Cavendish - Derbyshire - England

Cavendish Golf Club,
Watford Road,
Buxton,
Derbyshire,
SK17 6XF,
England


  • +44 (0) 1298 79708

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.

Architect Jonathan Gaunt, who has been a playing member at Cavendish Golf Club since 2010, started a renovation project at the club in 2020, remodelling bunkers to a MacKenzie style and thinning out woodlands to recover lost views across the course. The plan originally focused on holes 10 and 11, considered to be two of the best on the layout. It's intended to have all of the work completed in time for the club's centenary in 2025.

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Reviews for Cavendish

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Description: Cavendish Golf Club is an undulating and partially wooded layout set within the Duke of Devonshire's estate. This MacKenzie course offers wonderful views over the Peak District. Rating: 6.9 out of 10 Reviews: 27
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Greg Watson

Made my annual pilgrimage to meet a friend to play at Cavendish in early June. I have been coming to play the course for 12 years straight now, and its great to see the club and course vibrant again after the near disaster a few years ago.

Nothing to add about the course that has not already been said, give the place a try and you will enjoy testing yourself on the greens using imagine you never thought you had.

July 26, 2022
6 / 10
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Russell Rice

Aug 2021 - golf week. first visit stunning scenes and course layout, not the longest but a real test for all. very tight in places with the perfect tee shot and shape required #ThinkersCourse loved the day out. only downside is getting there :-( 2.5hrs for 82 miles in summer traffic. best option play a few days in the area. worth the effort all the same and the welcome was lovely all day.

June 19, 2022
8 / 10
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Paul Howard

Cavendish Golf Club is not Beyoncé. She’s not smashing records at the Box Office. She’s not Louis Vuitton or Gucci. Cavendish isn’t LivGolf, with a brass band welcoming you from the friendly welcoming clubhouse to the first tee.

The thing is Cavendish Golf Club doesn’t try to be. What the club does is offer the best golf course in Derbyshire and one of the finest in England for under fifty pounds. For she deserves her place in Englands Top 100.

I was due to play a far more famous golf course as part of my birthday. My best friend Mr Morrissy though had heard of this little course and given the cheaper green fee we made the 90 minute drive to it. The club Professional was so welcoming and I thought abruptly told us, ‘we’d be back’, even before we set off. Oh how right he was. We actually played 11 holes, had lunch then 18 holes. Mr Marshall, the Club Pro, charged my friend just £50 for the day.

I won’t go into detail about all the holes. It’s a hard walk at times and it’s anything but flat. Some holes can be strange, (I wasn’t far off from driving the 403 yard 16th). It only has one Par 5, and their are 5 Par 3s. It isn’t a long course. However in typical fashion Dr Alistair McKenzie puts together some unbelievable greens. I get the comparisons between Cavendish and Augusta. Mr Morrissy hit it too long on the 15th but found a ball trickling back off the slopes to within 6 feet. Granted he still didn’t dare to try and use enough pace to go past the hole with the putt. I found myself out of position on the short 2nd and 3rd holes by small margins. I was only left with 30 yard pitch shots but couldn’t find a way to get near the hole. It’s probably the courses only defence. The course clearly has an ability to toughen up by changing pin positions. I think it would be fun to play it when they do.

This course is value for money. The place is in amazing condition. You won’t see it featuring on a British Open or Ryder Cup rota. There isn’t any plaques telling you that someone drove the hole on route to winning some famous trophy. If you want your Jurassic Park with popcorn to tell your mates ‘you’ve seen it’, then this isn’t for you. But if you come to see this show then don’t be surprised if you want to see it over and over again.

June 15, 2022
7 / 10
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4 people found this review helpful

mark Bradshaw

Just played Cavendish on a beautiful warm, windless day. Settings and views second to none, the beauty surrounding the course is breathtaking. The course itself looks at first sight as if its going to be a difficult walk but the holes are surprisingly easy to get around, tee boxes are neat and tight, fairways are well groomed and challenging, not the longest course with only one par 5 and five par 3s but the real challenge are the greens which i personally have never experienced before, so many slopes and levels made the course as good as any I've played so far in my 3 years of playing 34 different courses.100% recommend this course on a fair weather day.

April 29, 2022
8 / 10
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Andy Cocker

'Inspiration for Augusta' is the strapline on the Club's website. Well for me, after watching a memorable and highly entertaining Masters over the weekend, it was the Masters that inspired me to go back and play Cavendish today. My 1st visit in over 10 years.

And who am I to question this strapline? Jonathan Gaunt, Golf Architect and Committee Member of the Alister Mackenzie Society, has indeed wrote a short paper entitled 'The Course That Inspired Augusta' in which the question is asked how much influence did the design of the course at Cavendish...have upon Augusta National? His answer - "well, probably quite a bit"

Whilst leaving the merits of the strapline to others to debate over, for me the return to Cavendish was a wonderful, if rather blustery experience. The wind direction constantly changed, with eddies and swirls, one second in your face, the next blowing across you, all the time the flag on the previous green not moving at all! Those swirls were reminiscent of the wind at Augusta at the weekend for sure!

And what a pleasure it was to play so many Mackenzie greens again, all on the one course.

What I also loved was on the par 3's - 13th and 15th - the banking backstop which meant that you could pitch the ball on to the bank behind the green, knowing that the ball would return to the putting surface.

The greens had just been cut and ran quick, with so many clever breaks in them. You encounter your 1st Mackenzie green on hole 2, and if you needed reminding of the need to pitch your approach on the right tier, you get that early in the round!

