TRAVELLING LADY GOLFER

P – Porthmadog

GB&I Golf Course Reviews – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf.  Full write up’s can be found on golfgurugroup blogspot or on golfgurugroup website under the Travelling Lady Golfer tab.

Look out for the daily influx of unique, quirky, amazing golf courses across the GB & I on offer.

Porthmadog Golf Club

Morfa Bychan, Porthmadog, Gwyneed, LL49 9UU

Two unique 9 holes merging to form the traditional 18 holes of golf.  This James Braid design dates back to 1905 and is somewhat unusual.

Situated in Morfa Bychan, just 3 miles from Porthmadog the genius is the front nine, whilst not a parkland is best described as heathland.  With the back nine being the links we all know and love.

Starting life as nine holes

With Lord Harlech as the inaugural President it was changed to 18 holes around 1910.  About the same time as a new land lease was signed.  To put things into perspective, the new lease had such stipulations as golfers had to be well behaved – still applies to todays game, naturally!  They were not allowed to play golf on Sundays and would be up for paying compensation if a sheep, cattle or any other animal was killed.  There was not helping themselves to game, rabbits, hares or wild fowl either!    An ode to the changing landscape was a caveat to not allow Llyn Samson water levels to diminish!  As it now forms part of the estuary, this gives you some idea of the changes from just over 100 years ago!

When playing Porthmadog, I remember playing along the estuary, it was windy and the ball wasn’t playing my game!  I got up to the 11th green and took stock of where I was.  The estuary was in full sight, a light grey bluish colour, with whispy off-white and green long grasses waving in the foreground.  To my left was the most beautiful white washed stone built cottage nestled into the valley.  I remember remarking to my playing partners that I’d love to live there; wild, rugged and with a great golf course on my doorstep – who wouldn’t!

Vista views can also be enjoyed on the 13th as you can see as far as Harlech Castle on a good day.

The James Braid

Characteristics are still in play, especially on the back nine.  In the mid 1980, as with a lot of golf course at this time, changes were made to Porthmadog.  The front nine was given a re-vamp on holes 4, 5 and 6.  Locals have, maybe tongue in cheek, labelled this as ‘Amens Corner’.  Don’t be put off as you stand on the 14th tee looking at the two large mounds which seem to close together as you realise your drive needs to go through the gap!

A friendly club who welcome you with Welsh hospitality

If you’re after a unique experience add Porthmadog to your list.  If you’re on holiday it’s a great course to get a bit of everything and satisfy those golf withdrawal symptoms.  And whilst on holiday in the beautiful North Wales Countryside, think about the Ffestiniog and Highlands Railway steam trains as they chug along as a subtle reminder of yesteryear.

Playing Porthmadog makes you think differently about your round and also about club selection from the differing front to back nine holes.  A heathland, a links, dunes, brooks, big greens, great views towards Snowdonia over Cardigan bay- Porthmadog has it all.

Green fees from £40

Q for Queen’s Course, Gleneagles

Q – Queen’s Course, Gleneagles

GB&I Golf Course Reviews – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed.

Feel free to share them to help others.

Queen’s Course

Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthsire, ScotlandPH3 1NF

Originally a nine hole course the James Braid Queen’s Course opened in 1919.   Later being extended to a full 18 holes in 1925.  Often regraded as the little sister to the Kings and the newer PGA Centenary courses.  Shorter in length than its big brothers, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by this par 68 course.  It packs a punch with its receptive fairways and great quality greens.  Even in the wettest Perthshire weather, those greens seem to hold up well.

Intertwining

The courses around each other weaving across the prettiest tamed but still remarkably rugged and colourful moorland.  Trees are a nice features of the Queen’s Course, drawing the eye up as well as forward to maximise the whole of the landscape.

In 2017 course realignment bought it back to the the original Braid design.  The course had gone through a series of renovations to suit the time which meant some bunkers were lost into the rough.  Using old imagery the original design was reinstated calling for 89 bunkers being re-built and some drainage work undertaken.

