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.

Matlock – Just Below The Mist

County Golfer has for the past couple of years been trying to review Matlock Golf Course, but kept getting told “No, we are not ready for you yet!” In the words of Christian, the Club Pro, “We are on a two year project to return the course back to having a moorland feel about it.”

They have done this by lowering the cut of the whole course from the rough to the greens, and encouraging the moorland heather and the gorse bushes to return. So when we got the call to say that they were ready for us and that the course is the best it’s been for years, the golf bags were in the boot quicker than the boss could say “is it not your day to cover the office?” Matlock Golf Course is positioned on the east side edge of the Peak District; high on the hills looking across the historical Derwent Valley with the Bentley Brook meandering through the course.

Newby and Stav were down to review the course but after Newby retired with his dodgy hips yours truly Lefty was parachuted in to take over. Newby had very kindly got a par for me on the 2nd par 3  before he retired, so it would only be fair if I carried on in the same vein. I got to warm up on the 3rd  479 yard par 5, I watched a couple of members tee off and both of them went up the right of the fairway, and I could see why as the fairway slopes right to left. If you don’t push it up the right far enough your ball will roll down into the rough, both Stav and I followed their lead. Now, if you are a big hitter you could go for the green in two, but as I’m not, I got myself within a wedge of the green which was the right option as I got a par. Well Newby did set the standard.

Standing on the 4th par 3,165yard, both Stav and I were having a right moan, because looking down to the green off the tee you could see that it sloped left to right giving no chance of the ball sticking on the green. “Why make a green like this we said?” Surely you have to give golfers a chance if they play a good shot and  not make it so that if you hit the green your ball rolls off! Both Stav and I hit the green, and as you can guess, the balls both rolled off. I was having a right chunter on the way to the green, and then I realised the green is actually flat; it was an optical illusion caused by sloping hills making it look like the green sloped. So actually it was just my bad tee shot; no excuses!

It does take you about 3 holes to get your eye in and get used to the terrain. This is evident especially on the 5th. Christians own words are, “A tough hole that has been the ruin of many a promising score card.” What makes this hole a potential card wrecker is first, you must clear about 150 yards of rough that drops into a deep gully. Clearing this still leaves a long uphill approach. Reaching the green can very easily lead to the ‘3 putt walk of shame’ both Stav and I walked off with a 7! Don’t worry though, that’s only the stroke index 3!   Hole 6 is the stroke index 1. You do find that on most of the holes you need a good tee shot to avoid the rough. So if you are starting out in this game, I would suggest you visit their new driving range before you hit the course. The 6th is a good example of what I’m talking about; only a good tee shot will do here. There is a lot of heavy rough off the front of the tee. Then you must navigate from an undulating fairway to a narrow elevated green. If you walk away with a bogey you have played it well.


Now you might at this point be thinking “blinking heck! This course sounds tough.” It’s not if you stay on the fairway; this is a thinkers course. Sometimes the driver is not the right option. This course makes you think hard about how you’re going to play each hole before you tee off. Stav and I had many an in depth conversation , standing on the tee discussing the best way to play and which club to use; it makes you focus on the golf. Don’t get me wrong, you do have some holes you should be parring. The14th is one of these. It’s a short par 4 only 255 yards; it’s a blind tee shot to the green but you can drive it. If you have never had an eagle before then this hole will give you your best chance.

Matlock makes good use of the hills. A good example of this is a cracking par 3, hole 10; you could say it’s their signature hole, certainly a strong contender. You stand on a high, elevated tee with a shot across a ravine of ferns, heather and gorse to a green that’s cut into the hillside with bunkers front right and side left. It’s a cracking hole and if played right will become one of your favourites. I must mention that Stav went off the back of the green but chipped in for a birdie; funnily enough it’s Stavs favourite hole on the course! The back 9 uses the hills well, giving you some cracking views off the tee, especially when the cloud came down leaving whisps of it in the valley.

