid a 6 but I didn’t get one. Two putts and I came off with a six.  The greens were playing magnificently and  pretty quick. It’s a struggle to get used to them after a winter of soggy greens. Your game has to change.

On the Third, a dog-leg right, Lefty parred it. A great tee shot that was long and true just bisected the fairway giving  him a  super approach shot  to the green with a 9 iron, and two putts saw him dancing with joy. He should have birdied this one after such a good start.

The 4th. This is a long par 4 at 437 yards and Newby got the second of his three pars.  At stroke index 3 this is a tough hole and I scraped a five, which was hugely disappointing . I’d read up on the holes on the web site and it said this about this long par 4,  “Don’t go left, trees await” I should have listened!

The  5th hole. I really don’t want to write about this one. I’m sure it’s a good hole. Aren’t the trees nice at this time of year?

6th. Newby thought he had nailed it but the green narrowed alarmingly and his shot went slightly left which left him a nasty downhill chip from out of the rough. The chip didn’t go as planned and the ball refused to get up to the green in sufficient distance to get another par. Lefty went into the bunker. In fact I’m sure he was the only player to do so which is unusual because we all catch one normally.

By the 7th hole the rain had decided to get a bit heavier and to be honest it spoilt what was a most enjoyable round so far, but we have to bear with that in England, it makes the game even more difficult but hones your skills.

The greens slowed a little at this point but I found that my putting was getting better as I could punch them a little harder to get up close and even into the hole.

Before we played the 8th we were caught up by a couple of  friendly local lads (pictured) who were as wet as us.

The 8th is 192 yard par 3. The bunkers are not as near the green as you think. You need a good 170 yard carry just to get past the middle bunker. I landed a yard short leaving me to pitch onto the green. I scuffed it and ruined my chance of a wet birdie. Newby took a 5 iron and wellied it but only made the front of the green. Lefty went into the left bunker and said he did a 4.  We are convinced that his score converter is rigged similar to the euro against the pound and at the minute his currency is strong against the par.

The 9th. We were quite soaked by now and the shots were not impressive as I ended in the rough on the right and seemed to stay there for the next three shots feeling soaking wet. Just in the distance we could see the clubhouse and a pint of Speckled Hen was calling out to me, so we decided that we would follow the procession to the clubhouse and come back to fight the back nine another day.  The greens really held up well to say that the rain came down pretty heavy and the course was still good underfoot. A real treat to play.

While we were ordering drinks and perusing the menu Phil, complete in cooking gear,  said that the steak pies were good. To prove the point may I direct you to the picture of the magnificent steak pie, presented to us elegantly by Louise, which we devoured along with chips and peas. Our efforts were so appreciated by the members that one came across to congratulated us for finishing it. We were convinced it was a ‘pie for four’ but nevertheless  in true Desparate Dan style and not wanting to appear rude we ate it all.

Phil and Louise really looked after us well in the clubhouse and we appreciated the time they gave us even though they were obviously busy.  Our thanks to all at Radcliffe on Trent GC for a super day.  We intend to come back on a sunny summers day to play the back nine and have another super steak pie.

PS:  Just to clarify things, we were playing off yellows. In fact the yellows are only 174 yards shorter than the white. ‘We should play off whites”  I said, but no one listened. Not that I would play any better, but I like the elongated views of holes.

Ashbourne Golf Club – Tranquillity at last!

When I think of Ashbourne and sport, the first thing I think of is Shrovetide Football, what a sport!! 2 teams consisting of hundreds of players fighting over a ball, running, kicking and many scrums. When someone scores a goal, they’re lifted high up on the shoulder of one of his team mates and carried around to applause! It’s generally chaos!

In complete contrast, up on the hill, high above the village sitting in tranquillity, is Ashbourne Golf Course, where it’s anything but chaos! A place where you’ll see no fighting, running, kicking or scrums, and only rarely will anyone be paraded around on someone’s shoulders (this is usually after a hole-in-one, or a particularly good committee meeting!)

For me, it’s the tranquillity that draws me to a round of golf. Just a couple of good friends, the open fairways and peace and quiet. Away from work, away from the troubles of life! And being a fair-weather player too, our trip to Ashbourne Golf Course on one of the best days of the year so far was something to truly look forward to!

