There are 2 kinds of bad rounds of golf in life. The first is the round that you walk away from thinking “I can play better than that, I know I can, I can’t wait to get on the driving range to correct things and get back out there”. Then there’s the other type of bad, which when you walk away you think “I wonder how much of my money I’d get back for my clubs if I put them on eBay??” Or “I wonder if the club would refund me any of my membership if I was to cancel it now?”
A week before arriving at Newark I’d played a deplorable round of golf and felt very much like the latter. It had been poring with rain, I’d forgotten to take my proper waterproofs, and had a thousand and one other excuses as well!! It was so bad that I didn’t even play the last 4 holes. ‘When the enjoyment stops, stop!’ (I think that may relate to something else, but it fitted the bill pretty well!)
As much as when I’d walked off the course never wanting to see another golf club again as long as I lived, a week later I found that I was happy to go again and was even looking forward to another round. There were 4 reasons for this; 1) The pain of the previous round had worn off quite a bit. 2) The sun was shining and the sky was blue (which does make a huge difference! ) 3) My other option was staying in the office. 4) It was at Newark, a course I’d played a few times before and always enjoyed, it’s a happy memory course!
So off we trotter to Newark Golf Course to see what had changed in the past few years and to see if it still really is as good as I remembered.
As soon as you arrive at the club you are aware that this is not just your average club with average facilities. The open driving range on the left as you drive in starts to tell the story of a club that has invested well in its facilities. You then enter the club shop, a big open, light shop, well stocked with all the latest equipment. Where some club shops sometimes have a bit of a factory shop feel to them, Newark’s definitely has a more ‘high end’ clothing shop atmosphere. They also have a swing studio for a little bit of fine tuning before you go out and play. Newark even have their own app which gives you a course guide, course conditions, booking facilities, and even the food menu for the clubhouse! As I say, not your standard golf club.
We sat looking through the Course Guide on the app as we tucked into our full English breakfast before going out. It gives you a bit of an insight into the course layout before you get started, if you plan on visiting Newark I strongly recommend you download it before you go. The round we had was definitely one of 2 halves, going out was a fight to stay within touching distance of my handicap, coming back in was an absolute joy, playing 4 under my handicap even with a double bogie on the last (I got a little greedy with the corner!). The course however is a lot more consistent than I am. The fairways and greens are all in fantastic condition, last years’ drought that damaged so many courses either didn’t affect Newark, or they’ve made a quick and full recovery.
Although Newark is a relatively flat course, they’ve sculpted the bunkers, greens and parts of the fairways to give the course a flowing feel to it.
The big impression the first few holes make, are that the greens are fantastic, they’re in great condition, run smoothly, straight and are a joy to putt on. If you start putting with confidence on the first few holes it’s a great feeling for the rest of the round and can make an immense impact on your scorecard.
There are a number of holes to look out for on the course. The 8th is one of these, a par 4 at 357 yards from the yellows with a dog leg right. Taking the corner on over the trees isn’t really an option unless you’re a really big hitter. Try it and land short and there are bunkers, trees and water waiting for you… in that order. Driver or long iron up to the corner and it’ll leave a 100 yard or less approach shot into the inviting green.
The 15th is the pick of the par 3s, a hole that has not so long ago been remodelled. It’s 151yards from the yellows. The green is raised higher that the tee, with a large bunker right in front of it and another to the left. Thankfully the green is in fantastic condition and slopes towards you, so a nice high struck iron sticks beautifully to the green. The trees surrounding the green just add to the visuals.
The course has a feeling of a very well-established course, with mature trees lining most of the fairways and towering above you, dividing the fairways up nicely. The years of nurture and care given to the layout and the flow make for a fantastic course, unlike many of the newer courses that tend to have a handful of good holes padded out to 18 with ‘filler holes’. Newark is a quality course throughout and of consistent quality.
As far as ticking boxes is concerned, Newark ticks as many as is possible. Great clubhouse, great Pro shop, driving range, buggies, golf simulator and great website and app. When you add all these ‘extras’ to a mature and beautifully maintained golf course, you can see why Newark is such a popular destination for so many golfers.