I recall the 13th

A pretty par 3 with sculptured fairways around heather and water in play.  Offset by the backdrop of tall trees looming in the distance.  Quite an intimidating hole despite its relative short length of only 129/140 yards.

I recall playing Queen’s and getting to a cross roads where the paths crossed over and it struck me how lost I could get without good signage!

The closing hole, aptly called ‘Queen’s Hame’ does entice you across the water to an inviting, reasonably wide fairway, before it softly bends left to the green insight.   It has to be said this is one of the most welcoming closing holes.  Not least because of the Dormy House looming ever present on the left as you putt out.

The Dormy House

Has been designed as one huge space, cleverly split up into little nooks for the feeling of intimacy.  An intimidating fire pit takes centre stage as you gravitate towards its heat after your round of golf.  A bit more than ‘golf club food’ was welcome after playing the Queen’s.

The onsite hotel was refurbished in 2016.  This 232 bedroom hotel wraps itself around a central courtyard entrance with its grey, almost gothic in style, granite arms outstretched to envelop you into its warmth.   A lovely bar and plenty of food choices are available, so you’ll be spoilt for choice as you ponder the ‘what ifs’ of your round on the Queens Course

R for Rosapenna

R – Rosapenna

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed.

Feel free to share them to help others.

Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort

Rosapenna, Sheephaven Bay, Downings, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, F92 PN73, Ireland

What does your mind conjure up when you think family run golf resort?

Are you struck with fear that there a once beautiful haven has little investment made into the property or golf course?  The rooms are a bit too homely with animal hairs being a major feature.  Not to mention that musty or cheap cleaning fluid smell as you enter your standard box blue print room which could be anywhere in the world?  Well if that the case, forget it as Rosapenna is nothing like that!

When I reflect on Rosapenna

I remember the home comforts; from the friendly check in to  the freshly baked cookies in a jar in your room.  The warmth and comfort of the bed in the generous sized authentically decorated rooms.   It’s a fine balance between a family run hotel and a home. I think the Casey family at Rosapenna have hit the nail on the head with their perfectly located hotel overlooking Sheephaven Bay.

I arrived at Dublin airport and picked up a hire car.  Whilst a good three and half hour drive to Rosapenna. Passing into and back out of Northern Ireland before reaching my final destination on the northerly tip of Eire was a great experience.  Whilst I did enjoy my drive, you can also fly into Belfast at just over two hours away or Derry just over an hour away

Irelands home of golf since 1893

With the original links designed by Old Tom Morris and revisions from Harry Vardon and Harry Colt.  The later addition of another golf course, Sandy Hills, in 2003 was designed by Pat Ruddy.  With some softening of the design being done by Beau Welling of Quinta do Lago (North) fame.

Marked differences in the two designs of the two complimentary courses are Old Tom routed his course around the dunes. Whereas Pat Ruddy went straight through them, presumably where the name Sandy Hills comes from?

I didn’t play the Old Tom Morris Links, only Sandy Hills, so this is the focus for this article.

A modern links designed in by Pat Ruddy and Frank Casey (Snr) in 2003.

Built to lend a test to any golfer

Clever tricks of the eye are often in play as the course looks narrow from the tee yet, the landing points carved out of the dunes are surprisingly achievable.   With Marram grass lining the fairways keeping the ball in play, is essential for a round of golf the you can hang your head high at the 19th.  Some of the greens have been cut into the dunes or on elevated plateaus for added interest and testing of ones golf nerve.

Tightly mowed fairways

Slick greens and some elevated tees.  This course has been built to expand to its maximum length of 7255 yards.  But of course, you don’t have to play the back tees!  Just elect to play from the tees that work best for you to enjoy this new style links course.  Most of the holes run North to South, along the dune ridges and in parallel to the front nine of Old Tom Morris links.  Creating a sense of seclusion with the Muckiest Mountain as the backdrop.

I recall playing down the fairway, just going about my business hitting the ball.   I looked up and saw the view of the beach and bay spread out in front of me.  It was a breathtaking moment to stop, reflect and enjoy, before being rudely dragged back to tackling that little white ball again!

