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.