The first thing you notice about the course is the location (Sounds obvious I know!). It sits high up above the village and looks out over some of the best views you’re ever going to see, stretching far out  into the Peak District. On a clear, sunny day it’s truly breath-taking!

The course eases you in gently with the first few holes being pretty flat, a big dogleg left on the first hole is a bit tough to judge if its your first time at Ashbourne. It’s a little bit of a “hit and hope” hole unless you’ve played before.

As you turn onto the 3rd hole the course begins to reveal its true colours. A long par 3, lined with trees and with a big right-to-left sloping fairway, that also falls away down to the smallish green. It’s a tough hole that easily has the potential to ruin your card before you’ve even got going. Sadly there really isn’t a safe way to play the hole, it’s green or bust from the tee!

This hole sets the tone, as you start playing your way up and down the fairways, each hole either rising or falling in front of you. Personally I’m a big fan of courses like this, I get a little bored if the course is flat. The extra challenge at Ashbourne of judging the length of your shot really adds to the challenge of playing there, whether an amateur or professional. Deciding whether a 100 yard shot is sand wedge or an 8 iron depending on if you’re facing the Eiger or the precipice! And this course has those sorts of shots in abundance (although without a buggy I might not be quite as enthusiastic!).

The 6th hole is a great example of this, a 152 yard par 3 steeply up hill, with the green sloping steeply towards you. There’s a big bank at the back of the green to catch anything too big like mine, but two putting from above the hole is a huge challenge. Landing below the hole is ideal, but incredibly tough to do.

The 10th hole may lead you to think “the front 9 were hilly, I’m glad its flattening out now”! Don’t be fooled, the 11th is right back in the vein of the first 9. The fairway slopes down and steeply to the right. Land on the hill on the right and you’re in trouble and go right and it’s out of bounds. The only option is to land on the fairway, but with that sloping strongly to the right, you’re not guaranteed to be safe either.

My favourite hole on the course has to be the 12th. A long iron downhill (no surprise there!) will leave you laying up before a large pond, you flirt with danger as you see how close you dare get. The closer you are the easier the next shot. Then you have another iron over the water, up the hill (again no surprise) onto the green. It’s not the hardest hole to play, but it’s a great challenge and a fantastic hole.

After playing your way through the hills, the last few holes are back on the flat as your work your way back to the club house, with a fantastic closing hole. A dogleg right from the tee leaves the decision as to how greedy you’re going to be. I suppose this depends on your card really, protect your score or go for the big finish. Your second is approaching the green with water and the club house to your left. So a good finish is a must especially on a sunny day when the members are outside enjoying the sun watching you return home.

Without the buggy I reckon I’d have felt as if I’d played in the Shrovetide match, but as it was we had a fantastic round. The green’s rolled beautifully, the fairways were all in fantastic condition. You may not be able to guarantee the weather, but this course will never let you down. On a clear, sunny day, it really is a fantastic place to play.  Newby

Rufford Park – Clear and Beautiful

When County Golfer was launched in 1999 we visited Rufford Park Golf and Country Club and played the course on a sunny summers day. Since then the course and facilities have just grown and improved tremendously.  Sadly my golf hasn’t matched that progress.  A nine on the first hole destroyed my confidence immediately. I shouldn’t have gone off the white tees. It could have been an 8. Stalwarts that we are I battled on and started to put my game together, eventually producing some good shots. 

As is normal when I play with my good friend Brian, who I hadn’t seen for ages, we talk a lot and take in the views around us, catch up on health and family issues,  put pen to paper on the immediate  impressions of the course and then start concentrating on the game by about the third hole.

That is the problem when writing a report, the golf suffers. However I can’t blame my nine at the first on any of that, it was pure bad shots that took me way off, right into the trees and long rough. I would have got out better if the rough wasn’t so long but I would be a hypocrite if I moaned about it as I’m an advocate of leaving the rough, rough. What could be nicer than long wispy  grass blowing in the breeze? So it’s over to me to accept blame.

