Ramsdale – Something for everyone

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m a fair-weather golfer and I hate playing in the rain or cold. To me golf is a summer game to be played in the heat and in the sunshine! Just as it always seems to be on the TV.  However… having said all that, 90 degrees and not a cloud in the sky has its drawbacks too. But on this stunningly hot day when we visited Ramsdale, they have this rare eventuality (in this country anyway) well covered.

3 weeks into a heatwave and no rain forecast for another few weeks, has been a nightmare for golf courses around the counties. The sprinkler systems have been working overtime to try and feed the greens and tees, but sadly it’s not possible to water all the fairways on a course, so Ramsdale are in the same fight as everyone, a fight against yellow grass!

The front and back nine are like chalk and cheese. The opening holes are pretty flat and easy going, with a good score possible. The 1st and 2nd hole are both par 4s and only a little over 300 yards, so a good start is possible in theory. That is, if you’re able to avoid the very well placed bunkers.

The 1st is a dogleg left, with 2 bunkers on the corners that need a 190 yard carry to clear, or go safe with an iron and you’ll still be looking at a wedge in. Alternatively like me, you could go for an Iron and still land in a bunker!

Local knowledge goes a long way on the 5th hole. Reading the course planner only partially prepares you for the hole, 296 yards and a par 4 that has a virtual 90 degree right turn. Again, the bunkers are very well placed, too right, too left, too short and you’ll probably find one. Spence took an iron to the corner and placed it perfectly, but was quite annoyed that he hadn’t taken it on after seeing the hole from his new perspective. I took on the corner, but didn’t get enough height on it, and clipped the tree. This probably did me a favour as it took enough distance off it to avoid the bunkers! Two pars!

The 6th hole par 3 messes with your mind a little, at 117 yards it’s not the longest but with bunkers, lots of rough and water, it has it all.  It’s a “this should be easy” hole, hit the green first time and it is, miss it and you’ll struggle.

As you finish the relatively flat and meandering front 9 you’re greeted with the sooo welcome site of the halfway house hatch! As much as we were enjoying the course, the beating sun was taking its toll and we were beginning to flag.

Now I’ve seen Spence eagle a par 4 at Royal St George’s, but I’ve never seen as big a smile on his face as when he reappeared from the hatch with two cold lagers in his hand. It took all our effort not to down it in one and go straight back for another. But being ultimate professionals, we kept it to 1, which we took up the hill to the 10th tee to enjoy.

The back nine changes this course completely, you start up high and play along the top of a hill, which gives you some stunning views over Nottinghamshire and back over the front 9. It feels like a completely different course.

The 9th is so open and so inviting to smash as big a drive as possible. A sliced drive and 2 poor iron shots left me in a shockingly bad position and facing an 8 or 9 on my score card for the first time in ages. With a long putt back down the green I was able to rescue a 9. Thank goodness I hadn’t had the second pint! I’d probably have ended up well into double figures. Spence on the other hand played it like a pro, down the fairway, onto the green to putt, the first of 3 straight pars. My suggestion to him, “if you’re handicap is to come down, your beer consumption needs to go up!”

The dry weather has led to harder fairways and more roll on your drives, this is never more evident than on the 12th. A big straight drive down hill will roll and roll. Even a short driver will get 250-300 yards on this hole, and you’ll only need a short iron onto the green to finish.

The hard fairways were really rewarding good straight drives, but they can also create their own challenges. The 13th for example. With a decent drive you’re left with a sloping fairway left to right on to the green. It’s a par 5 so you have 2 efforts. I hit a good 3 wood with my second shot, pitching it to the left of the fairway. I caught it as well as any 3 wood I’ve ever hit. But as soon as it pitched, it bounced right… a lot! A soft fairway would have probably caught it and left me on the right of the fairway, but not today. It rolled and rolled and gathered speed right into the rough. Rescuing a 6 was a huge relief.