Take a few days to enjoy Rosapenna, play its golf and just relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding you.   If you need a little more encouragement, this 800 acre estate on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean on the Donegal Coast also offers health and wellbeing centre and a billiard/card room.  Of course the usual putting green and driving range are available to use too, to get you into the golf mindset before having it blown by playing one or both of the championship courses.

In summary, there was a certain ‘newness’ about playing Sandy Hills but this enhanced the overall experience when playing such a beautiful course.

I hope to return one day and play the Old Tom Morris course and have another go at Sandy Hills now it has matured a little more.  And of course to get another batch of those wonderful cookies in my room whilst I sit and enjoy the view over Sheephaven Bay.

S – Southerndown

S – Southerndown

GB&I Golf Course reviews – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed.

 Feel free to share them to help others.

Southerndown Golf Club

Ogmore by Sea, Bridgend, CF32 0QP

Formerly the Ogmore Down Golfing Society was first registered in August 1905.

Originally designed by Willie Fernie with later modifications by Herbert Fowler, Willie Park and Harry Colt who was in town to design Royal Porthcawl, down the road.  Lending his hand to holes 7, 8, 17 and 18.  All capitalising on the natural terrain of this unique setting.

Laid out on a huge limestone outcrop this hill top course was crafted 360 million years ago.  The course offers part sandy links and part acid-heathland, and a combination of the two in some cases, making it one of the driest in Britain.

This elevated limestone plateau rises 300 feet about the Glamorgan Heritage coast.  With wind whipping up the Bristol channel and depositing sand over the centuries, has helped create the links style of play, despite it being a mile from the actual shore line.

Located in

The South West area of Wales near Ogmore-by-Sea and Southerndown, near Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes.  A favourite haunt of mine as a child, sand sledging down those dunes when we lived nearby. 

As you take on one of the hardest opening holes, according to Henry Cotton (and me!) hole number one is bracken covered on both sides.  Glancing right as you ascend the hill towards the green is Ogmore River valley.  

Once up on the plateau, it does seem to level out a little, but this doesn’t make the play any easier.  With pot hole bunkers, grass bunkers, bracken and gorse in play it is sometimes sensible not go for the big hit.  Placement of the ball is key as the wind whips around at the top.  With generally wide fairways, the playing corridors are defined by the low gorse and bracken, with the latter not at all easy to play from!

Climate

Location and geology all have a major influence on the golf course, but being common land it is freely grazed by sheep too.  The sheep seem to enjoy the grass and are a constant reminder of the openness of the location and the hard job those greenkeepers must have! 

The truth is, sheep have been grazing this piece of land long before golf came along.  As it is common land there are no fences to keep the sheep at bay.  Using natural methods and some clever thinking by providing the sheep with a smorgasbord of lush grass away from the fairways has worked to encourage them to graze elsewhere.  Having their own turf nursery at Southerndown is another sensible way forward. 

Sheep Help

In June 1995, a tee shot found its way somewhere towards a sheep’s backside to the surprise of the golfer – and the sheep!  After fits of giggles watching the sheep walk calmly towards the hole before shaking the ball free some 30 yards closer to the hole.  With good ‘sheep’ luck like that, the golfer went on to win his match.

Without going into a blow by blow account of each hole, I also wanted to mention the closing hole.  A pretty tee shot view towards a split fairway with gorse either side.  The middle bit is not at all inviting so chose which side you are going to go to the green from on this Par 4.  Bearing in mind the approach shot is slightly down hill to a large green in front of the club house.

Green fees from £50

S is also for Semaphore

So this is what on earth I am doing with those golf clubs for each letter!

Flag semaphore is a semaphore system conveying information at a distance by means of visual signals with hand-held flags, rods, disks, paddles, or occasionally bare or gloved hands  Or in my case golf clubs. Information is encoded by the position of the flags; it is read when the flag is in a fixed position

T for The Island

T – The Island

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed.

Feel free to share them to help others.

