Golf Course Review of Minchinhampton Old Golf Club
Minchinhampton Old Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: A rustic, old-school golf course with lots of space
Our 5 Star Rating: 3.5
Those familiar with other Gloucestershire oddities; Cleeve Cloud and Painswick, will have a sense of familiarity when they arrive at the charming and bunkerless Minchinhampton Old golf course.
Located at more than 500-feet above sea level, close to Stroud, golfers are greeted with that same motley common-land turf, iron-age fortifications, a big sense of spaciousness and lots of interesting ground undulations in proximity to the greens.
Golf has been played on The Common here since 1889 and although the course has seen some changes over the decades, mainly due to health and safety reasons because of the proximity to several roads, the essence of Minchinhampton has remained.
It’s fair to say I probably didn’t see the best of the course at the end of a very wet March and in all honesty the terribly muddy ground conditions, after some torrential morning rain, should perhaps have closed the course.
Selected as a stop-off on the way to the linksland of Devon I had high hopes that we would discover a well-draining, fast running, sandy parcel of land where the ground game would dominate but sadly that was not the case. That said, most other courses in the area would undoubtedly have been submerged under water with no chance of play at all.
Anyway, we took our chances, headed out and enjoyed the roaming layout immensely. We stayed dry but inevitably our trousers didn’t see the evening out.
From my visit I suspect the golfing proposition is much different come the summer months and is when this pleasingly simple course will excel. And it should be noted that the putting greens remained firm and ran nicely considering the time of year.
The openness of this rustic property is wonderful and I really love golf courses where this is the case. There is little chance of losing a ball here and most of the fun comes when approaching the greens. Several mounds, humps, bumps and hollows protect the greens in a similar manner to other bunker-free courses and this can ensure some awkward chips and recovery shots.
From many of the tees there is a feeling of disorientation; it is hard to see where the hole goes with very little definition, especially in the early season before the grass really starts to grow. It is that wide and flat it is sometimes difficult to pick and commit to a line.
Playing from the competition tees the round opens with two par-fives that run in opposite directions. The first requires a shaped approach to a semi-sunken green whilst the next, back up the hill (and into the wind when we played), is a bit more of a slog but boasts a nicely contoured green.
Following three rather run of the mill holes the pace quickens at the sixth and seventh. Again, both two-shotters but with much more strategy and planning required. The ninth is also a very good par-four as the course begins to move through the gears.
The set of short holes are particularly good at Minchinhampton. The 16th is arguably the best hole on the entire expansive property; played over a hollow to a green tilted against you it sits into the land so sympathetically. The eighth is also a strong one-shotter whilst the delicate tenth has a superb three-tiered green and is angled slightly from the direction of play.
Indeed many of the putting surfaces are offset to the fairway and in dryer conditions I’m sure there would have been much more strategy in approaching from the correct angle.
Onto the inward nine and the 11th is the most memorable hole due to its sunken green and its location close to a busy junction where several country lanes converge; it asks for a running appraoch but this wasn't really possible when I was there. The 13th is also a hole likely to stick in the mind due to a blind approach over a dry ditch and maybe the 17th too which is a cunning short-par four where missing on the wrong side could lead to all kinds of trouble when the course is bouncy.
Despite the mud I enjoyed the course and I'm sure I would be even more positive about it if the course had played hard and fast. There is certainly a special character to Minchinhampton Old and it’s a place I would be keen to return to in the summer.
Club Website: old.minchinhamptongolfclub.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Minchinhampton Old Golf Club.
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