The Springs - Stay and Play

Ed Carruthers enjoys a trip to The Springs golf course in Oxfordshire, a fantastic country get away from the city.

One of the signature holes at the The Springs golf course in Oxford.
(Image credit: Azalea)

The Springs - Stay and Play

  • Location Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
  • Founded 1998.
  • Architect Brian Hugget and Tim Lobb.
  • GF Monday – Thursday £50. Friday – Sunday & Bank Holidays – £60.
  • Par 72 - 6,481 yards.
  • Contact The Springs.

Situated in the Chiltern hills in Oxfordshire, The Springs Golf Resort and Spa is a newly refurbished golf club that is the perfect destination if you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London. Built on a 133 acre plot of land that was once owned by legendary guitarist Ian Gillan from the band Deep Purple, the resort is surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful farmland that provides a picturesque backdrop to your round. It is just over an hour's drive from the capital, and while golf is the main attraction here, there's plenty on offer at The Springs for the non-golfer, too.

The Tudor manor at the springs sits on top of a hill looking out on the countryside and has been refurbished to become a boutique hotel.

(Image credit: Azalea)

The Golf Course

The first thing that struck us when we arrived was just how quiet it was. While Deep Purple were once considered one of the loudest bands in the world, we were greeted with the serene sounds of the countryside when we first pulled up, as well as the occasional thwack of someone’s driver off the first tee. 

The course first opened back in 1998 and was initially designed by former Ryder Cup Captain Brian Huggett. The estate was subsequently bought by Darwin Escapes in 2017 and has undergone a significant renovation since. Renowned course architect Tim Lobb has updated the layout of the grounds, notably improving the shaping and height of the many bunkers that adorn the fairways, raising several greens, while also re-building and improving the waterways around the site. The work has resulted in the course now being one of the finest in the south-east and hosted the British Speed Golf Championship in 2022. 

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t hold out during our first round. We got soaked. But that gave us a great chance to see what the course played like in wet conditions, and I have to say, I was very impressed. A lot of courses in the UK can struggle to cope when the rain is pouring, but having been built on the banks of the River Thames, the course seemed to drain well, didn't become too saturated and the greens held on nicely considering the downpour. 

The golf course at The Springs resort is surrounded by farm land and natural beauty.

(Image credit: Azalea)

There are tees to suit all abilities and you’ll start your round on a pretty interesting first hole that shares a double green with the 6th. Flighting the ball around the trees and bunkers located in centre of the fairway was tricky, but that would summarise the rest of our round. While this is not the most undulating golf course, with it being situated on relatively flat ground, the challenge comes in the raised greens and hazards that are strategically placed throughout. Targeting the pin was difficult at times and certainly asked questions of me when I found myself playing from the rough. 

For me, the signature holes were the par three 8th and par four 17th. Both require players to navigate their way around a body of water, that doesn’t quite cut the full way across the fairway but did fill my mind with doubt over whether to play it safe and lay up, or go for glory. In fact, I lost a few balls on the 17th doing just that, with the lake strategically separating you from the green, just enough that it forces you to play out to the left to get a clear shot onwards. Ultimately, it proved to be a very enjoyable round. 

The course plays to 6,481 yards off the white tees and I think it is laid out superbly. It boasts a slope rating of 123, which was accurate to its degree of difficulty and I did find it a challenge to score on some of the holes. It is fairly flat, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing and will be a favourite among players who don't want to be walking up and down hills all day.

The range and chipping facilities were up there with some of the best I’ve practiced on. Players looking to get fitted for clubs or just practice their swing can also take advantage of the club's shot tracer lounge, which comes with a state-of-the-art Foresight Sports ball tracer.