The poster hole of the course has to be the 15th, a high elevated tee looking down to a pristine fairway is as enjoyable drive as I’ve played this year. With just a small bunker catching anything short and right, it’s as safe a drive as you’ll find. Catch it just right and you’ll watch it sail high and up to the wide-open fairway.

Another beer, burger, chips and Denmark vs France on the TV was the perfect end to the round. Ramsdale is a great example of a modern golf course. It has a good 18 hole course, an additional 18 hole par 3 course, which is great for young ones, beginners or just those looking to sharpen up their short game. And, for a bit of fun, an 18 hole pirate themed adventure golf course. Add to that a great restaurant, bar and very well stocked golf shop, Ramsdale has all you’ll need for a golfer of any ability.

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.

Bulwell Forest – A Course For All Seasons

What a winter we have had it just does not want to go away, never mind using a golf buggy on the course, a boat would have been more appropriate to get around! There is only a hand full of local courses that can take such a battering from the awful weather we’ve had, and one of these is Bulwell Forest, built on sand stone this course drains really well and thank goodness for that because at the time of writing this I still had not swung a club in 2018!

Let’s get to the point, this course is a lot better than you may first imagine, on first impressions you might think it’s not in the best position against a ring road and a large housing-estate, but you would be wrong to think that because this is the original Nottingham Club and I just love the layout. You have some majestic tee shots and some cracking par 3s to test the very best golfer, theses vary from 93yards to 200 yards.

The Club house benefitted from a refurbishment a few years ago, and they serve a good breakfast and nice pint too. The pro shop will keep you stocked up on balls, chocolate bars and water. This is a very friendly club and relaxed, just the type of course to invite your mates to, especially those that haven’t played in a while. So instead of a hole by hole review, I’ll introduce you to some that I think you’ll enjoy.

You will find there is no par 5 on the front for men and just one for the ladies. The first few holes 1-3, are the ones to help you get warmed up, they’re quite forgiving and you stand a good chance of getting a par on at least one of these. Hole 4 is 255 yards and a par 4. Even though it’s stoke index 16, if you have a slight slice or draw from your tee shot it will leave you a lot to do. Why? Because down the right is out of bounds and down the left are dense trees. To make this a little bit more difficult there are a couple of trees in about 100 yards blocking your straight shot to the green, forcing you to go left.

Put it this way – I walked off with a 7 and Newby a 5 – it could have been a lot worse. Moving on to hole 7, this is a very short par 3, 93 yards uphill. Directly behind the back of the green is a large netting to stop you hitting it onto the road. I always struggle with really short holes, I’m either hitting it way too far or way too short! Newby opted for a 9 iron and a gentle swing which looked like it hit the green. I opted for the same and it looked like mine did also. When we got up there Newby had managed to find a hole in the net! I managed just to cling on and a gentle tap with the sand wedge left me an easy putt for a par. Basically a pitching wedge would suffice. This is the start of 2 of my favourite holes, the 8th a 325 par 4, this is what I call a driving hole. An elevated tee looking down onto a sweeping fairway which goes to the right. For you right handers it should be an easy shot, but for us ‘lefty’s’ with a bit of a slice it could end up on the next fairway. In true Lefty style this is exactly what I did. I had to play my second shot from the 12th fairway. The green on the eighth is massive, so fortunately for me my second shot landed on the green but still left me a 40-foot putt. Now we start to climb back up – the 9th, 311 yards par 4 / index 2. Don’t get caught out on this hole like I did, it’s all about your second shot. It looks, from standing on the fairway, that the green is closer than it is, when in fact it is a lot further back, on a hill. So, do not under club! If I had known this I probably would have got a par.

The back 9 really vary from hole to hole. A good example of this is the 10th, which is a blind uphill tee shot with your second shot having to go over a big dip and hit an elevated green. You have to be accurate and hit it with a lot of power. Not many will walk away with a par on this one. As you get to the 15th the course opens up again giving you the opportunity to hit big long drives which are very enjoyable to play.