Arriving at Rufford park always makes me think of hiring a log cabin by a lake somewhere in Scotland, such is the design of the clubhouse, blending gently into the surrounding countryside. Over the years extensions have been sympathetically added to keep up with the demands of the modern day golfer even including a meeting room that can  be hired for business meetings. The smart new changing rooms nestled under the main function room provide all the mod cons that we expect.

Drinking coffee in the bar with Director of Golf James Thomson, he explained with great enthusiasm how the course, which he came to work at when it opened in 1994, “has a thriving full membership which has grown dramatically over the past three years”. The initiative to encourage the 27-37 yr old bracket to join has paid off dividends giving the club a ‘young’, feeling. Golf societies find Rufford an ideal place to book for a great day out too. Members like to see their club progress and that has constantly happened. We could see, as we played, that work on improvements was taking place without disrupting the flow of golfers. We had a cheery wave from one of the greenkeepers as he saw Brian sink a long put. Why didn’t he wait to see mine?  It was far better!

The trees that were planted back in 1994, on a pretty bare landscape, are now mature and have, in some cases needed thinning out, thereby allowing the course to get light and air plus opening up vistas of the surrounding countryside. There are great views of Rufford Abbey from most parts of the course. I especially loved the view from the fourth tee.   However we don’t go to a golf club to admire the views do we? Er, I do.  It’s part and parcel of the day for me. James accompanied us to the tee giving us a brief overview and then said “I’ll leave you guys to tee off in peace” that’s nice because I hate being watched as I mess up on the first. Mind you he did shout and tell Brian where his ball had landed. So,he was watching after all. Part of the fun of golf isn’t it?

Teeing off at the first we saw plenty of wildlife milling around on the dipping fairway below. Why aren’t they over there by the lake I thought.  After my first shot I bet they wished they had been. When James explained the first hole I got the impression that he thought we would make it to the bunkers with our first shot but that didn’t happen. I leave hitting it that far to him. You can’t show off too soon I feel so I contented myself in going off to the right into the trees. The last time I played I went left so next time it will be down the middle. Not wanting to show me up Brian carded a 6. He played his usual steady game no rushing, plenty of club choice and shot thought. We weren’t in a comp though just out to enjoy the course which was good because no one was following us.

The greens at Rufford were in superb condition showing that the new irrigation system is paying dividends, especially since we have had a dry spell. The “rain in the past week was much needed for the fairways” James said. Whatever the new Head Greenkeeper, Paul Hill, is doing we approve heartily as the greens are as true as you can get. The first green was pretty tricky as I went past the flag by 20 feet and had to putt back down the slight slope without going past the flag. Brian was onto the back of the green for 3 but over-hit his putt which rolled down the slope. It cost him dearly, hence the 7.  Having had a disastrous start the “Two Putt Plant’ came into force narrowly avoiding double figures. Curse that wispy grass!

Emerging through the trees we came to the 2nd a lovely 491 yard Par 5 (off yellows) gives you another chance to open your shoulders getting to the dogleg right. Having been disappointed with my first tee shot I got the driver out – nothing to lose now. I’ve avoided using this club as I have felt out of control with it recently settling for steady irons. Obviously that didn’t work on the first so why not swap? I actually hit it well. Why is golf so fickle? I caught the ball well the third but swung to the left “head up” said Brian. I ignored that because annoyingly I knew it,  My second shot just had the ball teetering  on the edge of the bunker up the slope. Brian’s drive had crossed the road. Don’t you just hate that?!  The green here was again tricky but true. My ball ran on too far but at least I could get a chip back and landed with three feet off the hole. No par again on this stroke index 18 but at least I was playing much better.

The 4th gives knock out views over to Rufford Abbey, we stood ages taking it all in, the peace and quiet and the fact we had no pressures. We both got bogeys here and I was so relieved to see my putt go in. The 5th looks a simple par 3 but we both made hard work of it making recovery shots necessary and carding a bogey. The problem was the trees on the right. Brian hit the nearest but then played a cracking shot through the trees onto the green.  I hit the tree furthest away and had to play over the bunker onto the green. I slipped slightly over the edge but a chip to within three feet of the hole saw me safe and in. At 6 the views came in again. Can’t beat it. A straight drive is required and as usual Brian just kept plugging away at driving straight. My score card says 5 but I must admit I can’t quite see how I did it, but I must have, because Brian said “your honours here mate” as we approached the 7th tee.