Buggies and electric trolleys are available for hire and the club shop had a range of very smart branded ‘The Springs’ apparel - the perfect souvenir after a long-weekend at the resort. I was also impressed on how well stocked the pro shop was, with its shelves lined with some top-quality golf gear that you'll find on our Editor's Choice Awards for 2023

The last thing to mention on the golf course is that the club is GEO Certified, meaning the it is recognised as part of an international network of courses for their commitments to environmental and social responsibility. The Springs earned its accreditation in October 2020, becoming 70th course in the UK to achieve this acclaim and it is plain to see why, with Oxfordshire club playing host to all kinds of wildlife. 

A hole at The Springs Golf Club showing off the hazards and tricky approaches to the greens around the golf course.

(Image credit: Azalea)

The Clubhouse

After your round, you'll be able to sample the many refreshments and delicacies the clubhouse has to offer. And I was very impressed with the food and the service at the Ridgeway Restaurant and the Spike Bar. 

The restaurant is named after the famous Ridgeway Trail located nearby and is superbly decorated with mock Tudor beams that compliment the neighbouring hotel. The club serves breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day and the extensive menus had me spoiled for choice. The food was outstanding and there was something for everyone, although I must recommend the steak pie which was superb. 

The Clubhouse at The Springs.

(Image credit: Azalea)

I did notice that many locals from the surrounding area were dining in the Ridgeway, which in my opinion, is always a great sign of a high-quality restaurant. Patrons can also enjoy their post-round drink or snack while sitting on the large balcony at the rear of the clubhouse that overlooks the 18th green. I took a walk around the clubhouse and was equally impressed with the modern locker room facilities and showers that are available.

Hotel, Lodges and Spa

The Springs offers several different kinds of accomodation. Guests are able to book rooms situated in the Tudor manor and can also book into one of the lodges that are located around the grounds. All of the rooms at the resort are very well decorated, offering up a cool and modern aesthetic that pairs nicely with the friendly and unstuffy atmosphere around this club.  

The lodges are brand new and you can either opt for a self-catered apartment, that comes with a hot tub on its decking, or one of the smaller lodges which overlook the golf course. All of the rooms are spacious and are full of everything you could need, from Nespresso machines to very fast Wi-Fi. There are also accomodation options available to compliment larger groups of families or friends looking to stay at the resort.

Once you've wrapped up your day on the course, why not make use of the resort's fantastic 1893 Spa. Indulge yourself in one of the many treatments The Springs has to offer. While Ian Gillan once had a guitar-shaped swimming pool built at the rear of the mansion, which has since been removed, you'll be able to make use of the spa's excellent hydrotherapy pool and sauna to unwind after a long day. The spa also offers a fantastic lounge, where you can relax and sample some of the excellent refreshments on offer as you wait for your massage. 

Overall, The Springs is a first-class resort that will not just appeal to golfers. The modern and charming hotel and the warm and welcoming clubhouse combine to deliver one of the best country escapes that is perfect for anyone looking to enjoy a relaxing get away with friends or family. It is very much a gem in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside. 

Ed Carruthers

Ed has been playing golf for as long as he can remember and is obsessive about the sport. He is regularly sought after by family members and friends for advice on what equipment to buy and uses his background, having written extensively on golf in the past, to produce equipment orientated content for Golf Monthly.  

Having obtained a Masters in Law with Medicine from the University of Liverpool, Ed has recently changed paths into journalism and just last year achieved his NCTJ Sports Journalism Diploma with the Press Association. 

He has written for a variety of media outlets over the years and has interviewed some big names in sport, including Premier League managers, All Blacks Coaches and Grand Slam tennis superstars. He has also worked on some huge sporting events, including the 2021 Australian Open and the 2022 FIFA World Cup. And when he's not writing for Golf Monthly, you'll find him producing news and feature articles for the MailOnline's sports desk, where he covers everything from football to rugby union. 

During his weekends off, you'll likely find Ed heading out for a round at one of his local golf clubs with his friends, and was, up until recently, a member at the Leatherhead Golf Club in Surrey. Ed also plays the saxophone, can tell you some pretty terrible dad jokes and can knock up a very tasty carbonara!