By Sam Tremlett
Take a look at our list of the best golf courses in Gloucestershire.
The Best Golf Courses In Gloucestershire
A county that possesses the Cotswold Hills, sections of the Severn Valley and a huge chunk of the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire has a multitude of golf courses for you to try. As a result, we have taken a look at some of the best although perhaps it is worth bearing in mind the sheer size of Gloucestershire which means many of the courses on this list are spread out.
Additionally it should be worth noting that we have included a couple of courses in the Bristol area as they sit between both Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
The Best Golf Courses In Gloucestershire
Minchinhampton Golf Club is perhaps unique in that it boasts three charming 18-hole courses but in two quite separate locations. The newer and more sophisticated pair were developed about 40 and 20 years ago to the east of the village, but the Old is up on the common to the west and is packed with old-fashioned, natural charm. With a par of 71, it dates back to the formation of the club in 1889 and resembles an inland links with hollows, humps, no sand or water hazards and far-reaching views.
Considerable investment has taken place in recent years, both in the hotel and on the course. The two nines play either side of the hotel, with the 2nd and 3rd playing towards the town’s famous Abbey and the 5th, an ingenious yet tricky short par 3, playing down to a green you simply have to hit. The back nine starts with a superb par 3 past a centuries-old tree and a small barn as you make your way down to the more open-feeling holes, albeit with some impressive arboreal specimens to negotiate. The punchbowl 16th is another fine par 3 playing straight up towards the hotel, and definitely requires a club or two more than its yardage. The final short par 4 to a green in front of the manor house looks tempting, but it plays against the slope for left-to-right hitters, with tall trees awaiting anything leaking right.
Players Club (Codrington)
There are three courses on this very pretty site a few miles to the east of Bristol, and it is the Codrington that offers the greatest challenge.
Literally a stiff test – it was designed 15 years ago by Adrian Stiff – there is plenty of risk and reward with five par 5s, five par 3s and attractive water hazards regularly in play. The course stretches to over 7,000 yards from the tips, the greens are large and undulating, the bunkering is well placed and thoughtful play will pay dividends.
The original two loops were designed again by local architect Adrian Stiff and offer an extremely enjoyable mix; part parkland, part American-style with plenty of water. The opening holes ease you into your round before you encounter the very pretty 4th, a dog-leg right with water and a sleepered bunker waiting to grab anything left. Seven is a really tough par 4 to a narrow green and the 8th takes you back up the hill over a vipers nest of bunkers.
Nine is a pretty tiddler which should just be a dink over the pond, and probably the more photogenic hole is the scary 11th with its island green. There is a fine sequence of challenging holes leading round the 16th were there is no option but to loft the ball over the 80-yards of lake lapping up to the green. If you harbour hopes that you are done with the water then sorry, but no! Seventeen crosses marshland and the sloping 18th green is only marginally smaller than the pool that fronts it.
The newer nine holes of the Badminton course are awkwardly located quite a walk away on the other side of the road, but once you are there, they provide a very attractive and entertaining test. It is hoped that in time a fourth nine will be built at which point the holes can be re-ordered to make a more seamless sequence.
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Home club of 2016 Ryder Cupper, Chris Wood, Long Ashton offers an enjoyable and varied test with several very attractive holes. Decision-making comes into play on the 1st, with the short, gently downhill par-4 asking you to choose between early attack or a more cautious opening gambit. Go for the former and get out of position, and your bold plan could backfire. The 2nd is an absolutely delightful short par 3 playing more steeply downhill to a green flanked by an exposed rockface on the left.
From here, the course plays on into slightly more elevated, exposed terrain for a few holes, before dropping down a ridge to another visual highlight – the modest-length par-4 6th that plays to a shelf green, beside which a steep bank awaits anything leaking left. The 8th is another short par 4 where bravado could prove your undoing – slice it and you’ll likely end up OOB; go for the big one and hold on to it, and you could even go OOB the other side of the 9th tee. The par-4 14th and 15th at 454 and 477 yards are the toughest back-nine holes to get through with your score intact, though the former is at least gently downhill, while the 17th plays a tad longer than its 179 yards up the slope.
Lilley Brook is the only McKenzie course in Gloucestershire, with the club set to celebrate its centenary in 2022. The course plays through mature trees over verdant fairways, with 12 holes occupying the lower ground and the final six up on higher ground on the edge of the Cotswolds. Those spying the par of 69 should think twice about an easy ride, for there is just one par 5, several par 4s over 400 yards and a couple of very long par 3s in the 3rd and 17th.
Rising to 850ft above sea level in the Cotswolds, outstanding views are clearly one reason Broadway feature on our list. On a clear day it is a simply marvellous place to play, and a fun course too that gives and takes away in equal measure. There are beautiful holes, enhanced by the odd drystone wall, and stern tests like the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 16th, with the 6th presenting you with a real knee-trembler of a drive. But perhaps above all, it is the healthy smattering of risk-reward par 4s that stand out – holes like the 2nd, 11th, 12th and 15th where you pay your money and make your choice between ambition and prudence.
If PG Wodehouse had wanted to invent a name to use in one of his excellent, quintessential English golfing tales, he could have done no better than this. The club is now in its fourth location, just a five-minute walk from the town, and the Fred Hawtree design benefits from some more recent improvements which have seen the introduction of lakes, waterways and new sculpting.
One minor criticism would be that there are now one or two par4s were a good straight drive will reach a ditch. Despite this, it is a hugely enjoyable course in very good condition with a number of excellent holes. It is the par4s that really make the course and you will need to drive well to score well. A further pleasure, though perhaps not from the greenkeeping perspective, is the abundant waterfowl on the course.
More of a hidden gem than the other courses on this list, Painswick offers something completely different thanks to its array of blind shots, tricky lies, and complete absence of bunkers. It sits along the ridge that is Painswick Beacon, one of a string of pre-Roman hill forts constructed in the Cotswolds and which date from the Bronze Age. There are great ramparts of earth and stone which enclose all or part of the 5th, 6th, 7th, 10th and 11th holes – and fabulous views. Genuinely unique, this is the kind of course that will revitalise the most jaded of golfing palates.
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