Golf Club Review: Oakmere (Apr 2022)

I’m not denying I’m a fair-weather golfer. I played once in December and scrapped January off completely, a couple of pleasantly dry days in Feb meant I dusted off the clubs again but after the rain I wasn’t prepared to get my feet wet, or muddy… It’s not me… Give me sunshine and hard ground, I get another fifty yards on my drives in the summer, the games hard enough without the ball getting stuck in mud.

Late March I played six holes at Edwalton before storming off sandwiched between two players who couldn’t hit a ball and one behind who was hitting it past me. I played Mapperley with a friend but fatigue got the better of me on the tiresome back nine. That same friend tempted me into getting the sticks out again Friday last for a round at Oakmere, a course I had previously played once, around twenty years ago.

It’s a course many seem to completely forget about. Just far enough north outside Nottingham to completely miss, those living on the edge, might go to Ramsdale, those venturing further out, will instead opt for the beautiful Hollinwell or Norwood, or even Rufford Abbey (which I reviewed here in November), for a cheaper round.

Oakmere is missed often because it’s on a road to nowhere, Oaks Lane splits the Old Rufford Road (A614) with the Oxton Bypass, but once you’ve programmed your sat nav in, it’s hard to ignore the drive up to the course.

A huge gated entrance and long single track driveway to a barrier that flicks up as you arrive, parking is plentiful but finding your way around isn’t straight forward. To access the club shop to pay or check in for your round, you need to go through the driving range and navigate your bag up the ramps into the courtyard.

Stunning setting it feels like an old farm shop complex just missing a few chickens in a coop, the driving range looks worth the membership alone, a putting green faces the club shop packed with clobber whilst old people, sorry fellow golfers, sit in a conservatory window drinking coffee, we don’t make the nineteenth today, my friends wife is under the weather and he’s on daughter duties later on.

The guy in the shop confusingly asks us which course we are on, my friend who sorted the booking out replies ‘I don’t know’…. Apparently there’s two courses at Oakmere, the Admiral which is a 6,753 yard beauty set in Heathland named after Robert St Vincent Sherbrooke, whilst the other, the Commanders Course, only 5,433 yards and far more basic, is named after Axel Mortensen, this course is actually nine greens with eighteen tees, thankfully, we’re on the Admiral.

Pointed out where to go, we walk towards a summer house where thankfully we’ve no one waiting to announce us in.. It’s the winter tees today but the summer tee sits on top of the hill into a narrow tree lined valley of heather beneath.

I’ve brought the wrong tees for winter mats, it’s an intimidating start, usually first holes can be quite forgiving but not this one, too far left you’re in the trees, too far right you’re out of sight, not enough distance and you’ll be left with a tricky second shot as the hole doglegs far left.

A par five of 525 yards, the winter tee actually makes this much shorter as we hit off with the ladies, I drive directly into the trees on the left before ‘laying up’ and chipping on to the front of the green with a good third. It’s a stunning opening, the self-proclaimed ‘toughest opening hole in the county’ they say. If you do hit a good drive however it opens up quite nicely and there’s plenty margin for error.

If number one was tough, number two is a little less complicated. Just 177 yards long it’s a relatively flat par three with a water trap to the right and sand bunker to the left, idyllically wrapped in high pine trees to the back, when the sunshine hits you can be forgiven for thinking you’re in Augusta.

Hole three is a relatively straight forward par four. Very flat and wide, it has a brook to the right which should be easily avoidable, two large bunkers on the left are easily reachable, anything straight you’ll have a nice wide open shot at the green.

Hole four is back on yourself to something similar, but slightly shorter, than the hole previous. I call this the Ramsdale effect, the Seeley Course has three holes like this in succession on the front nine, a little boring on the eye, perhaps too easy and magnanimous? Wide and flat, lacking character, I don’t particularly like them, but then not much to trap you on your scorecard which is a plus.

This hole has a slight slope right to left near the green which might come into play for those unlucky, my second shot started at the top of the right hand bank before rolling into the bunker on the left, the bunkers I will say are fabulous, I spent enough time in them, very challenging, proper bunkers, a good grade of sand and depthy, best to avoid if you want a decent scoring round.