The 17th is another cracking par 3, it’s a good old way at 200 yards again so you need to crank up the power. The course finishes with a gentle par 4 winding its way back to the club house.

Over all I like Bulwell Forest, it’s a course I could quite happily play every week, the green keepers do a cracking job of keeping it in great condition despite the locals (some of whom don’t seem to appreciate what a lovely oasis of green this is!) in fact when you play here you get the sense that this is like the start of Hollinwell in some places. If you were looking to become a member of a club then you’re going to be hard set to find a friendlier place and this course offers real value for money.

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

Bulwell Forest

There are times in life when you get quite nice surprises. Golf at Bulwell Forest Golf Club was one of those times.

Surprise 1: There are hills in Nottingham!

Surprise 2: I played my best golf for two years.

Surprise 3: Bulwell Forest is a cracking course.

Let me explain the three surprises in detail.

1: Nottinghamshire is not the hilliest county but chugging my way up an incline at Bulwell Forest came as a shock.  I suppose in theory it’s not hilly but has inclines.

2: Listening to Rod Savidge, the club Secretary describing the course as ‘tight’, I thought “it’s not the place for a driver I’ll use irons”  and that proved true.

3: The course is in fantastic condition, Newby said “the best I’ve played on this year”.

I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting to play this day as Fame was down to be part of Ladies Day but sadly she was nursing 10 stitches in her gum after a tooth extraction (not nice). So one player down and Newby and I were drafted in. Newby then picked up a (slight – aaaaah) football injury the night before, but I was up for this game.


On arriving we were greeted by Andy in the Pro shop, he was standing in for Pro Andrew Willey who was away on the day. Secretary Rod, who is moving on in the golfing industry shortly, bought us a coffee and sat and chatted filling us in on the recent developments, a new professional and Greenkeeper,  since our last visit two or three years ago.  As with any other industry things change gradually but at Bulwell the change isn’t in the form of course design, it is in improving course quality. Sitting in a tight area of land, adjoining the main road, there isn’t much room for change, but then why change when change isn’t needed. This is one well thought out course, utilising the area well. I suppose the only criticism, if you’re being extremely picky, is the 8th which shares a fairway with the 9th. This should improve though with a bit of tree trimming which was in the process of being organised which may make you adjust your tee shot to get a better approach to the 8th hole.

The course was nice and busy and we slotted in behind a 3 ball.  Having a practice on the putting area before tee off I was ready for some good competition between Newby and me.

I’ve always said that it is important to get a good score on the first hole, it sets you up for the rest of the round.  At 368 yards off yellows and stroke index 6 it should get the round off to a good start – so I took 9 shots! I was gutted. At my level getting those shots back is almost an impossibility. I really want to get my handicap down from 26. If I can be one over on every hole with the odd doubly bogey I could crack it and that’s what I did on the next 8 holes with a par thrown in on the 7th which pulled a shot back.

As I said at the outset I played really well but my scorecard didn’t reflect it. I now have a favourite club for teeing off with, a 3 iron. I absolutely love this club as not only is it giving me greater accuracy over my wayward driver, it is also giving me nice distance. I was playing golf on the fairways which I know you are supposed to do but then we are not professionals are we, a point which was emphasised as we went round the course and saw people dashing in and out of the gorse bushes (with the odd OUCH thrown in)!


The second is a nice straight 269 yard par 4 and we both made great approaches and carded bogeys.  After two holes we were starting to appreciate the quality of the greens, they’re straight and true. Just pick your line and the ball does exactly what you ask. I got a bit too confident at one stage and put the ball past a bit too far.  A couple of twenty footers went straight into the hole, one of them from off the green, such was the accuracy of the greens. The 5th I read badly and my ball slid alarmingly off to the left

Hole 3 needs a very careful shot onto the green, go too far and it will bite you in the bum as your ball scuttles off the back into treacherous rough, something which will get you on the short par 3 7th.  We were enjoying a gloriously hot June day and water was required constantly.

