Few approaches to golf clubs are as grand as the entrance to the 2,000-acre Bowood Estate. The Golden Gates are huge and imposing, the approach road passes through grounds landscaped by “Capability” Brown. This is quite something – apparently the Black Prince used to hunt here – but what is the course like?
Well, it’s essentially laid out on farmland. But don’t be put off, Dave Thomas designed Bowood, and Thomas was well-versed at subtly transforming farmland into great golf courses – you may remember he co-designed the Brabazon course at the Belfry?
Bowood opened for play in 1992, to much acclaim. Despite its agrarian beginning, this is a solid golf course, making best use of the estate’s mature woodland. There’s a fair amount of water, but rarely does it come into play because the fairways are generous. On the other hand, Bowood’s length is extraordinary – measuring a monstrous 7,300 yards from the back tees. But Thomas thought of everything, he created numerous teeing areas to cater for golfers of all standards.
There is a lovely feeling of peace and spaciousness at Bowood – it’s definitely a course of which the members are rightly proud. It is usually kept in immaculate condition and often plays every inch of its length. The pick of the holes: The 3rd, "Cascades" – a short uphill par three with the green guarded by a stream and the 17th, "Queenwood" – a huge doglegged par four (stroke index 1) with an inviting downhill tee-shot.
Bowood is a challenging West Country course, one of the best in Wiltshire. Play Bowood alongside the Manor House at Castle Combe – but make sure you take your best driving game along with you.
May 17, 2006