The Island Golf Club

The Island Golf Club, Corballis, Donabate, Co Dublin, Ireland

Founded in 1890, The Island GC is one of the first twelve golf clubs in Ireland. It’s the third oldest in Dublin, predating Portmarnock by four years.  Despite its name The island is not on an island but on a spur of land with the sea on three sides.  For the first 100 years of the clubs life, even up until 1973, access to the golf course was via boat, across the estuary from Malahide.  In the early days golfers would be dropped off for their round of golf. A large red and white disc hanging on the side of the clubhouse, was the signal to the boatsmen to collect the golfers for their return.  If the weather became inclement the only way back was around the inlet. Whilst today this poses no problem, back then it was a long and arduous journey.  In fact The Island is now only 15 minuets from Dublin Airport by road today.

Described as the definition of Links golf, The Island is one of the finest links courses with Fred Hawtree, Eddie Hackett and more recently Martin Hawtree having stakes in its evolving design.

It is true to say that when I played The Island, I played the old design, so I will endeavour to give you a brief synopsis of the redesigned front nine.  The back nine was always the stronger of the two, so largely remains unchanged.

Mackenzie & Ebert

Were appointed to look at elevating the plan of the front nine to match the back.  As luck would have it Martin Hawtree had built an extra hole, the 19th.   So incorporating this into the new design, the weaker 8th and 9th have been shuffled along to give us the course today.  The creating of new sand dunes was not taken lightly. The objective was to recreate natural dunes in the places the new design needed.  Analysis was done on the existing dunes and with careful planning the building was undertaken to achieve such a task.  It has been said that the new par 3 fourth hole will become one of the best short links holes anywhere.  These works were completed last year (2020).

As the course is naturally nestled between some of the highest sand dunes in golf which is a test in itself for golfers.  With the introduction of the new front nine, leaves me wanting to go back and play The Island again …. and again.

Standing on the tee

On a reasonably sunny but cold day, I was blown away by the sheer natural beauty of this golf course laid out in front of me.  As if large historic worms had burrowed around the fairways, leaving mounds now over grown with long grasses. The scene were something akin to a lunar landscape.  The fairways also carried the tame version of those earth worm mounds. Which added to the drama of the course, especially when the sun was shining and shadows created.  I do recall playing with the water on the right hand side, hitting a cracking shot which went slightly right towards the water and towards the OOB.  But I was feeling quite smug thinking, thats good, I’m safe.  But I didn’t find that ball, I was mortified as I saw ‘exactly where it went’, but obviously I didn’t!  I became an Island victim, by not taking this course seriously enough!

I loved playing on the greens at The Island, thinking how smooth (and fast) they were, they are a pleasure to play on.

Who would have thought that in 1887 four men and a boat could have had the foresight to build a golf course on this beautiful peninsular.  Created by a syndicate of ten wealthy men negotiating a lease on the land and offering up to five clubhouses in the early days.  Mens membership tickets were admitted in 1896 with women’s membership tickets being admitted the following year.  The syndicate model was passed down until 1952 when the syndicate of that time handed over the entire interest in the club to its existing members.

A true traditional members golf club with nice friendly people to greet you.

U for Ullapool Golf Club

U – Ullapool

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed.

Feel free to share them to help others.

Ullapool Golf Club

North Road, Ullapool, IV26 2TH

The place time forgot?

Benches dotted around the course, taking time out to enjoy this 9 hole course seems to be the best way to embrace the ethos of Ullapool Golf Club.

Just North of the fishing village of Ullapool is this friendly golf club awaiting your presence to give it a go at only £20 per 9 holes (£30 for 18 holes/day ticket).   It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, it doesn’t claim to be a long course, or even a particularly hard one either, but it does have wildlife aplenty and stunning scenery to enjoy as you play a relaxing round at Ullapool.  And if you fancy a bash whilst on holiday, you can hire clubs with golf trolleys being free to use.

My friend and fellow journalist, Kevin Markham, has played Ullapool and has this to say about the course:

So many of the Highlands golf courses are wrapped in glorious views, mountains rolling across horizons and sea stretching out of sight. Ullapool is no different. This is a nine hole course (18 tees) and you get a wonderful taste for it as you start your descent into the large village, coming from the north. Ullapool sits in the heart of Lough Broom, and dates back to 1788.