I was hitting straight and true now, the three iron off the tee and 4 and 5 iron off the fairways was proving a success. I was enjoying my best golf for two years. Pars were hard to come by though and 5’s were too often appearing on the scorecard even though I was really playing well. It’s always that wasted shot that gets me.

As we hit the 9th Newby was fighting the previous nights football injury but I was really up for a big finish until the 9th bit me. I was straight at it and expected to get to the green but scuffed my second making it a difficult approach between the two nastily placed bunkers. I missed those but over-hit my shot sending it off the back of the green.  A very poor chip left me with 5 shots already played, a big putt was needed and the true greens made it easy as I sunk a belter.

Looking up the 10th fairway I repeated “miss the trees on the left, miss the trees on the left” and put my ball straight into them! Brilliant. Where my ball was positioned Newby said, “you could play out safely but then again just hit and hope it goes through.” That’s easy to say! Tiger would have spent 5 minutes weighing up the pro’s and con’s. I took thirty seconds and did a ‘hit and hope’ shot which missed every tree and landed  on the fairway beautifully giving me a great approach to the green. I didn’t hit it well and ended with a 6.

On the 11th I lost my only ball of the day, quite an achievement for my first time round this tight course. My ball went screaming left off the tee into the rough and was never seen again. Catching up on this hole was impossible and I carded an 8. Then followed a rich vein of Pars even on the 14th with a great tee shot leaving me to chip to within 20 inches of the hole. The 365 yard Par 4 15th was a piece of cake(!). Two straight long irons, a chip and a putt and a Par. This game’s easy! At this point Newby, who could hardly walk, had stopped playing golf and took on the photographers role, so we headed for the clubhouse. I’m sure I could have got more Pars, but then you never know.

As we came off the course Peter Hindle the Vice Captain came and chatted to us. He was very enthusiastic about the changes and development at Bulwell Forest. From being Council owned 12 years ago the course has taken massive leaps forward.

Once in the clubhouse Debbie took our food and drink order and we sat musing over the days golf and had some friendly banter with the members. The food served here is brilliant. Hot beef cob and real chips with gravy all for £3.95 who can complain?  It’s a pity that nowadays clubhouses aren’t supported more than they are. People seem to play golf and go home. Get in the clubhouse, enjoy the camaraderie and great food . It makes the day complete.

The members here have got it made all ways up with the progressive mindset of the pro and Greenkeeper.

I admit to judging Bulwell Forest Golf Club before I played it purely on driving past and thinking of it as a small course by the main road. How wrong could I have been. The best thing is there’s room for more members and the price is very attractive. Societies and parties are welcome. We would recommend you try it.

Our thanks to all for making us most welcome. We had a great day.

Garry and Newby (Alistair).


Rufford Park

On the hottest day of the year for nine years Diana Norvock, a Fame Golf Academy member and I headed off to play Rufford Park Golf Course which first opened 21 years ago. Di only started playing golf eight months ago when she signed up for the ladies beginners group coaching sessions at Beauchief Golf Course.

Upon arrival we were kindly greeted by the professionals, James Thompson and John Vaughan who swiftly pointed us in the direction of the driving range, giving us a card for the ball machine. Needless to say we both couldn’t even manage to hit the 40 balls we had each dispensed from the machine as we were literally sweltering in the bays. I can’t believe that I took a cardigan with me in case it got a bit chilly!! The driving range was very nice and only a short walk away from the clubhouse. We loaded up with water and lucozade from the well stocked fridge in the professionals shop and made our way to the first tee resembling a pair of pack horses. We were already thinking that carrying our bags was a bad idea, however it could have been worse….we could have been at home doing housework!

