The founding members of Wilmslow Golf Club played for fifteen years on a course designed by George Lowe, the first Royal Lytham & St Annes professional, before moving a couple of miles to what was then called Pownall Brow Farm in 1903.
It’s not known who laid out the new 18 holes but over the years a procession of famous architects have advised, suggested, altered and modified the course.
Early design credits have been attributed to Sandy Herd (1910), James Braid (1929) and Tom Simpson (1932) with more recent contributions coming from CK Cotton, Pennink, Lawrie and Partners (1980s), Donald Steel and Dave Thomas.
The fairways of this former tract of wooded Cheshire farmland provide a very pleasant test of parkland golf with the meandering Mobberley Brook coming into play at several holes.
The opening hole at Wilmslow Golf Club is a simple, but strategic par four that nicely sets the tone for the round as it’s one of many subtly doglegged holes to be faced.
Both the par fives on the outward nine (at 3 and 7) offer birdie opportunities to big hitters but the defensive bunkers on these two holes demand more than a modicum of respect.The short par four 11th is a highlight on the back nine and this tantalizing hole precedes tough back-to-back two-shotters at 15 and 16, followed by the last of the four short holes on the card at the 169-yard 17th.
Wilmslow is one of the many fine wooded parkland courses to be found in the tranquil Cheshire countryside. It’s also one of the oldest, the club having been founded in 1889 and relocating to its present site in 1903.
Many notable players have walked its fairways over the years - including Jacklin, Gallagher, Langer, Woosnam, Torrance and Faldo - thanks largely to the staging of the Greater Manchester Open and the Martini International in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.
Fast forward to today and whilst the 6,600-yard, par 72 layout is no longer a tour test for the World’s best players in more recent times it has still been selected as a regional qualifying course for The Open and to this day is the venue for many county championships and inter-county matches. There are many subtleties to the course which has an understated persona.
Located a couple of miles away from the town centre, within 10-15 minutes of the motorway network and not much farther from Manchester Airport, the course was presented superbly on my most recent visit in the “summer” of 2016 for the Wilmslow Crow scratch tournament. Indeed it was testament to the greenkeepers that it was in such good condition especially considering the second half of this WAGR 72 hole event, due to be played at nearby Stockport the following day, was postponed due to recent rainfall. Here the fairways were generally firm and fast running so consider it a well-draining course.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.