The golf course came 210 years later and is laid out at the eastern fringe of the village. It is a picturesque coastline course, squeezing up against the lough’s edges and promising views all day long. Visitors are always welcome (there’s an honesty box) but this is very much a local affair. You won’t find immaculate conditioning because it’s simply not needed at a club that was founded for the love of playing golf… and not perfect fairways.

It’s an enjoyable ramble and the holes are well routed with holes 1 and 9 taking you to and from the clubhouse, from the shoreline. Thereafter, holes run parallel to the water. That ‘local’ feel is emphasised by the shapes and flow of the land which have been absorbed into the course. To say the course has a ‘natural feel’ is an understatement.

Over the 18 holes

There are four par threes and two par fives (three for ladies). The par fours are rarely long: the shortest is 230 yards, the longest is 378 (298 for ladies), and with 18 different tees you will find the course changes its length to the tune of 260 yards for men and 244 for ladies. Sometimes the second tee on a hole doesn’t make much difference… on others it does. It means playing the nine hole loop twice offers different challenges.

Holes 2/11 and 3/12 are the most memorable and tempting holes. The par three 2nd hits straight out at the water, curving around a beach onto a little peninsula jutting into the lough. Mountains rise beyond and the men’s tee boxes on the two loops are 40 yards apart… the ladies just 10.

The par four 3rd runs right above the stony beach. Fairway then beach then lough. At high tide it must be incredibly intimidating. Whatever the tide, two brave shots are required. It measures between 261 and 338 yards, with tee boxes again well separated. The green sits at the foot of a steep gorse covered hill and as tough as the drive is, the approach is even more of a knee trembler.  A lovely par three follows, from a high tee, with the green once again right on the water’s edge.

That Gorse

That gorse is a common theme at Ullapool. There are trees here but they are widely scattered while the gorse embraces you time and again as you rise up the gentle slopes, channelling you towards small greens. Keep it on the fairways and it’s a sweet amble… if not, expect the occasional prickly end.

Don’t expect complex golf at Ullapool. That is not its attraction. This is a fun and friendly local club that promises an enjoyable day out amidst the beauty of the Highlands.

V for Vale of Llangollen

Photo credits Kevin Markham

V – Vale of Llangollen

GB&I Golf Course Reviews – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed.

Feel free to share them to help others.

Vale of Llangollen

Holyhead Road, Llangollen LL20 7PR

In the county of Denbighshire and regarded as one of the best inland golf courses in North Wales, Vale of Llangollen is a sight for sore eyes.

It is one of those places that you don’t really give it the justice it deserves until you round the building and overlook the Vale beneath with the golf course carefully mapped out in front of you, enticing in its appearance.  With the Welsh hills stretching out in the distance this is a perfect backdrop to this inviting course.

Located in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, golfers have been enjoying this scene since 1908 where it started life as a nine hole course, extended to the full 18 holes, in the 1960’s.  Vale of Llangollen is located within Pontcysyllte area which in itself, being a UNESCO site is in bed with such greats as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China.  This designated heritage site cited as a ‘masterpiece of human genius’,  is impressive in its pedigree.  Does this alone make Vale of Llangollen unique in its pedigree as a golf club?

The River Dee is present, although not necessarily in play.  It is most noticeable on three holes; with the 9th being regarded as one of the best holes in British Golf at 418/436 yards (SI 5/1).  Sure enough as you stand on the elevated tee, it doesn’t show its true colours until you see where your drive might land.  Favouring the large tree on the right, you can just about tuck in before the fairway twists left keeping the River ever present on the right before finally allowing you a glimpse of the green.  A par 4 for men and a par 5 for ladies add to the male vs female friendly battle.  Other holes which enjoy the River Dee are the 15th and 16th

Hole number 14

A 146/167 yard par 3 SI18 has a narrowish exit with large trees towering over you as you take on this otherwise non threatening par three.  Add in the other tee box sitting next you though, and one might feel as they can’t mess it up ‘in front of a crowd’.  But get used to the crowd you must.