The 1st hole is a 337 yard par 4 off the red tees, with a very inviting tee shot.  There was a copse of trees on the left hand side but other than that, it was a nice open fairway. I decided to take the tiger line over the left hand corner of tress and my ball was never seen again.  Di on the other hand went for the sensible option and was straight down the middle of the fairway. From there, we moved onto the 2nd, 447 yard par 5.  At this point we had an audience which comprised of two gentlemen in a buggy that were following us round so the pressure was on.  We both hit nice drives and were then faced with a few well placed fairway bunkers that we had to negotiate.  Di once again mapped her way nicely down the fairway whereas I went for the green in two and ended up in the left green side bunker.  Short siding myself at this early stage was not a good idea.


The 3rd hole offered another inviting tee shot and was a very pleasant hole to settle the nerves. By the 7th hole we were really starting to get a feel for the course and how to play it. This hole is a lovely 115 yard par 3 where you hit up to an elevated green.  Di finished short on the steep embankment, which is not recommended and I slightly over shot the green. Moving onto the 9th hole, which is SI 1 and 349 yards from the ladies tee. It looked relatively straight forward although it was the tightest hole that we had experienced so far with trees down the right hand side of the fairway.  After Di had found the trees off the tee and then made a great recovery I hit my best drive of the day coming up just short of the green.  Typical of my game, I always seem to do better on the harder holes.  That being said, I did have to negotiate a tricky pitch to a front pin placement on the elevated green.  By this time we were both ready for water, lucozade refills and a toilet stop which was perfect timing as the ninth hole brings you back to the perfectly located clubhouse behind the ninth green.

When we approached the 10th tee we were greeted by the two gentlemen that we encountered on the second tee.  After our pit stop they had slipped in front of us.  They were very gracious and asked us to continue in front of them, however, the well placed bench on the tee was a welcome break for our legs and a timely opportunity to rehydrate and contemplate our drives. The 10th hole is very picturesque with a pond down the right hand side of the fairway.  If you go to the County Golfer Facebook page you will see my drive off the tee which I was very pleased with.  I got a 4 and Di got a 5.

On the short par 4, 11th hole (268 yards) Di found herself in the left green side bunker for 3 and made a superb up and down for a 5.  By this point we were both feeling a little peckish, so thank you Simon Norvock for the flapjacks, they were delicious!

The 13th hole is the second and last of the par 5’s on the course and in comparison to the previous holes, it was a bit of a monster.  I hit driver, 3 wood and still had a short pitch into the green.  However, there is no trouble at all from the tee so with a lovely wide open fairway, which is somewhat comforting, you can really open your shoulders. The par 3 15th was one of Di’s favourite holes. It was playing slightly downwind with a central pin placement. Missing the green pin high to the right hand side, Di made a fantastic up and down for par. My ball had just rolled through to green but I was pleased with my up and down. The 17th hole is the signature hole on the golf course, a par 3 at 137 yards. You stand on a very elevated tee box looking to a beautiful green which is surrounded by water to the front and right hand side.  Before Di had teed off she expressed how she wanted to hit her ball into the water to see and hear the sound of the ball “splash” as she had never experienced this before…..I wish I could say the same!!!! While Di did what she intended to do, I hit a 9 iron onto the middle of the green and had two putts for par. The 18th provided a lovely way to finish, with only a short walk back to the welcoming clubhouse.

In summary, Rufford Park is a lovely course which was in very good condition, providing great views of Rufford Lakes and Abbey.  The staff were very warm and welcoming and the members  extremely friendly. Off the red tees it is a course which would suit ladies of any ability, even beginners. With the wide fairways and enough hazards, it provides a fair test of golf for any standard of player. It kept Di and I engaged and we had great fun.

Well done to Di for completing her first 18 holes, the first of many and a big thank you to Tony Gath and Mike Sears (the two buggy gentlemen) for the shandies after our round. It was lovely to meet you both. And in case anyone is wondering…..I didn’t need my cardigan!!


Footgolf at Oakmere Park

Does football and golf mix?

