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 www.erewashvalley.co.uk 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 justgiving.com 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.