Holes 7 and 8 have changed for the better improving the flow of golf. We can now walk to each tee without having to backtrack or wait for other golfers to tee off. The new elevated tee on the 8th is brilliant, however, I read the sign wrong and aimed  my drive to the right of the bunker thinking the hole was over there. I’m still convinced the map on the tee shows a straight hole  and not a dogleg left. I won’t be shifted on that one no matter what I’m told!! That’s my excuse for a 6 and I’m sticking to it.


I was now getting the feel of my 4 and 5  irons and hitting well off the smooth fairways. I wasn’t going massive distances but at least they were safe. A 7 iron out of the bunker here saw me with a safe approach to the green and a nice tidy 5. We had played so far in the dry but the clouds gathered again as we teed off on the 9th.  Brian’s second shot saw him facing downhill into the valley below, needing to play down and then up onto the green I managed to get to the very left edge narrowly avoiding the bunker by a yard. I putted up to the hole and then sunk it for a 5. I was so happy with the last 4 holes after such a poor start and average middle bit.

We decided at this point to stop at the clubhouse for lunch a hearty portion of steak and ale pie with chunky chips.  They’re famous for their food here and at two for a tenner you just can’t go wrong.  It’s worth more. I know golfers will hate me for saying that but when was the last time you went to a restaurant  and got such a plateful of good food for a fiver. It beats me why golfers complain. The  staff make it a treat to be there too. Believe it or not there are some clubhouses where  the staff are pretty miserable  but not here it’s a really friendly place.

At this point the skies opened and it chucked it down and stayed that way for the rest of the day so sadly it was the end of our round as we didn’t want to get the camera wet!! We are invited back anytime to do holes 10-18 and will definitely take James up on that offer. Note: In this article I’ve intentionally avoided any reference to Robin Hood. Things like ‘my shot went like an arrow’,  ‘the view made me quiver ‘ ‘or jokes like ‘is there a Friar in the Abbey’. No it’s in the kitchen.’ ‘We tucked into our lunch’. They would just be stupid.  So I have contented myself knowing that I have avoided sinking so low. I couldn’t avoid using the word ‘green’ though!

Our thanks for all at Rufford for a great day. GP and BW

Chevin – Up up up and away!

I would say that Chevin Golf club is one of our better courses in the area, and certainly one of the most picturesque, as the course winds its way up and down with cracking views towards Derby and beyond. If you talk to some local golfers this puts them off playing here because it is quite a walk, I always thought that this is the reason they play golf, not because of the golf, trust me I have seen them play! This now is not a problem, because the club has invested heavily in brand new golf buggies,which is a game changer for them. I’m sure a lot of you reading this will now take advantage of this new investment as we did, and I can assure you we reviewed this course on one of the hottest days of the year but came off the course not shattered like the last time we played here.

Along with the addition of golf buggies, Chevin has also invested in new mowing equipment. This has made the biggest change of all in our eyes, the definition between rough, edge of green and the greens themselves is to be applauded. Also they have employed a new golf manager, Andy Mellor from St Austel, who we met in the club house after the round, we were impressed with his driving ambition and passion for the club.

So all in all Chevin have all the right pegs in the right places, so the only thing to do now is get onto the course to play. Newby was my playing partner today and we took full advantage of  having buggies and stocked up on golf balls and water from the very well stocked pro shop. The first is a steady hole to get you warmed up, a 349 par 4. The fairway is forgiving, so for your first tee shot of the day there is not much to worry about even with my slice!

From this point you will start working your way very quickly up the hill creating some tough up hill shots, but also some cracking holes. One of these holes you ‘will or will not enjoy’ is the stroke index 1, hole number 3 simply called “The Hill”. From the tee it looks quite a straight forward shot but what you don’t realise is that the second is an uphill shot onto a blind green. To hit the green in two would require a lot of skill and a bit of luck. I walked away with double bogie and was happy with that as it is a potential card wrecker.