Of course they do, they’ve got lots in common. How many footballers play golf? Loads, and visa versa. Are the shoes and boot similar? Yep.  Both have clubs (ok that’s stretching it a bit),  but is there room for both on a golf course? It all depends on how things are organised doesn’t it. We went along at the invitation of Daryl St John Jones, Director of Golf at Oakmere Park to see how they had set things up.

What were we to wear? I opted for tucked in golf shirt and trousers plus a pair of normal trainers. Lefty chose a bizarre pair of tartan socks and crazy shorts. Newby also chose shorts. I got the nod of approval from Daryl – one up to me. We felt quite strange walking into a golf club in this attire. Golfers were looking at us and we wondered what was going through their minds. Things like ‘here come the dregs of society keep your heads down lads”.  We were thinking “just grow up and look to the future”. I’m sure wars have started like this.

How you blend these two mindsets together must be quite a nightmare. We love golf but we also love football and Lefty and Newby play both every week so why can’t they live side by side in one way or another.

Sitting and chatting to Daryl over a very tasty baguette and beer we quickly realised that the success of Footgolf at Oakmere is down to quite a bit of strategic planning and forethought. Do golfers want people going round their course scuffing it up? No. Do golfers want folk in football kits at the club? Not really. Can a golf club afford to ignore a growing trend and with it undoubtedly good revenue? No. Here’s an interesting fact. After every game of football the lads go for a swift half. How many golfers after a game of football go into the clubhouse for a swift half? The numbers are so disproportionate says Daryl. More people playing Footgolf support the clubhouse than your everyday golfer. Round finished, clubs in car and off.


Now with Footgolf people stick around. In fact it’s quite a sociable thing and families are involved.  So now we have a chicken and egg situation. How many fathers take their youngsters along to play golf? How many clubs in the not too distant past shuddered at the thought of junior members out on their beloved courses? Loads. So where do new members come from? Surely this is a natural trend to bring young blood in who would never visit a golf club under normal circumstances. The chance of someone playing Footgolf looking across at the course and thinking ‘I fancy that” are extremely high.

There is an additional beauty in this at Oakmere in that they have a specifically designed , SEPARATE Footgolf course and it is not only developing and being defined week by week, it is bringing in good revenue. Now if you were to tell members that this is helping keep down membership fees and food and drink costs you may be able to appease them. I say may because pleasing members can be like trying to stop a lion biting you! Nigh on impossible.

So… how did our Footgolf go? We had the funniest afternoon sport we had had for ages. Daryl joined us for the first 9 holes and he had obviously played a bit, albeit by his own admission with a bit of scepticism as to its success at Oakmere.


The 1500  yard long Par 70  course features ‘water’ hazzards waiting to catch a poor kick, side-foot or toe-poke. I was gutted that you couldn’t head the ball though! There’s six Par 3’s, four Par 5’s and obviously eight Par 4’s. There are plenty of rules including code of dress to make this sit perfectly into the structure of a golf course. Lefty and Newby still play football and they got into their stride with  obviously at times, a little too much enthusiasm in their kicking.  On the first nine Lefty won with Daryl close behind,  Newby and I were tied so we had to go to the play off hole. Annoyingly Lefty won the next nine again but we all showed a marked improvement in our scores, chipping lots of shots off.

After our match Daryl took us out in the buggies to show us the latest changes to the Admiral and Commanders golf courses. It’s refreshing to hear that Oakmere Park is not only investing in Footgolf but have a £1million investment plan for the two courses over the next four years. That’s some investment  by anyone’s standard. Oakmere have retained the services of world renowned Golf Course Architects Mackenzie & Ebert to do a re-design of both courses, change the layout, and also create a 9 hole par 3 Academy course and a new irrigation system for all 3 courses. Mackenzie & Eberts repertoire include some of the top courses in the world such as Port Rush, Royal Troon, Turnberry etc. These plans have been agreed and the first part of phase one has now been completed with holes 1,3, 5 & 11, given the full Mackenzie & Ebert makeover last winter and two brand new greens built on the Commanders course.

