Cleeve Hill Golf Club Course Review

Back from the brink, the eccentric and blissfully located course at Cleeve Hill Golf Club is fabulous fun

Cleeve Hill Golf Club - Feature
The short sixteenth at Cleeve Hill enjoys a magnificent setting
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cleeve Hill Golf Club Course Review
GF
Round: £25-£35wd, £30-£40we
Par 71, 6,400 yards
Slope 118
GM Verdict Old-school charm and fabulous views, golf as natural and elemental as it comes at a bargain rate
Favourite Hole The long 13th played to a bell-shaped green on the edge of the escapement with Cheltenham lying below in the distance

The original design here is attributed to Old Tom Morris in the early 1890s. Way before that, however, the land was quarried for its stone. The result is a rumpled carpet of golfing fun. Lightly bunkered and usually with masses of room off the tee, this is a course which will test your short game at the same time as delivering a history lesson in golf course design.

Cleeve Hill - Hole 1

Looking down on the opening green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

A rolling par 5 kicks off proceedings, following the prevailing wind to the most easterly point on the course. A good drive here will set you up for par or better. A pair of par 4s take you in the opposite direction and then up the hill to the 4th, the second of the three-shotters.

Cleeve Hill - Hole 5

A view back from behind the fifth green

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The 5th is a middle-distance par 4 played to a sloping green nicely sited beside some humps left and long, and with a run-off into a bunker on the right. The 6th is a cracking little par 3, the only one going out, before a hat-trick of solid par 4s takes you to the turn.

Cleeve Hill - Hole 10

The back nine opens with a cracking par 3 down the hill

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The 10th is another really interesting short hole, this time played from a tee way up high down to a circular green. The next climbs gently again, and the 12th runs south-west and usually into the breeze. Talking of which, the hilltop setting is very exposed and so wind will often be a strong factor.

Cleeve Hill - Hole 13

The beautifully-sited thirteenth green with Cheltenham in the valley beyond

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

The 13th is the third and final par 5, and it heads to a wonderfully-sited and unusual bell-shaped green at the far end of the escarpment. Its location feels like, and almost certainly is, one of great historical significance!

Cleeve Hill - Hole 15 and 16

Back-to-back short holes at fifteen, on the right, and sixteen

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You turn for home along the edge of the hill from the 14th, with a brilliant sting in the tail waiting at the back-to-back par 3s that follow it. Each is played over rocks and crevices, and the 15th is actually SI18 although it’s very easy to be distracted by the brilliant views on your left.

Cleeve Hill - Hole 16

An aerial view of the par-3 sixteenth with Cheltenham Racecourse in the valley below

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 16th is a shade under 200 yards and fraught with hidden dangers; a three here feels very much like a birdie.

Cleeve Hill - Hole 18

 The final green, on the left, with the clubhouse beyond

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The closing pair of par 4s head back to the sanctuary of the clubhouse and should ease you home if the wind is behaving.

If far-reaching and unspoilt views are your thing, Cleeve Hill will tick all the boxes. It is also undoubtedly one of the best golf courses in Gloucestershire and offers great value for money. It is the epitome of natural golf, running as it does up hill and down dale at the highest point in the beautiful Cotswolds. Recently saved from the brink of extinction, there is every hope that this idyllically-situated course now has a long-term, healthy and happy future.

Rob Smith
Rob Smith

Rob Smith has been playing golf for more than 40 years and been a contributing editor for Golf Monthly since 2012 specialising in course reviews and travel. He has now played 1,150 different courses in almost 50 countries. Despite lockdowns and travel restrictions last year, he still managed to play 80 different courses during 2021, 43 of them for the first time. This included 21 in 13 days on a trip to East Lothian in October. One of Rob's primary roles is helping to prepare the Top 100 and Next 100 Courses of the UK&I, of which he has played all but nine. Rob is a member of Tandridge Golf Club in Surrey where his handicap hovers around 16. You can contact him at r.smith896@btinternet.com.