The bonus I think, of having a course built on a hill is that it creates some cracking par 3’s, so after being humbled by the 3rd you get relief on the next hole. “The Spinney” is a par 3 at 124 yards long. Basically on this hole hit the green first time, as anything to the right of it will roll off into the trees.  Anything short will more than likely go into the bunkers guarding the front. Both Newby and I hit the green and walked away with pars. Even though I was a good way from the hole I did rattle it for a par, this is the beauty of investing in new cutting equipment as the greens were stunning, the ball ran fast and true the way I like them.

On the front 9 you get two par 3’s that follow each other, the 6th being a long 228yards while the 7th is 124yards, the 6th is a trick shot especially if you have not played it before as it’s a blind tee and the fairway slopes up away in front of you. It’s really deceiving but not that far. I wrongly used a driver and managed to hit the back of the green and out of bounds.  A well struck wood will see you get near if not on the green. I learned a lesson there. The green itself has a green moat around the front and a steep bank at the back so you do have a good chance of hitting short and rolling onto the green which Newby did.

Let’s move onto one of the most talked about holes amongst Derbyshire Professionals. Why you might ask, especially as this hole has no bunkers on it, easy!!

It’s called “Tribulation” for a reason. If you are playing in a competition this hole is always at the back of your mind, it will not forgive a wayward drive. OOB down the right and left on this tight fairway that slopes away left and right, you have to hit the middle. After doing this, it’s all up hill. A difficult uphill 2nd shot to a green that has OOBs on the right, and over the wall at the back of the green is challenging too. Both Newby and I found the OOB and nearly took a woman out walking her dog, who got revenge on us by popping the said golf ball in it’s mouth and  running off with it…The dog not the woman! If you come off hole with a par, pat yourself on the back as you managed something that most pros cannot do.

You really are now starting to climb. The 9th is called “The Beacon” you will see why when you stand on the green, the views are stunning. I will now hand over to Newby who will carry on the story as it’s my turn to drive the buggy, Lefty.


I can’t remember any of that happening Lefty! Especially the birdie!! 😉

And on with the round as we continued to climb on the 10th hole, an interesting driving hole, where you have to circumnavigate three fairway bunkers with your drive. Laying up short is an option, but one that leaves you a 175yd  minimum approach shot, as a higher handicapper I’d go for this all day long. A 5 on your card here is not a bad result at all.

The 11th hole really starts messing with your mind, not so much the golf, but more the fact that you’re going up hill still! Surly an 18 hole golf course going up and down a hill will have 9 holes going up and 9 down. How are we still climbing on the 11th? What’s about to happen? Does the club provide oxygen or should I have brought my own? How steep are the remaining 8 holes? Spoiler alert! The answer comes at the 17th. But for now the par 3 11th is a lovely little hole, with a massive 2 tier green, hit the wrong one and a 3 is a very good score.

And so the descent begins!

Starting with a drive, with a little slice I sent one flying over the two bunkers on the left and round into the middle of the fairway of the 12th, my best drive of the day by far. The additional distance due to a good tail wind, playing down hill and a thin altitude (Maybe the last one is an exaggeration, but it is high!). The green is surrounded by bunkers, with just a small opening to play through if you land short, which unless you approach from the right is incredibly tough. Then comes the views, and what views they are too. I’ve yet to play a course that can match Chevin for the incredible sights from some of their tees. Words cannot describe how good they are, fortunately the camera can! The view from the Ladies on the 13th cannot be beaten, take a look even if you are not going to play it.

The sweeping holes back down the course continue, with the par 3 14th  being a stand out hole, where precision is key. It’s less than 150 yards, but miss left and you have nothing to do but hope it either sticks above the bunker or, if you’re longer hope it rolls down, go right and… well yeah, you’re in trouble. You’ll finish at least 20 feet below the green and a 4 is a good score.

Earlier I mentioned the 17th as being the hole where you eventually end up back playing on the flat. It’s a hole that seems to have divided opinion with some of the members really not liking it. Here’s my opinion for what it’s worth. It’s a good hole! Standing so elevated above on the tee, you have to drive down the hill, but not so far as to reach the brook or rough. Then the approach to the green is a big uphill iron over the brook. If your drive is left or right of the fairway, the bottom of the hill determines how big your approach will be, varying by at least 50 yards. It’s a real challenge, yes it still looks a little open and new, but it will mature, the trees will grow, when you have a buggy it’s not that tough to walk down. I like it!