Daryl told us  “As Director of Golf, my job is to ensure minimal disruption to the playability of both courses whilst this work is being carried out and this objective was successfully achieved this winter. It is planned for all 18 holes of the Admirals Course to be completed and new course layout in play by 2018. The new Commanders course layout should be in play by 2017 and the par 3 Academy course open by 2019.” So for the golfer there’s plenty to be pleased about.


But what about the Footgolfers future?  It looks very bright. Footgolf  is currently taking over as the must-do children’s party destination with catering available on site. Every month there is a County order of merit competition which is open to all comers. They are also starting a summer league for teams of 4 -5 players every Tuesday. Oakmeres course is open every weekend afternoon from 3pm and school holidays. To book your kick off time phone Oakmere on 0115 965 3545

From our point of view we had a great afternoon despite a few heads down ‘ignore the plebs’ attitude from a few of the golfers but then again they had that attitude about women golfers and kids learning the game in the past. I suppose it takes time for some to ‘grow up’ and see the future.  It’s all down to who’s got the biggest balls I presume!!

(I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere!)

Following the success and popularity of Junior Coach Jamie Jarvis, Oakmere Park Golf Club have decided to support him by funding a Junior Golf initiative at Oakmere this year and if successful may continue in future years.

7 day membership for under 16’s on the Commanders Course from July to November for only £20 in total, nothing else to pay. Unlimited free golf for 4 months!

Further to this, to help these new juniors get the hang of the game Jamie will also be providing weekly beginners lessons on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and weekdays during school holidays for only £15 for 6 x 1hr lessons. Dates to be confirmed.

Naturally there will be a high demand for these membership places. Places will be offered on a first come first served basis. To apply they can either fill out a membership form at the Club or go online and hit the link below to the membership page on the website and download a membership form from there. You can then email that back to

enquiries@oakmerepark.co.uk to register.


Daryl St John Jones, the Director of Golf at Oakmere Park has said “This is a really exciting initiative that Oakmere has taken on. By offering this incentive to all kids across the counties, who knows these could be the future Lee Westwoods or Rory Mcilroys. Most kids don’t get the opportunity to play golf and especially join a golf club partly because of the joining fees but also by the golf rules in place. Hopefully this incentive will break down those barriers and make golf affordable and accessible for all juniors across the County. Hopefully once linked in to the subsidized coaching program they will progress to full membership at either Oakmere or any of the Clubs that are most local to them. Hopefully, in the future, all Clubs around the County will start an incentive like this to encourage kids to get into golf.”


Coxmoor Golf Club

At what point during your golfing career do you turn to seniors golf? What do I mean by seniors golf? Well, rather than trying to hit a 300 yard drive at every opportunity, seniors generally play a short iron down the middle of the fairway. In essence, taking more shots to the green but staying out of the rough.

Why do I ask this question? Well at the age of 34 I feel this type of golf should be a few years away, and yet at Coxmoor I was left with no choice! Due to a footballing injury, hitting the big drives was out of the question today, so how would I get on with just my irons?

As those in the County Golfer office will tell you, I don’t like to go on about my injury (Editor insert sarcastic comments here__________________) but today would non the less prove an interesting comparison between the two types of golf.

Our destination was Coxmoor Golf Club, one of the most well respected courses in the county, and after a long chat with Paul, the greens chairman and Glen, vice greens chairman, before the game you can see why. The care, attention and dedication to keeping the course in such great shape is something you can only admire. They’re not just planning for this year or next, but have a 10 year scheme in place to ensure the constant progress of the course. With monthly reports given to each member as to what works are currently being undertaken and the reasons why, this means as a member you get to not only benefit from the improvements but hopefully understand how these are made.

The new head green keeper and all his new toys have been in place now for a year, so it would be interesting to see exactly how things have moved on since our last visit. This would give us an indication not just to the progress so far but how thing would pan out for the future.

