Thinking of taking a trip to one of the Leaderboard’s great golfing venues? Well this might be just the info you need to take on their Signature Holes. Taking the advice of the professionals at the clubs we’ve gone and sought out the inside information on the course…all the way from where to hit it off the tee to which side of the green to leave it on. So, if you want the inside track on the courses read on…
First off is Sandford Springs, a beautiful parkland course located amongst the rolling Berkshire and Hampshire hills. With the original 18 designed by 6-time Major Winner Sir Nick Faldo and former Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallagher in 1989, the course has now been expanded to 27 holes and provides a great variety of holes, offering a test for all golfers. Here are our top three holes and tips on how to play them from the resident pro…
No 3- Hole 22 (Lakes)
Stroke Index: 5
Yardages: 403 (White), 393 (Yellow), 308 (Red)
Looking down the 22nd will certainly be daunting for any golfer. For the bigger hitter, a fade is required as they have to steer it through the trees, so not to leave themselves cut out from the hole with the opposing woods that stare you in the face. For the shorter hitter, a rescue may be required for your second, as the fairway slopes your ball away from a green which is heavily protected by bunkers.
Positional play here is the key to making par, and even leaving yourself short of the green on your second will give you a higher chance of an up and down as out the back is out of bounds!
No 2-Hole 14 (Woods)
Stroke Index: 15
Yardages: 160 (White), 140 (Yellow), 132 (Red)
Don’t be fooled with the high stroke index on this hole, this par 3 will test anyone’s iron play. Sheltered from the wind by the large rhododendrons and trees, picking the right yardage can be testing.
Aiming down the right of the hole can favourable in the summer as it can provide a member’s bounce back into the heart of the green. However, if left on the right be frightened of the chip coming back, as the green slopes all away from you and can leave you with an even longer chip coming back!
No 1-Hole 9 (Park)
Stroke Index: 12
Yardages: 317 (White), 307 (Yellow), 296 (Red)
Newly renovated for 2015, this hole with its new tee box is a great advert for Sandford Springs Golf Club. Although not the longest Par 4 in the County, it is a joy to play as well as having to make you think about your golf game.
Off the tee box some may only need an iron so that it can bound down the hill toward the water protecting the green. From here you face substantial threats of water, bunkers and out of bounds, so a well struck wedge is a must if you are to avoid catastrophe from this hole.
But if all has gone to plan and you find yourself on the green in two there’s no reason why you can’t finish with a birdie.
Accuracy is a lot more important here than distance, so make sure to take a club off the tee you feel confident of finding the short stuff with.
The Oxfordshire is an extraordinary parkland course in the sense that it is shaped in an American mould by designer Rees Jones. Despite only opening in 1989, the course has already hosted the Anderson World Matchplay, the English Ladies Open and the Benson & Hedges International. The course provides a great championship test and this is shown no more so than the selection of both the 8th and 17th being named in Golf Magazine’s top 500 signature holes in the world.
Stroke Index: 10
Yardages: 359 (Blue), 341 (White), 313 (Yellow), 285 (Red)
The 8th hole is a hazardous par 4 measuring 340 yards from the white tees, and doglegs around the lake. The green is sited on an island peninsula where a sentry oak stands guard. The sensible way to play this hole is a long iron from the tee and a short iron to the green, but as a risk and reward hole, the longer hitter can possibly drive this green, although this brings all the trouble into play.
Stroke Index: 5
Yardages: 599 (Blue), 582 (White), 516 (Yellow), 456 (Red)
The 17th hole is The Oxfordshire’s nerve racking signature hole, a par 5 with a right to left dogleg. A huge lake runs all the way down the left of the fairway and the green is opposite the lake. The safe but longer route is to play around the water, but if you’re feeling ambitious, you can go for it across the lake with your second shot.
Dale Hill boasts two stunning championship courses in the Woosnam and Old Course. While the former was designed in 1997 by Ryder Cup legend and US Masters winner Ian Woosnam, its predecessor in the par 69 Old Course was designed some 35 years ago and has certainly stood the test of time. Below, we give you the gems of the courses, with tips from a man who couldn’t know the course any better. John Tolliday, director of golf at Dale Hill for 10 years, has given us the ins and outs of the courses signature holes.
Hole 9 – Woosnam Course
Stroke Index: 8
Yardages: 401 yards (White), 369 (Yellow), 295 (Red)
Woosnam’s 17th is played onto a raised fairway, before there is an acute dogleg right and the fairway slopes downhill. The approach shot requires the golfer to hit over a ravine to a green surrounded by an uphill bank and with bunkers both left and right.
It is important to find the fairway off tee. The further left you go, the longer and more difficult the second shot will be, especially when finding the long rough. The repercussions may become even more severe when missing right, and a left to right bank of long rough may mean that the trees to the right of the ravine ahead may block your view to the green and that reaching in two is unlikely. Depending on how far right or left you go, it may be wise to lay up in front on the ravine in order to save yourself from further damage to the scorecard!
Hole 17 – Woosnam Course
Stroke Index: 7
Yardages: 327 (White), 293 (Yellow), 252 (Red)
Woosnam’s signature hole plays as a short par 4 with a ditch lying directly in front of the green. However, do not come under the illusion that the hole’s yardage is an indication of its difficulty. With trees either side, the fairway is narrow and the hole is challenging from all tees.
Finding the fairway is paramount on this hole and a long iron or hybrid should be used so that you are left with a pitch over the small ditch in front of the green. Realistically, as the hole doglegs slightly right, laying up is the only option, and the trees lining the right side will be too high to clear for most players. Ideally, the bank on the left hand side of the fairway should be found, in order to allow the green to open up for an approach shot which should be no longer than a pitching wedge. A thought provoking hole, and although there is the temptation of a reachable green for the big hitters, any attempt is unlikely to come good.
Hole 15 – Old Course
Stroke Index: 11
Yardages: 177 (White), 163 (Yellow), 107 (Red)
There is little bailout for the Old Courses 11th, and the hole requires a shot over a small ravine and onto an undulating green that doesn’t leave you an easy putt.
As there is undergrowth lying around the green there is little margin for error and the safe shot would actually be to aim front right of the green so that if you miss you will hit a bunker. A hole which has the potential to be a real score wrecker on the card when missing the green!
Hole 13 – Old Course
Stroke Index: 13
Yardages: 349 (White), 319 (Yellow), 299 (Red)
Do not judge this hole from the tee box. Despite a fairly open first 220 yards, this is followed by a blind second shot over a hill and down to a green lying quite low down. From the approach, there are trees lined down both sides of the fairway and behind the green, leaving little margin for error.
On the 13th, the shorter you go off the tee, the more difficult the approach shot will be, as the view will be determined by your position in relation to the hill. This is a real risk-reward hole where in the summer, it may well be possible for the big hitters to have a shot at the green by trying to drive it over the top off the hill and run it down the fairway. Beware though, it you’re hitting left or right of the fairway, the chances are that you will lose your ball in the thick rough. A fantastic hole, especially for those confident of hitting a long, straight driver!
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