Dr Alister MacKenzie, the celebrated course designer, was commissioned by the Duke of Devonshire in 1923 to lay out a new 18-hole course, replacing a 9-hole course in nearby Buxton. The course at Cavendish Golf Club was ready for play two years later and it has remained virtually unchanged in character for more than three quarters of a century.
With an overall length a modest 5,721 yards and a par of 68, Cavendish holds true to a couple of MacKenzie’s design principles – that the golf course should look as natural as possible (with artificial features blending in seamlessly with the landscape) and, above all, be interesting to players of all abilities.
Cavendish has plenty to arouse the golfer – whether it be it the elevated tee position of the short par three 4th hole, the blind drive at the 8th hole, the two-tiered green on the 9th or the crescent shaped putting surface on the 13th – there’s many stimulating design features to enjoy during the round where accurate approach play is essential in making a reasonable score around here.
Even on a sunny summer's day, prepare for the wind to blow at Cavendish, part of the Duke of Devonshire's estate on the outskirts of the picturesque spa town of Buxton. Don't be surprised if you walk off the 18th wondering why you didn't score better. It may be relatively short but Cavendish holds plenty of peril - even a slightly errant shot could see a ball tumble down the banks which provide many of the greens with their elevation. Club selection can vary considerably, depending on the direction of the wind and a wrong choice can see a drift into valleys and, at worst water. Cavendish has many challenging holes but the one which hides its teeth the best is the second which seems benign from the tee but has a dip in front and wall immediately behind a heavily sloping green.
A short but challenging McKenzie course which is worth seeking out. With soft ground whenever I have played it, it therefore plays longer than the scorecard suggests, with some wonderful holes throughout the layout.
Based on the courses I have played in Derbyshire this is certainly the best of the bunch in what isn’t a strong golfing county. However Cavendish is certainly worth seeking out.
Cavendish is a magnificent piece of golf course design by the world's greatest architect - Alister MacKenzie. On the card it looks short - way less than 6000 yards - but I challenge anyone to come off thinking they have played a short course!
I enjoyed playing Cavendish so much in the dry summer of 2018 that I took the plunge and joined as a full member. It was a great decision and the 30 minute drive to the club from my home in Stockport through the beautiful Derbyshire hills is almost as enjoyable as the course itself.
At just 5,700 yards Cavendish may be on the short side in terms of length but there is nothing lacking in the amount of fun that can be had at this Derbyshire delight.
Here you will find some of wickedest and most interesting putting surfaces in the UK and a handful of wonderful green complexes.
Yes, there are a few ‘filler’ holes along the way and Cavendish is far from the complete package but if you enjoy the challenge of relatively short approaches to well-guarded, undulating greens – and where missing on the wrong side can be fatal – you will love this course.
And in truth there is some big golf required along the way too, especially when the course plays soft, which it invariable does with its valley location in the heart of the Peak District. Holes five, six, ten, 11, 16 and 18 all weigh in over the 400 yard mark and with five par-three’s, versus just one par five, the par of 68 does mean that it’s not all drive and pitch golf.
Not all of MacKenzie’s work is still intact with much of it having been tinkered with over time but the basics are undeniably still there. The routing of the course remains pretty much the same and this is a real credit to him because whilst this is a very hilly site the walk is actually relatively easy-going.
At Cavendish there are some really cool features throughout the round, most notably on and around the greens, with more than half-a-dozen outstanding golf holes. These come at the fifth, 10th, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 18th.
Cavendish may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it’s rare to find so many strong elements on a course like this and is 100% worth playing.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
A group of us played Cavendish on spec on the way back through from a Summer golf trip drawn by the McKenzie connection and positive word of mouth.
It was very damp underfoot after some recent wet weather (athough not Deluge-like) with the ball plugging in fairways, and on occasion the small area was apparent when playing around other games and up into the corner by the road.
Overall though a very friendly club in lovely surroundings, fun golf, good value and definitely worth a game.
Played cavendish for the first time in wet conditions and loved it,carnt wait to come back when it is dry because this course has everything,the greens are the most interesting greens I have ever played.ive played some great courses over the years,St Andrews,Carnoustie,loch lomond,Royal Aberdeen,trump Scotland.cavendish beats them hands down for enjoyment and cost.