Had the chance to play Cotswold Golf Club in Chipping Norton at the start of the Easter weekend, what a gorgeous sunny day it was, so glad I picked the Friday and not Easter Monday. I was going to play with my dad who accompanies me quite often on my golfing adventures but he was injured so my cousin Tony stepped up to the challenge of beating me.
Now my cousin had not struck a golf ball since last Summer and I last strolled a fairway in October so we made crazy decision to play strokeplay instead of matchplay or stableford! There would be no pickups or gimmies in this round of golf, every shot good or bad, was going to count.
The opening hole has out of bounds down the left but the sloping left to right fairway is just asking for a drive down that side. A couple of bunkers on the right are within reach from the tee so you can’t just decide to play safe. The left to right theme continues on the green where a drop off on the right will usher balls away from the putting surface. Both drives were good but we came up just short of the green on our approaches and ended up posting two sixes.
The second is a dogleg right but with a sharp right turn just short of the green it is shaped more like a hockey stick. I manage to drive up the left to open up the green but Tony drove straight toward the bunker on the right of the fairway and left himself a completely blind approach. He played it well mind you and found the left edge of the green, I however had gone slightly too far up the left and now had tree branches blocking my view of the green. Tony managed a par, I posted another six. I forgot to mention our handicaps earlier, mine is 12 and Tony plays off 20.
The first short hole is over water but you would really have to have a bad one to get wet. There is a steep bank before and after the green so it is better to be long than short here. We both hit the green, taking one more club than the yardage suggests because of the wind but I three putted and Tony made par.
A short par four follows giving a good chance for a birdie, watch out for the bunker on the right, at about 200 yards it can be carried but does not have to be. If you drive well you will be left with just a short pitch into the green. I drove up the left into the line of trees but managed to find the green with a blind approach with a wedge. Tony hit a wonderful drive smack down the middle of the fairway but chunked his wedge. I missed my birdie putt but managed my first par, Tony ended up with a six.
Back to back par five’s are up next, both under 500 yards so sensible play should secure par’s where adventurous golfers may be looking for birdies. The shorter of the two is the more tricky in my opinion as the stream and uphill approach to the green make it very difficult to go for the green in two. This is where Tony had a nightmare, finding the stream and ending up with a nine! I however managed to play both holes sensibly and posted two sixes.
The seventh is a par 4 played back down the hill so should be an easy par but we both missed the fairway from the tee and ended up with a five’s. The following hole is the longest par 3 on the course, it has water but this does not really come into play. We both misjudged the wind here and ended up short of the green, I managed to save par and Tony carded a four.
The final hole on the front loop is played uphill back toward the clubhouse, a slight left to right shot from the tee will leave an approach that does not require going over bunkers. Both tee shots were solid but our approaches missed the green and we both ended the front nine with a bogey five.
The tenth is a par 3 over a valley, the tee and green are at about the same level but the wind certainly makes a difference here. I just missed the green pin high left, Tony found the valley and then went about 20 yards past the green. I carded a four and my playing partner just about scraped through with a five.
The only par 5 on the back nine follows, the tee shot should be aimed at the large Ash tree on the left as the fairway will feed your ball back to the middle. The same goes for your second shot, which if struck well could make the green if you get a good run off the left bank. Now I’ve told you how the hole should be played but we didn’t follow my advice, I carded a six, Tony a seven.
The shortest par 4 on the course is driveable or you could reach the putting surface with a 7-iron and a wedge. We did neither but still came away with two par’s. The thirteenth is a tricky par 4 where approach from the left is best. The fairway drops down to the green which helps anything that falls short but we both struggled here posting a six and a seven.
The next hole is a right to left dogleg, take care with your approach as it played shorter than the yardage suggested, I would advise a club less than you think. Amazingly we both made par here but made up for it by both missing the green on the next hole which just happens to be the shortest on the course!
There is a strange setup on the sixteenth, you tee off over the previous green so you have to make sure it is clear. Bunkers await down the right and four of them also surround the green so I suppose it was no surprise that we both found the sand. We both carded a five and made our way to the seventeenth tee which requires a good drive over a hedge unless you manage to hit one straight down the middle.
Tony found the hedge, I didn’t get a great drive away but did manage to clear it. There are more bunkers surrounding this green and if you do not get a great drive away you really should lay up short. I managed a five after escaping the sand but Tony had a nightmare with the hedge and carded an eight.
The final hole is played back towards the clubhouse and requires an approach over the valley. Check your yardage to the green for your approach as anything short will roll back, I found this out to my cost and ended up finishing with a seven whereas Tony signed off with a five. We didn’t play to our handicaps but both ended with the same ball we started with so must have played a bit of decent stuff.
At just over 6000 yards Cotswold may be considered a little short by some but I enjoyed myself and I reckon the course looks stunning in the Summer. If anyone is interested Tony beat me by four shots on our Net scores, I still don’t think he should play off 20!