By Sam Tremlett
From Cavendish to Breadsall Priory, we take a look at the best courses in Derbyshire.
The Best Golf Courses In Derbyshire
Situated in the East Midlands with a sizeable chunk of the Peak District within its borders, Derbyshire offers spectacular scenery for those seeking the beauty of England. Their golf courses, of which there are plenty, present these views beautifully and they provide some truly enjoyable rounds of golf. Below we have taken a look at the best of the county, so without further ado we start with Cavendish Golf Club.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
The Best Golf Courses In Derbyshire
This moorland/parkland hybrid in the beautiful Peak District is the handiwork of Dr Alister MacKenzie. More than that, the club, and in particular, golf course architect member, Jonathan Gaunt, firmly believe that the design principles MacKenzie applied to this humble Derbyshire layout later resurfaced when he created his much more famous Augusta National layout at the request of Bobby Jones.
You do indeed get a real sense of the tee-shot on Augusta's 18th when you play the 7th at Cavendish, whilst the false-front greens on the 5th and 14th bring to mind the 9th at Augusta. Balls that don't quite make it far enough up will suffer a similar reverse-progress fate back down the slope - often many yards back down! Perhaps more importantly, though, Cavendish is just a delightful place to play, with a particularly strong cast of par 3s, from the two steep downhillers on the front nine, to a testing back nine trio with the 15th playing across a valley to another steep-fronted green.
A lovely course in beautiful surroundings.
Chevin boasts a delightful course of manageable yardage, with the sharp ascent onto the Chevin Ridge and the occasional blind shot bolstering defences. The lower holes are mature parkland, while the upper ones have a rugged, moorland feel and a five-county vista on a haze-free day. The 8th - aptly named Tribulation - lives long in the memory with its narrow, hogs back fairway and steep climb to a green where OOB lurks right and long, though going long takes a bit of doing. Its only 381 yards, but bogey rarely leaves too bitter a taste.
The course was laid out shortly after the war using plans from James Braid that were modified by John Morrison, an associate of the great Harry Colt.
The opening hole sets the scene, a par 5 played from on high that sweeps down through majestic trees to a well-defended green. Stately trees define the course as they separate the holes extremely well throughout. Doglegs are another regular feature with the 2nd and 3rd both fine examples. The par-5 5th runs down to the water that separates the course from the adjacent National Trust mansion.
The second half is every bit as strong as the first, with the holes twisting and turning their way back down towards the lake. You arrive there – hopefully not literally – via the par-3 16th which has Kedleston Hall as a striking backdrop.
Sitting on the hillside above the Hope Valley, Sickleholme Golf Club is just ten miles from the centre of Sheffield yet feels remote and is wonderfully peaceful. There is a huff and puff start as you work your way up the opening pair of par 4s, but once up, the views more than compensate.
The third is a 451-yard par 4 played from on high, and here there are panoramic vistas over the valley that will put a spring back in your step even if you don’t make par.
There is some more down and up, including two very tough par 4s, before you arrive at the photogenic short 13th. There is often a cross wind here, and bunkers will attract anything off-line whilst a deep chasm will swallow up anything short.
All in all Sickleholme delivers on views, fun and feel-good factor.
The course at Chesterfield has been on its present site for more than a century, and in that time it has evolved into an engaging and varied test of golf. With the exception for the rather congested 1st and 6th, there are plenty of strong and memorable holes with the 2nd and 3rd asking early questions despite running downhill. The short 8th looks welcoming enough but has a narrow green that delights in nudging mishits into the bunker on the left, and the long 9th runs back up to the clubhouse between trees along what was once worryingly known as Murder Alley!
The back nine is even more attractive with a greater feeling of space, kicking off with an excellent hole below the elevated clubhouse. The 13th is a long par 4 over a rippling fairway and justifiably stroke index 1, and the last three holes are perhaps the prettiest of the lot, taking you up, down and then back up the hill at the par-5 18th to a two-tier green. Chesterfield provides diversity, challenge, peace and scenic surroundings in equal measure so should be on your list of courses to try in Derbyshire.
On the southern fringes of the beautiful Peak District, this turned out to be a real find! You encounter a delightful course surrounded by glorious scenery with rolling hills, far-reaching views, rocky crags and glimpses of the spooky ruins of Riber Castle.
There are some cracking par-4s, most notably the 5th, 6th, 9th and 16th, and everyone will remember the par 3 10th at the far end of the course which requires a confident shot over a ravine of ferns, heather and gorse. The 11th fairway is home to the Cuckoo Stone, a large rock under a hawthorn tree which serves as the clubs logo so if you like your golf scenic, natural, varied, testing, at times quirky but above all fun, then Matlock really should be on your 'to play' list.
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It is not often you are lucky enough to play adjacent courses that are so completely different from one another, but that is the happy situation here. The original Priory Course opened for play in the late 1970s and is situated over extremely pretty, undulating land to the south of the hotel.
The newer Moorland is a Donald Steel design from the early 1990s which runs along more level ground to the north. One of the joys of the older course is that is is blessed with many impressive specimen trees. These and the relatively small greens mean that accuracy is more important than length, and there is an exciting finish with two par-5s in the closing four holes as well as the lovely downhill short 17th.
The Moorland is rather more protected by the vagaries of the wind, and its elevated positions means there are superb views of the countryside. To have such contrasting courses is a rare treat and makes Breadsall Priory an excellent destination for a golf break.
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