By Jeremy Ellwood published
Calcot Park Golf Club Course Review
GF £40-£60wd, £50we after 12.00; Twilight: £30-£35 after 4pm
Par 70, 6,275 yards
GM Verdict – A very pleasant Colt parkland layout with a tough opener and a particularly enjoyable set of par 3s
Favourite Hole – The signature 156-yard par-3 7th plays over a large pond to a steep-fronted green with deep bunkers set into the bank
Aside from some of the very best golf courses in Buckinghamshire and the very best golf courses in Berkshire, there are many other nice courses not far from the M4 in the early stages of its 189-mile journey west from London down to Swansea. One such course is the lovely layout at Calcot Park, which plays over mature parkland a few miles west of Reading and is accessed by east and west entrance drives cutting through the course.
The club dates back to 1930 and boasts the renowned Harry Colt as its designer. As you make your way round, you’ll certainly encounter the odd false-fronted green or two to expose any frailties in either ball-striking or clubbing. The opener, at 429 yards off the whites, would actually be a strong contender for toughest hole on the course, so there’s no sense of easing yourself in. It plays gently uphill to a long, contoured green and you’ll have to hit two good shots to start with a par. As if acutely aware of the toughness of its opening test, the course then relents with an eminently drivable par 4 of just 252 yards, though missing short or right of its two-tiered green will leave a very tricky up and down.
There are many more fine holes as you make your way round, with the tee-shot on the downhill 3rd particularly inviting, and the par-5 6th asking you to factor in a pretty stream that angles obliquely across the fairway if going for it in two. There are just two par 5s, with the other coming at the 12th, which crosses the western entrance drive. It’s blessed with an attractive approach to a green set in a shallow hollow and surrounded by trees.
Four par 3s make for an overall par of 70, and each of this quartet lives long in the memory for various reasons. The 7th - the signature hole for many - plays across a large pond to a steep-fronted green, while the 13th and 17th play back and forth across the same deep gully, with the latter well-bunkered left and right. But before those three, the short 4th is also a little cracker, playing slightly uphill into a corner near the woods, with big bunkers to the left of the green and a deep hollow waiting to snaffle up anything short right.
Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...
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