The finishing hole is a crowd busting one too.  An uphill par three often requires a bit more club than the distance of 115/153 yards (SI16/12).  A ditch runs across the fairway and the green slopes back to front, so on the green in one is the only option to make a par.  All this in front of the elevated patio with golfers watching your every move from their vantage point.  It’s a nerve jangling finishing hole, but definitely worth a bit of banter in the clubhouse afterwards.

The times I visited Vale of Llangollen we met with friendly people in the clubhouse. In fact they believe in their club so much that one member signed up his child for membership at only 5 months old to help out the club doing Covid times.

Llangollen is a pretty nice to visit too, with the River dissecting the town. Famed for hosting the International Music Eisteddfod, a unique annual celebration of world music and dance since 1947.  Castell Dinas Brân has been shadowing over Llangollen since it was built in 1260 by Gruffyd Maelor II the Prince of Powys Fadgo.

W for Wallasey Golf Club

W – Wallasey

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland.  Full write up’s and more images can be found on golfgurugroup.blogspot or www.golfgurugroup.com Travelling Lady Golfer tab.  So there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information, if needed. Look out for the daily influx of unique, quirky, amazing golf courses across the GB & I.  Feel free to share them to help others.
Wallasey Golf Club
Baywater Road, Wallasey, Wirral, CH45 8LA Founded in 1891 by members from nearby Hoylake, with a sterling layout from Old Tom Morris it was immediately heralded for its great greens.  There were a few tweaks to the course in 1901 by Alex Herd and 1913 by Harold Hilton.  But it was in 1917 when the drifting sand from nearby beaches, coupled with lease issues threatened Wallasey’s future.  Issues resolved, in steps James Braid in 1929 who consulted in the alterations of the course.  It obviously worked as in 1930 Wallasey was selected as an Open qualifier course for Royal Liverpool. An Open qualifying course again in 1936, with reduced yardage, Hawtree and J H Taylor were drafted in with James Braid once again adding his two penneth to its tweaked design. Post war; a couple of lost holes were reinstated giving us a full 18 hole links once again.  Continued improvements were being made with the last ones by Donald Steel who re-desgined 3 new holes for play in 2004. Little of the original 1981 course remains intact.  Gales, blown sand, war office requirements and the desire for extra length have led to several reconstructions.  Only holes 2, 7, 8 and 12 have the original greens, such as evolution dictates.
I honestly cannot remember the first time I played Wallasey Golf Club, it must have been over 10 years ago but have been back 3 or 4 times since.  The first time, I was a reasonably high handicapper with the ability to hit the odd good shot, but nothing too reliable.  Wallasey was the first golf course to have the Bagger Vance effect on me; just see the path ahead, everything else just blurs into the background and it is easy to see how on this course. Wallasey rarely has dunes that you have to play over or through.   But the fairways are lined with Marram grass and gorse so you can literally see your chosen path ahead, snaking around in a tantalising fashion. I guess it is only fitting that in the movie the Legend of Bagger Vance that Junuh was playing against Bobby Jones.  Bobby Jones played his qualifying round at Wallasey for the 1930 Open at Royal Liverpool.  Wallasey must have had a lasting effect on Bobby Jones too, as he sat for a portrait painted by one of the members.  This portrait ‘Bobby’ still hangs proudly in the lounge to this day.
As you start to play Wallasey, it lures you into a false sense of security with a fairly innocuous straight par 4 hole running alongside the road.  Then as you turn towards hole two, you may see the resident fox sitting on the tee box waiting for a snack without getting too close and certainly not menacing. The second hole is famous for a totally different reason.  A par 4, almost 90 degree dog leg right, wide enough to take on the corner or keep left and get on in regulation for your second shot. Doctor Frank Stableford a member at Wallasey Golf Club at the time came up with the Stableford scoring system on this hole.  I wonder if he had a nightmare on hole 1?  Either way, the scoring system we all know and love today is from this very course.  If you do take on the corner, over the dunes, and you miss, give a little nod to Dr Stableford for inventing such a forgiving system.  Your worst score on that hole is nil points, or blob as we loving like to call it in the UK.
Other holes of note.
In fact you won’t even know about this hole until you clamber over the dunes to the 4th hole and the world appears to just open up ahead of you.  Out of the dunes and into a wide open expanse overlooking the sea.  On the horizon a multitude of majestic wind turbines quietly going about their business glinting in the sunshine as they sparkle off the sea gently lapping around them.  The forth hole is a par 5, and the hardest hole on the course playing 438 to 571 yards.  With it elevated tee, it does give you a sense of whack ability but be aware of the shallow banks and burrows that are in play on this hole too! Hole number 16 is worth a mention, in so far as the first time I played Wallasey I thought, blimey!!  It is a relatively long par 3, 180 to 227 yards, SI14 over a ravine of unsavoury stuff up back to the green which seems to cling onto the edge of the bank.  In fact it is set into the bank on the right hand side, with a drop off on the left. A little path connects the dots after your tee shot.  There is little option than to try and hit the green in one, I remember the green being quite big, if that helps? Navigating yourself around the course, enjoying the fairways set out inviting in front of you is no more present than on the 18th.   You stand on the tee, and there is only fairway spread out in front of you.  A beautifully inviting cut fairway leading its way in ten pin ball fashion to the pin at the end.  With marram grass and the odd bit of gorse in the rough, it is less tempting, so stick with your inner Bagger Vance and see the field. You can guarantee that if you don’t, your golfing buddies sat on the patio deck area will notice any errant shots and give a sympathetic sigh.  Knowing too well how difficult it is not only find your ball but then play for glory to the 18th green with all and sundry overlooking your every move. Wallasey remains one of my all time favourite golf courses to play in the world and I hope to return one day soon.
X for eXminster Golf Centre

