A long awaited local golf club I first went to in July 2021 was the sublime Nottinghamshire Golf & Country Club where I reviewed the Championship Course and back then, which you can read in full here, I stated I would be returning, but this time most likely, to play at the Signature Course, so here I am for round two…
Everything always looks much better in the sun… And after a grey day drizzly visit last summer, today was much warmer, scorchio in Stragglethorpe, a belter of a day in fact… The last Friday in April too, A ten am tee time, I headed down the back roads, through Cotrgrave, after a quick pit stop at Tollerton Petrol Station which is now impressively a Waitrose, I was early and it’s morning after a night out, ‘schoolnight’ you say, but this was a works leaving do which I attended out of respect until exiting sensibly well before midnight, a bit worse for wear though, I needed a pick me up along with my unleaded, a can of red bull and a hot (or slightly warm) bacon and cheese turnover for breakfast.
I arrived early, down the long drive towards the club house and past those idyllic cottages in the grounds opposite the driving range, pulling up dangerously near to the back of the twelfth hole, to get out my (wife’s) car and eat my turnover without spilling crumbs on her internals.
Strapping up my bag I headed to the putting green and attempted to knock a few balls in before ‘the lads’ arrived… Not going too well, the green is super-fast with more undulation than Augusta, if this is what’s to come I’m thinking I might just head off home now?
Saved from chasing my putt from down the hill, I’m ushered out by a mate of mine after one of my friends calls to say he’s been here an hour… I walk up the hill, trolley in front, through the car park and over the intimidating looking eighteenth on the Signature Course to the first, as someone in a golf cart asks us where the ‘practice area’ is.. I point fingers but really haven’t a clue?
The first hole is nice, wide, short, flat, a par four playing from the whites which are placed in exactly the same location today as the yellows, 323 yards in all with an avoidable dyke (for me) around 280 in.
It offers a nice chance to get a good start before a dog leg par five second has you avoiding water to the left and approaching yet another dyke down the middle, it has water to the right near the green, and now to the left, I think club owner Alan Hardy likes digging holes, because the water to the left is new, ‘It wasn’t here last time I played’ says one of my playing partners as they splash straight in.
I’m one for one after two and ticking along nicely for my capabilities but the third short par three plays havoc with our four ball. Three out of our four hit water, not only that, the same three go again and all hit water again…Lucky we’re playing Stableford today, we’ll blob that one.
It’s only 180 yards in length but for some reason when there’s water around you approach things differently. I won’t tell you what I hit because you’ll laugh, but between us we tried everything from pitching wedge to driver, with same effect… Plonk.
Not a great hole but one I certainly want another crack at (it only needs a bloody 7-iron you scream), we’re onto the fourth which is a lot less menacing, another short par four with no wet hazards of note, in fact of all the front nine it is the only one with no water in play… Not that the majority of the water is as apparent as the Championship Course in comparison, it seems a lot less harsh and a little more forgiving for anything pulled or hooked (you’ll be relieved to know after the two at the third I didn’t lose any more balls).
The 400 yard fifth hole is slightly longer than the fourth (by forty yards) but another par four, the dyke in front of the green littered by bunkers offers a bit of complexity but I find it easy, with the course being flat, and relatively short, compared to my nearest at Edwalton (6,566) it’s a cool 500 plus less in distance at 6032, the Championship Course in comparison is 6403 from the black tees, and also has much more water in play.
Onto six, a short par three which is fairly bland, I’m finding my way back to respectability following my double drink at the third, the seventh is a dog leg par four with water to the left, avoid that and you’ve a nice run in down to the green.
Now this is where the course gets confusing, the eighth used to be a short par three before the ninth back towards the clubhouse (which is now the 17th & 18th) so instead you head over the road, through the electric gates, and cross over to what used to be the 14th, to play a par five back on yourself. A nice narrow left to right of 488 yards.
After which, it’s an elevated tee down to the ninth which doglegs to the left with some more of the wet stuff on the right of the green.
Navigate that, you’ve a short par three again over water on the tenth, this time I fair much better before moving onto the eleventh and a nice hole which curves around the outside of the course with water on left, out of bounds on the right, a par five 521 yards is the longest of them all, before an approach over water left circling front and back of the green although those playing safe can do so by going right. Give it a go… I dare you!
Hole number twelve is back up towards the driving range on the hill to the left and running up to the clubhouse and car park, it’s dog leg left and I’ll be honest despite its short length, I didn’t know where I was going. One friend told me I can cut off the dog leg by hitting over the hill, that friend reached the fringe of the green whilst my ball nestled on the bank in the rough. An uphill chip to the green however should ensure it’s not quite as daunting as first thought… Danger is also that you can go too far right (where remember, my wife’s car was parked).
Onto thirteen, which tees from outside the driving range, high up on a hill you aim for two trees in the middle of the fairway and it’s a straight forward, but long par four of 425 yards to navigate. 14 is a shorter par four of 340 yards over a little bit of water which shouldn’t really come into play.
Four from home, the fifteenth is an interesting one, hitting almost blind to a huge left hand dog leg, idea is to set up on top of the hill and chip down into the valley with your second shot, beginners luck was getting on the green, as for newbies it’s not the most easiest to navigate.
Much simpler is the par three sixteen which was the only hole I birdied on the day, 180 yards I actually hit the fringe but held the putt to come good and all but take the fourball victory in doing so, my 37 points from the round perhaps down more to the handicap I gave than performance, but a win’s a win they say, they all count the same.
The second last is back over the zebra crossing and through those electric gates, watching out for cars of course and an unusual par three as you have to aim through a narrow opening between two trees, it’s pretty bland and disappointing as I fall short, but better things to come, the eighteenth is a real belter of a hole.
The signature on the signature, it’s 463 yards and a par five with a small dyke crossing the fairway at half way. The hole when you get there is surrounded by water to the left and around the back and sides, leaves no margin for error, which makes it even more perfect when you par or do better.
The approach is stunning, that up and down onto the dancefloor most rewarding when hit right, but if you get it wrong it could be a horrible finish in the blue dyed water.
I’m not sure why the water is dyed blue, aesthetics are important yes, but swans waltzing around with dye on them from the water doesn’t sit that right with me, perhaps my only qualm on the day where I had otherwise very little complaints?
As for the course, my fear of the greens (from putting practice) was soon ridden, a lot of grass, bouncy, flat, give it a push, don’t be shy… The fairways immaculate, striped, the fringes well kept and trimmed too, the Signature did have a couple of inadequacies (a couple of ropey tyre marks through greens) but what golf course doesn’t, in all though it was in fine nick, is easy for all ages to get around and is quite forgiving, I probably even preferred it to the Championship Course, based on my limited capabilities of short distance hitting.
Saving the best until last though, the clubhouse patio onlooking the Championship eighteenth and first tee, is even better when the sun is shining and I could have quite honestly sat their all day. Worth the membership fee alone? Only if they had a bus stop outside to collect you and your bag.
A cracking course, an even better club appeal too, certainly one of the best in the county I’ve played and you can see why it is now doing well with golfing weekenders… I said previously I’ll be back, now I’ll happily guarantee it won’t be so long when I return, the only decision next is which course I’ll prefer, and what drink to have on the nineteenth.
- Course Looks: 8 out of 10
- Course Quality: 9 out of 10
- Course Difficulty: 8 out of 10
*Article provided by Daniel Peacock (Editor).
*Main image @dannypea the signature course in stunning condition beneath the sunshine.