Overall Matlock Golf Course is somewhere special. The work carried out has vastly improved the playing conditions and it is well on its way to becoming a moorland course that will have you using your full arsenal of clubs. If you have not played Matlcok GC before then I would advise you to get a four ball together, hire a buggy and enjoy this corner of Derbyshire. It will give your golf a fair challenge and leave you wanting to come back to see if you could better your score. Card Wrecker the 5th at 403yards (Sally Gunnell will not help you here). Signature hole 10th par 3 (clouds kissing the hill behind the green, elevated tee looking down on the green, picture perfect). Cracking driving hole 17th par 4 (it’s all down hill from this tee to the green).

Ormonde Fields Golf Club

When I was 16, like many people, I started playing at the usual municipal courses, Tapton and Grassmoor.  As, during the 90s, there was very little choice for the non member. However on one Saturday afternoon, we decided to venture further afield and play Ormonde Fields Golf course. My memories: The first hole was quite interesting, one of the fairways had a pylon in the middle of it and to be honest that was it! It made very little impression on me however, 15 years of development later would the course make a bigger impression?

Myself and Badger couldn’t have landed on a better day. Crisp, cool but bright and sunny, perfect for golf. After a quick chat with the pro we set off on the first, a cracking opening hole, the big pond on the left of the fairway guarding the green can be taken out quite simply by a good drive down the fairway. The 2nd shot is a real challenge, right drops you down a slope into the trees, short leaves you a blind chip, long is a bunker and left (the direction I chose to go) water … not the greatest opening hole for myself. Thankfully Badger, although short on his tee shot played a cracking 2nd into the green and walked away with a par. The second for me was one of the tougher holes on the course, no matter how good your first shot is, your second will always be blind into the green. Maybe as a member you will know the green layout and the bunker to the right of the green, however as a visitor like myself and Nathan it was more a hit and hope shot. If you go into the trees on the right though you will still have to chip out and play a blind shot up to the green again.


You get a real feeling that the course has been there for many years with established trees, no two holes feel the same and the green keeping staff clearly have a long time to learn how to get the best out of the fairways. To say we were playing towards the end of the season, the greens and the fairways were in good condition. The greens were soft enough to attack whilst still giving a good true roll.

The seventh hole par 5 gives you one of the best birdie opportunities on the course, 440 yards and pretty straight, the green is reachable, with two good shots. Even with a wayward first shot, your downhill second can still leave you with an eagle putt. Neither myself nor Badger played particularly well today but on a beautiful sunny afternoon out on a golf course you can never get too down about your game.

The fifteenth was probably my favourite hole on the course titled Crich View, as you stand on the first tee you can see Crich Stand visible along the horizon on a clear day. You strike a big drive down the valley and if you have a slice like myself you’ll bring it round into the fairway leaving you a second uphill shot, leaving it short on your second is not an option, as the slope will bring the ball back towards you at an alarming pace.


By the time we played the par 3 sixteenth Badger was three shots up on me, and despite the fact that neither of us were playing that well, our competitive edges meant that the scores still mattered no matter how embarrassing they were turning out to be. We both stuck it on the green and it was all down to the final two. The seventeenth is a daunting hole and the best on the course, you have no idea where the green is when you play the tee shot and the pond on the left which you very much play means you have to be accurate with your drive. Sadly I wasn’t and pretty much handed the game to Badger. The 2nd shot is incredibly difficult because of the slope on the fairway, which carries all the way to the green. Simply put, stay right or you’ll be in trouble. The par for Badger and a 7 for me meant that Badger took the honour for the day.

The final par 3 and I was playing nothing more than pride (though with my score being as bad as I can remember) I didn’t have a lot of that left neither!

As we sat in the clubhouse eating burgers and drinking beer, the only way to finish a round of golf, we reflected on how the course was really like nothing we’d ever played. It is incredibly hard to compare it to anything in the area. It is mature and has an amazing variety of holes from short and tight to big and open.

The first time I played the course 15+ years ago it made very little impression. How it has changed.


Allestree Park Golf Club

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.​