One of two 18-hole layouts at the Marriott Breadsall Priory Hotel & Country Club, the Priory course, built by property developer David Cox, opened in 1977 before the newer Donald Steel-designed Moorland course debuted in 1991.
The Priory (named after the 13th-century priory, of which only a single arch remains) features mature tree-lined fairways which demand accuracy from the first tee to the eighteenth green.
The better of the 2 parkland courses at this resort style set up.
The course starts very much as it means to go on, a short Par 4 measuring 319 yards but as with so many of the holes a sloping fairway (on the 1st from right to left). A raised green with a big drop off to the left and bunker on the right. The 2nd is a mid-length Par 3, with the 3rd hole again has a massively sloping fairway – this time left to right. From the first few holes the golfer can figure out what is in store, plenty of trees, serious undulations.
The first of only two Par 5’s is the 4th hole, relatively flat but best to favour the left side, for an approach to a raised green with a bank behind. Going down the right = trees, and the approach is tough too with the greens sloping from right to left.
The highlight of the front nine is the 7th hole, a long Par 4 playing 451 yards with a slight dog-leg left to right. Anything left is safe, but leaves a wood or hybrid for the approach. Tiger line takes the ball over the trees on the right of the fairway. A sloping green from back to front means par is a good score here, to most golfers, maybe a Par 5 in reality.
The Priory front nine ends with a hole which on paper looks easy, a Par 4 measuring only 272 yards, but to reach the green, you’ll have to carry the ball the full 270 yards over tall trees or hit a perfect fade as the green is 90 degrees left of the fairway. A very tricky hole with the green sloping severely from back to front and left to right.
The back nine starts in the same way as the front nine ends, with a quirky hole. From the tee the green isn’t visible on this Par 4 dog leg uphill, right to left hole. Option 1 is to hit a mid-iron to the end of the fairway or as only 315 yards to the green, for the longer hitters the other option is to hit blind over the trees and hope to get the ball close to chip on.
Moving onto Breadsall’s “famous” hole, the 11th and it’s arguably the courses signature hole. From a hugely elevated tee, over the road to the hotel onto a tree lined fairway, the golfer if straight can get the ball close to the green some 363 yards away! Breath-taking views are a huge feature of this hole; you won’t fail to be impressed. The 12th hole runs parallel and the green is raised, again with a bank behind and a two tiered green playing back over the road. The 13th is a brilliant hole, a short Par 4 which through the trees doglegs almost 90 degrees right to left. You tee off from an elevated tee only to play back up to the green which is above the fairway another vicious green sloping from left to right.
On the card the 15th looks like a brute of a hole. Measuring 462 yards, after a blind tee shot and a left to right fairway slope, the hole drops down impressively to a green well protected by bunkers, this shortens the hole negating the distance of the hole. Stunning hole visually with water right and long. 16th works in the opposite direction, the tee is below the green and the fairway gradually rises the closer you get to the guarded green. 424 yards on the card, this hole plays considerably longer.
The 17th gives the 11th on The Priory course a run for its money for the signature hole title, and for me would win it. Measuring 184 yards this Par 3 is as the 15th the green is well below the golfer. Club selection is key, bunkers front left, right and a water hazard long. 18th is a short par 5, with the hotel directly behind the green, another sloping fairway from left to right to finish, with a raised green which slopes from back to front and left to right, a great chance to end with a birdie.
The whole course is interesting, greens especially good. I’d say a lot of the holes would benefit from local knowledge, with the sloping fairways, trees and dog-legs throughout the course to catch players out. That said, only a few holes demand length and accurate shots should be rewarded.
Would recommend as an overnight stop and play the Moorland course as well.