But then again I like the whole course, it is mature, well laid out, a real challenge. Add all that to the improvements they have made to the condition of the course with the new equipment, it’s now a genuinely top course. With the buggies you no longer have to be Edmund Hillary to get the most out of the course as well. All in all, over the past year, the club have taken another big step forward.

Oakmere – Constant Improvement

GP. From the outside Oakmere Park seems to have it all. A splendid countryside location with a heathland landscape and sandy base, 27 holes and 36 tees of golf, driving range, excellent practice facilities and FootGolf too, all complimented by modern styled and extensive 19th hole charms. But no, being this good clearly isn’t enough, the staff, committee and members alike have aspirations to raise the bar much higher and the club are investing a cool £1million to do just that.

So, what does the future hold at Oakmere Golf Club?

Let Daryl explain…

DSJJ. There are 5 phases for the future plans of Oakmere.
Phase 1 is to install the latest ‘state of the art’ Toro irrigation system to cover all 36 holes of golf, practise facilities and some fairways.
Phase 2 is to re-landscape all of the Admirals course holes to become a Mackenzie & style/design golf course with new bunkering and green surrounds.
Phase 3 is to change the layout, length and configuration of the Commanders Course to make it a shorter easier test of golf.
Phase 4 is to build 4 new holes on the Admirals Course and extend 4 others.
Phase 5 is to build a 9 Hole par 3 academy course.

Phase one was completed last year. Phase 2 has seen 12 of the 18 holes greens, surrounds and fairway bunkers completed over the last 3 winters. 2 Holes of Phase 4 have also already been built and will come in to play next year, and  the other 2 are planned to be done next winter.

The idea put forward to the club by Golf course Architects Mackenzie and Ebert was to present a rugged inland links look to the Admirals layout. In doing so, natural fescue grasses will be encouraged to flourish and although this will all take time, the finished results will be something else. Mackenzie & Ebert are best known for their work in re-designing Turnberry, Royal Troon and Port Rush among many other famous locations across the world.

The final changes to The Admirals Course are due for completion in 2018. This will keep Championship length and standard but will level out the two nines a little more than they currently sit and also take away a pair of uphill par threes. No effect to current playing conditions and all 18 holes have remained open as these changes take place.

As for The Commanders Course, Mackenzie and Ebert made the point in their survey that it should be made significantly easier to play, becoming the intermediate course, a friendlier examination for the greater good of Oakmere Park. Plus the extra space created by the changes will be used for the starter course, a brand new par 3 layout, sitting in close proximity to the clubhouse. This new layout has been completed and has been very well received by the members with 2 new excellent finishing holes to the round.

This would result in Oakmere Park being able to provide a complete pathway into the game, from range and putting green to the Par 3, to the development of a full game on The Commanders and then on to The Admirals. A total commitment from the club to encourage the local population to get into golf, and in doing so, securing the club a bright long-term future.

Not forgetting also that the improvement in quality and looks once complete will give Oakmere Park the tempting possibility of competing on a level playing field with the traditionally higher ranked Notts heathland trio just across the way.

GP Not just content in upgrading both courses but in the space created by altering the Commanders layout they have been able to add a further 9 FootGolf holes which has now made Oakmere the only 18 Hole FootGolf facility in the county and one of the only dedicated FootGolf courses (not part of a golf course) in the Midlands. This new sport hasn’t wained in popularity and has not only brought new clients and revenue stream to the complex but they are also hosting the Notts Open on Sunday 13th August. The FootGolf facility has brought a new wave of youngsters to Oakmere who not only enjoy FootGolf but have become involved in taking golf lessons on the range and playing golf. These youngsters would probably never have visited a golf course previously but now these barriers have been taken away they’ve embraced golf as well.

So, how does the course play? On the following pages Fame Tait gives County Golfer her report by playing nine holes of the Admiral and Commanders Courses on the same day.