Golf Club Review: Morley Hayes (Apr 2021)

Since I last reviewed a local course in November of 2020 (which you can find here), we UK citizens endured some of the most restrictive enforcements imposed in a lifetime. No pubs, No shops, No golf.

The wife wasn’t so happy with the middle one, whilst I had already resigned myself to drinking at home over the festive and new year period, the biggest hit on me was golf… Now forty-something my football days are over… ish… My newfound love for a sport I first played down at Woodthorpe Park pitch and putt aged 8 and a bit with dad, is back, rekindled, new bag, new balls, Xmas pressies were all golf orientated, from caps to cups, I’m an easy person to buy for.

So the start of the year prolonged by the plague of 2020 ensured exercise (other than walking and running to the end of your road and back) and sport, of a competitive nature (outside of your back garden with the kids), was very much a NO, don’t do it… BANNED or you’ll pay the consequences with a hefty government imposed fine…

In truth, from Jan-March nobody knew what was going off, nobody knew what they could and could not do.. So most, like me, did very little… Drink, eat, get fat… repeat…

But a breath of life began when BJ announced the latest roadmap to covid-safety… Three things to look for…. When are we allowed in pubs….? When are we allowed in football stadiums….? And when does golf start back?

The answer to the question that matters for this piece of writing… Monday 29th March 2021.

I didn’t play golf on the Monday, I thought it would be manic down my local so instead played the Tuesday afternoon with a quick nine-hole fourball at Edwalton (a course which I’ve previously reviewed here).

During lockdown I had ideas of courses to review, I planned to travel the length and breadth of the county to give you, the people of Notts, something golfing to read… I’m kind-hearted like that… But when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to play Morley Hayes… I really couldn’t refuse.

Situated on the Erewash/Amber Valley border of Derbyshire, Morley Hayes isn’t in gods own county, which left me a sticky situation, to review for Nottingham Sport or not? Initially I decided not to, but then, thinking that it really is such a splendid course, just 30 mins drive from the centre of Nottingham… I felt I just had to let you know about it.

After all, if it was average, I wouldn’t have bothered, but such a delightful course and swiftly accessible to our great city too, you’ll be glad I mentioned it if you’ve never played here, because when you do finally get to tee off midst these magnificent surroundings, you’ll be in for a high-class golfing treat which you can only but enjoy.

I arrived early last Thursday to meet a lad who I was playing from work. Driving through Ilkeston as I crossed border patrol, I took the A609 towards a course that I had only heard good things about, but never played. Sat Nav on, neck well and truly out on the look for road signs marked ‘golf course’.

I arrived in what looked like a Rugby field to my left, as I pulled down the long drive it all looked very glamourous, water fountains, signs for hotels, Tower Course, Manor Course, I pulled up to call my mate to let him know I was here and saw that I had parked in front of a helipad.

I met Zak who was shooting a few at the driving range pre-match, not your usual basket of balls, these balls came up from underneath the mat electronically. The rugby posts were not as first thought part of a pitch for the local amateur side, but were in fact targets for hitting your range balls at… Interested… I drove a couple of shots with Zak’s clubs and hit the crossbar, that was enough for me.

After hastily walking to the first tee to meet our 2:45pm slot in time, a spot of drizzle beneath the grey clouds appeared, a blustery day as the course is open to elements but greenery, glorious, the tee elevated with your drive down into a valley, a wide fairway, in distance a small (but jumpable) stream that only big hitters could hit. No problem for me, I’m well short, leaving a mid-iron to the raised green on top of the bank. A nice starter par 4, a couple of traps but nothing too heavy, then on to the next.

The second hole is slightly dog legged right to left but again is forgiving with a wide fairway. Water to the right, you shouldn’t hit it, a nice approach to a pretty routine par four will get your round underway.

This side of the course is pretty bland compared to what we’ll see later. The third hole a short par five under 500 yards, again doglegs with its only notable thinking point, a tight green which if you over hit (like I did), it will see you scrambling down from a steep bank surrounded by hedgerow.

The fourth is similar to those previous but like the first two holes par four, a touch of water in two areas makes it more strategic with two deep bunkers either side of the green unforgiving.

Five is stunning, and the start of the middle sector of the course which brings water really into play. A drive down towards a sloped fairway again slightly doglegged, a lake to the left should be avoided as you look to chip over the stream in front of the green, of which there’s plenty to aim at.

On to six a short par three in contrast of no real danger but for making the 170 yards in one go. Seven is back down a wide fairway with water to the left before a glorious eight, the best hole on the course for me.

By this time the sun is out, you may have encountered the odd duck or goose along your way, teeing off you hit straight down a flat fairway which doglegs right towards an idyllic green surrounded by water. Unforgiving, if you miss to the right, you’re in the drink, I went way left and ended in a low but pleasant bunker to scramble a par. No such luck for Zak.

Nine is back up the hill towards the complex and is a lovely dogleg right turn with a pleasant chip to a wide green that would probably do nicely for an eighteenth, not too dis-similar to the last hole here in fact, which I’ll save more info for later.

Ten is a short walk from the ninth and across the first tee, is elevated and is one you can have a real smash at, quite forgiving if you don’t quite make the slightly narrow fairway. At the green there’s water to the right but nothing too troubling, a nice hole before back up the hill to 11 which looks imposing, but really isn’t that difficult.

A 200 yard par three twelfth leads you on to another luscious looking hole, the thirteenth, elevated tee, this par five has two lakes either side of the 300 yard mark in the fairway, then it’s uphill to a green with a beautiful panoramic of the course.

Onto fourteen which is tree lined to the left, out of bounds, sloped down to the right where 17 runs back up, it’s a 375-yard par four and a good drive will have you with a straight forward mid-high club into the green. Fifteen is pretty much repeat, similar distance, similar status, a good drive will have you chipping onto the green with seven iron or higher with no danger other than going too far with your approach shot, or too left with your tee shot.

Three to play and a 161-yard par three is hole 16. Deep rough around the edge makes it tricky if you don’t hit straight, if anything the par threes are slightly disappointing at Morley Hayes, with all that water around it would have been nice to included it near a shorter hole, but each of the three par threes on course, are about as far away from any of the wet stuff as you can get.

On the home straight it’s a long par five 17 of 526 yards a forgiving fairway allows you tee off and aim for the brow of the hill with a nice downward run, the next shot brings water to play on the left edge of the green, miss that you have a couple of well sized bunkers to avoid.

Then it’s the final hole, a drive over water from a nicely elevated tee and up the hill to a green that lands you outside the 19th with a beautiful huge pavilion that wouldn’t look out of place in the United States. But for the Union Jack flag flying high in front of it of course.

In all a tremendous course. Best summed up, usually after 18 I’ve had enough, but here I wanted to carry on and play more. Whilst the front nine has some stunning looking and strategic playing holes, the back nine is more of a challenge that allows good golfers to hit straight and long, their reward for doing the right things, would be some pretty decent scores I imagine.

For me, I would happily play at Morley Hayes every day of the week. But then if I did, I would feel like I was being spoilt, and would probably appreciate it far less than I would just playing here once every so often. It’s not cheap, so it’s a nice ‘change’ from your local ‘budget’ course but if you have the money, then there’s not many better courses in the ‘region’ to play.

  • Course Looks: 9 out of 10
  • Course Quality: 9 out of 10
  • Course Difficulty: 8 out of 10

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @dannypea Morley Hayes golf course looking stunning in the spring sun.

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