There are many golf clubs which have impressive entrances and long, sweeping drives to the clubhouse. But there are not many which you feel should be approached on horseback or, at the very least, in a horse-drawn carriage.
That, however, is the feeling you get on passing through the stone gate posts of Orchardleigh.
Imagine you are entering a grand, old estate, with ancient woodlands, meadows, even the odd tenant-farmer or two as the meandering track wanders off to the distant clubhouse. Well, that is exactly what you are doing, for the course is set in what was part of the old Orchardleigh estate. Not only is it so evocative that you expect Henry VIII and a hunting party to burst onto the scene chasing a wild boar, but the course can be a bit of a swine, too!
Former Ryder Cup player Brian Huggett originally designed the course as two returning nines, and it is difficult to believe that it is a mere six years old.
The first of half-a-dozen lakes comes into play on the first hole, and water and those huge, mature trees will dog your footsteps all the way round to the 18th. The only way to get off lightly around this one is to keep it short and straight, and stick to the mown surface. Those tactics may cost a shot or two on holes like the majestic 526-yard par-five 12th, but they'll save you just about everywhere else.
Mr Huggett was a wily old pro, so you have to keep an eye out for some of his little tricks, which include bunker placings to trap every handicap, and danger where normally you might expect a little mercy and some safety.
A terrific course and wondrous English countryside.
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