As we warmed up on the first tee I decided to get my excuses out of the way early, “I won’t be using my driver today lefty, just irons”, I declared “due my footballing injury”. Lefty, being the thoughtful caring type, paused from laughing and verbally abusing me just long enough for me to play a six iron down the middle of the fairway. It definitely wasn’t long, but at least it wasn’t in the rough and under a tree eh Lefty!

Still with nearly 200 yards to reach the green I learned that when playing seniors golf you can’t be greedy. As I hit a second iron attempting to reach the green I fell short and landed in a bunker. Had I laid up I would have had a pretty easy chip and putt.

The second par three downhill hole, is a great challenge, it’s 169 yards off the yellows and the green is surrounded by bunkers. It’s pretty much hit the green or you’re playing from sand. Both myself and Lefty chose the latter of these two, however two decent bunker shots rescued a pair of bogies.


So we came to the first par 5 of the round, a blind tee shot over a hill is not something you really want to attack with an iron. With little choice, I played a gentle four iron up and over the hill, two more iron shots later and I was on for my first par. Three holes down, I’m yet to find myself in the rough and am playing below my handicap, maybe there is something in this seniors golf lark! But then again it’s early days.

The par 4 4th is an absolutely brilliant hole, it’s a dog leg right that is probably reachable in one for the big hitters. At 300 yards it’s not huge, but boy is it fraught with danger. Naturally with an iron the sensible thing to do would be to play left to the corner and a pitching wedge on, however due to an unexpected slice it looked as if I’m on for the corner which with a 5 iron would have been rather optimistic to say the least. Fortunately landing between two trees, it still left me a reasonable chip and another par.

The seventh hole is a par 3 at just 128yrs and is their stroke index 18, playing over the road you drive in and on. It’s the kind of hole you can play over and over again, and if you overplay the tee shot and land in the rough you might just have to too!

The quality of the fairways and the greens are quite simply exceptional, the fairways are bright green and had stripes mowed in to them, giving the feel and look of a genuine Championship Course, the sort of course we’re used to seeing only on sky sports! The greens, brilliant to look at, took a little mastering. This isn’t in any way a criticism rather the opposite, they rolled so well and so quickly that for the first five or six holes we were over hitting all our putts, but once we’d mastered these, they were a enjoy to play on.

All this talk of the long rough before we played our round had taught us to be very cautious with our shots, because of this may be we weren’t playing the course exactly as it should be played, but staying on the fairways was definitely a new experience for me and one I was certainly enjoying.

The 12th hole is the stroke index one, and deserves a lot of respect. The first thing to note is that the marker in the fairway that you can see from the tee is actually on the edge of a bunker, fortunately my slice left me well clear of this, but at 370 yards up hill it takes some reaching in 2.


The par 5 13th hole has to be one of the best tee shots in the county, as you stand highly elevated above the fairway, all that goes through your mind is simply ‘I’m going to give this everything!’ Nobody has ever stood on this tee and thought “I’m just going to dink this one down the middle’, and nobody has ever hit a tee shot with 80% power. It’s just one of those holes that you have to give everything to. For the first time today the driver came out of the bag, and boom! Lefty landed slightly left of the fairway in the light rough and I landed just short of the fairway bunker but still on the fairway. There is no football injury or amount of pain that would stop me enjoying this tee shot. Two irons later and we were putting for birdies. A truly brilliant hole.

Sadly at this point I had to concede to my playing partner, as my injury got the better of me, and yes I’ll shut up about that now ed!

As lefty played the final few holes I was able to take in the real beauty of this course. With its mature trees, colourful rough and lush fairways it’s a beautiful place to play golf. The added bonus of blue skies and sunshine made the whole experience one to savour. Technically speaking I had played less shots than lefty which as all golfers know is the aim of the game and therefore claimed the victory! Lefty however challenged me “you have to play all 18 holes to register a score” I took this as no more than sour grapes and declared “no one likes the sore loser Lefty now quit your whining and get the beers in!”. These youngsters really need to be told their place by seniors like us! Now, who wants a Werthers Original?