X – eXminster

GB&I Golf Course Review – Z to A

Over the next 26 days, I am going to showcase one golf club a day in GB & I.  It is my ode to some great golf in the UK and Ireland  Full write up’s can be found on golfgurugroup blogspot or on golfgurugroup website under the Travelling Lady Golfer tab too, so there is no missing out on that extra little bit of information I can’t fit here on social media

Look out for the daily influx of unique, quirky, amazing golf courses across the GB & I, and feel free to share them to help others.

Today we look at the letter X for eXminster Golf Centre

Exminster Hill, Exeter, EX6 8GA

Ok, it has to be said I had to use a little creative license with this one, as I cannot find a golf club in GB&I starting with the letter X, so I have worked on the phonetic sound, with the E being silent in (English) speech.

I’ve also pushed the boundaries a little here as this facility isn’t strictly a golf course, more a practice facility with 9 holes attached.  But with great views over towards Devon and only 5 minuets from Exeter you can really enjoy your golf here.   With a 16 bay floodlit facility, it’s an opportunity to sneak away for a few hours, even whilst holidaying with the family in this beautiful part of England

The clubhouse at Exminster is large enough for private functions and must be great when you’ve got the family in tow to have somewhere to take stock before heading back out to the range or golf course.

I myself started at a similar facility before moving on to a more challenging 18 hole golf course; if Exminster is like my starter course, it was fantastic to get me going in golf.

Here’s what one local had to say about Exminster Golf Centre:

A 9 hole very friendly club,  the course is quite tight with small greens.  There are 4 par 3’s which are tough!  The course is quite undulating in places which make shots challenging, but is forgiven for the beautiful views of the Exe Estuary from the second and third holes.  More country side views over adjacent farmland are also on offer for the enjoyment when playing Exminster Golf course.  There is an excellent driving range with indoor and outdoor mats plus a small but well stocked pro shop.  The large clubhouse serves a variety of good food.  Known in the area as a starter course for new golfers to gain confidence on before moving to bigger clubs in the area.

Exminster is a village close to the southern edge of the City of Exeter, in South Devon.  An ancient village with religious roots in the Saxon minster dating back to King Alfred the Great of the 8th Century.  Exminster has ties back in history to William Courtenay who was the Archbishop of Canterbury 1381 to 1396

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Y of Yelverton Golf Club

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