The Course

The Blue Course

The Blue Course, unusually, starts with a par 3 (pictured), but it is a magnificent start and one which instantly confronts the golfer with the skill of Fowler’s design. The green sits on a mound, more than 200 yards away across a sea of heather. There is trouble short and right of the green, to catch a weakly hit slice and back left of the green to punish the hooked shot which is likely to go too long. This is a regular theme on both courses, as the natural slopes and hazards are subtly created from the shape and contours of the land which Fowler had to work with.

After the challenges of the 1st have been dealt with, the front 9 offers some birdie opportunities, with two par 5s and three short par 4s. It is advisable to take advantage of these, as the back 9 offers just one hazardous par 5, and finishes with a run of five challenging par 4s which can damage a potentially good score. The most difficult of these, the long, dog-leg 16th, competes with the 1st hole to be considered the finest on the Blue Course. To avoid a very long second shot, the drive must be well struck around, or over, the bunker which is cut into the corner of the dogleg. Even once on the green, the dangers are not over, as it slopes severely from back to front and left to right.

The Blue Course may not rank as highly as the Red in the top 100 lists, however, members will often say that it is the tougher of the two courses to score on, and the difficulty in putting good figures on the card is a testament to the success of Fowler’s work.

The Red Course

The Red Course lies on higher ground than the Blue and runs through slightly more undulating terrain, with more dramatic elevation changes between tees and greens. It offers a unique assortment of holes, in that it has six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s. The six short holes have been described as the best collection in the country and must rank as amongst the most intimidating anywhere.

In compensation for the challenges of the short holes, the majority of the par 5s are not long, and offer opportunities for birdie, or even eagle – that is as long as the golfer does not stray off-line into the waiting heather and pine trees. The 17th (pictured) is the longest and most challenging of the par 5s. Two long shots are required to get close to the green, and a pair of ditches threaten the second shot. The green is guarded by two deep bunkers, and its slope at the front and tier in the middle can make for a tricky chip shot whether the hole is on the top or bottom level.

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