Onto five and a third successive par four at just over 400 yards and not too dis-similar from those two aforementioned, but slightly more to it as it opens out to a nice wide fairway before doglegging to the right beside some trees. A bunker at the halfway mark on that right hand side is one to avoid, miss that and you should have no issues in hitting the big spacious open green.

Six is again a par four but much shorter at just 333 yards, up the slight incline as you head to the farthest point away from the clubhouse the fairway is wide before a number of large bunkers come into play around the green, miss those you’ll have a great birdy chance with a relatively flat putting mat.

The condition of the course is surprisingly splendid for the time of year, the greens are mostly good, quite bouncy, they need you to give it a push, rather than a tickle, which I (with my limited capabilities) prefer, the fairways are in nice nick and the rough is sparse, nothing too alarming other than a few trees and a small bit of water, to lose your balls in.

As the sun still shines the snow and sleet appears from nowhere, typical April and the reason of my doubt for playing still too early in the year for me, but brolly tested out and smartly back in the pocket, it’s just a quick shower before passing over, the seventh is a par five short of 500 yards with a slightly elevated drive down slope before an uphill finish. I go too far right with my tee shot and end up under the trees which are good for cover from the rain, I dig my second shot out before perfectly firing my third over a dyke that I don’t even know is there, it keeps on travelling to the brink of the green before rolling into a steep bunker giving me a tough fourth, I manage to rescue it and two putt for a bogey which I’m more than content with considering.

Ball in hand I head off to the left of the green before realising number eight is not left, but straight on, up a steep hill into the woodlands that again reminds me of Ramsdale and that treacherous trek to the back nine.

Walking up into the forest I notice a small putting mat with the narrowest of exits, ‘we’re supposed to play from here’ I say aloud…

You’re elevated with huge pine trees either side, it’s only a par three, 130 yards, there’s not much of the green you can see though, and in front of it there’s a huge bunker on the right.

I go way left as my playing partner hits the bunker, It’s certainly not an ‘easy’ par three, the green is also trickier to navigate than those previous with ever so slight undulation and it seems a lot faster. Lesson learned as I three putt to really ruin my card for the day, I’ll be back.

By now I’ve already clocked, the look of hole number nine. You can see it on your travels around the course, without knowing which hole it is, you see it in the distance, and you say not just to yourself, but to whoever you’re with… ‘That looks a bastard’… The time has come to take on the challenge.

Par 4, 284 yards, ‘that it’? you say…. Well not just that… If anyone knows Freda Avenue in Gedling, Douglas Avenue in Carlton, or Donkey Hill in St Anns, you’ll know ‘exactly’ what I mean…

My worst hole across every golf course in the whole of Nottinghamshire (and probably the world) is the 18th at Mapperley, not just because of it’s horrible layout, starting at the bottom of a hill before a colossal climb to the last unforgiving moments of your four plus hour round, but because you’ve already played seventeen tough, demanding holes before it, and you’re expected to ‘do that’…

Now the ninth at Oakmere runs it close. Hitting blind up hill, the tension on your calf muscles and hamstrings is uneasy as you search for your ball, but at least at 200 yards it flattens out, into a much nicer and flatter finish than at Mapperley’s last hole on the side of a cliff.

A large low bunker scattered in front of the green makes the dogleg a little trickier than just a ‘steep hill’ but once you’re out of trouble and life has returned to the legs, you’re quite glad its over as you hope for nothing similar upon the back nine.

This however was how I left proceedings at Oakmere, a fine Friday afternoon in the sunshine, in the snow, in the sleet, ending in more sunshine as my afternoon was cut short due to a mother and childs needs from my playing partner, I’ll be back to review the rest of the course at some point this year because of the nine played I was exasperated and enchanted enough to give it another go.

Plus they always say it’s easier the second time around, and Oakmere is very reasonably priced.

A good course, in relatively good nick, the opening hole although endearing is a very tough proposition to start but it does get simpler and less dramatic as you go around whilst flat in most places, take your caffeine tablets ahead of 8 & 9 though and remember to pack the hiking boots.

You can take a look at all my other local Golf Club reviews here with plenty more to come in 2022.

  • Course Looks: 8 out of 10
  • Course Quality: 8 out of 10
  • Course Difficulty: 7 out of 10

*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).

*Main image @dannypea the first hole at Oakmere is a stunning but teasing start.

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