After what would be a gentle start, without any wind blowing, over the 3 opening holes, the course steps up a notch with the downhill 122 yard par 3, played from an elevated tee, across a brook, with banking and bunkers to the right and a pond to the left. With a strong left to right wind, I played out over the left hand side of the green, only to see my ball move 30 yards right in the air!

The course then really gets going with a 420 yard par 4, played slight left to right, with a brook running down the right hand side for anyone who turns their fade into more of a slice!

And then my favourite part of the course - holes 6 and 7 (and also 17) are played amongst mature stands of pine trees, beautifully shaping the holes and in particular as backdrops to the greens.

You finish the front 9 with a blind tee shot on 8 and another excellent par 3, played again downhill and over water to a green that is banked on all sides, and where the green is two tiered, the higher part being of a square design.

This hole and holes 10 - 13, reminded me of another design by Mackenzie, Reddish Vale, where the course plays down into a lower valley for a number of the holes, before climbing again back up the hillside.

In this stretch, hole 10 is tough, with any errant shot to the left caught up in the hazard or penal rough, plus the forced carry to a green high above you.

Hole 13, as mentioned above, has a grass bunker to the front left, but from that angle, if you find yourself there, you can 'throw' the ball beyond the flag, onto the banking behind and see it return to the green.

The final stretch starts with the only par 5, played dog leg around the farmers field stone wall, and to a wicked green, with a severely sloping front part of the green, and the flag positioned on the plateau. Bunkers protect the entrance left and right. The key is to get the approach shot onto the top tier and check so as not to either run back down off the front or go through into the rough at the rear.

And it's a quality final stretch. 2 more par 3's, the best being the 15th, but the 17th is so pretty on the eye, and 2 excellent par 4's mixed in. The final hole really demonstrates the architects ability to use the natural contours of the land, but provide you with landing options for your drive in doing so. Like holes 2 and 10, the green sits across a valley so a forced carry is required.

Jonathan Gaunt is undertaking renovation and improvement work and the work carried out on the bunkers is exemplary. White, top quality sand, reminiscent of Augusta's is being used and the bunkers remodeled. These stand out on each hole. In addition some trees are being removed and cut back to open the course back up to it's more moorland beginnings. Personally whilst I like the openness of this varied and interesting property, holes 6,7 and 17, played into and through the pine trees remains my favourite part.

Augusta it isn't - it's Cavendish and rightly so it's the best course in Derbyshire and often a contender for England Top 100 on various listings over the years. It can rightly be proud of it's own heritage and I would recommend a day trip out to go and play it.

April 11, 2022
6 / 10
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T P Dean

The joys of Cavendish do not just start when you set foot on the course, but on the beautiful, winding journey here. Cavendish is located near Buxton, in the heart of the Peak District, the backbone of England, which offers some of the country’s finest walks. The walk at Cavendish however should never be a good walk spoilt, as this fine course was laid out by none other than golf course architecture’s Master Craftsman, Dr Alistair Mackenzie; Cavendish Golf Club itself being home to the Mackenzie Golf Society. It’s somewhat shameful on us as golfers therefore, that this club nearly became bankrupt during the first Covid-lockdown. Fortunately, I’d assume that Derbyshire’s no. 1 ranked golf course is now on a more stable financial footing, and I hope that it’s a club that subsequently goes on to prosper.

The reason for Cavendish’s financial woe is certainly nothing to do with the course itself, but likely due to its location. Buxton itself is no thriving metropolis, and the larger urban areas in the region are too far away for Cavendish to get high numbers of visitor traffic. This maintains green fees below £40. Surely there can’t be many other golf courses with the architectural heritage of Cavendish that will charge as little?

Capturing my thoughts of some of the holes, aside from a couple of excellent greens (a recurring theme at Cavendish), the first three holes set to the side of the clubhouse serve as good getaway holes but nothing more remarkable. The first eye-catching hole comes at the splendid little drop-shot par three 4th hole with a green that’s set back over a stream and a large bank to one side with a pond to the other.

I’ll describe the course in its current order of holes, but I did in fact play the course in its original Mackenzie routing which I felt is more balanced than today’s sequence of holes, the original routing avoids the majority of Cavendish’s strongest holes predominantly coming into play on the back nine.

The front nine culminates with another par three where the tee is elevated above the green, a green that I understand was rebuilt. Whilst word on the street is that this green is seemingly not to everyone’s tastes, I personally enjoyed its imaginative contouring. I would also repeat similar sentiments at the short 15th, a hole that, in this case, I think is unchanged from its original, and rightly so since this is the best of the short holes with a brilliantly awkward and tilted putting surface that will never have you feeling comfortable when standing over a putt.

Away from the par threes, the 10th hole must be the course’s signature. This is a glorious and long par four played over a couple of wonderfully natural chasms, etched into the earth by the erosion from the burn that passes through the course. It’s a tough hole too, over 420-yards with forced carries, it’s a nerve jangler and demands good ball striking. The par five 14th, the only par five on the card, with the dry stone wall lining the out-of-bounds to the adjacent farmland was another good hole, making the most of this man-made feature. But it was another excellent green with a severe false front that personally left me in tatters; three times it took me to putt my way up to the top of the plateau as the pin was devilishly perched just on top of the change in gradient – a true greenkeeper’s revenge. The turn home is made in front of the rustic-looking farmhouse that overlooks the course in a picture-perfect way that only the English countryside can deliver, whilst the 18th would be my other main hole of note. Like the 10th, this is a fiercely challenging par four over an undulating and unbalanced surface. A par here to complete the round would make a post-round drink in the clubhouse taste that little bit sweeter.

I don’t think Cavendish is devoid of its shortcomings. There’s a modestly sized team of greenstaff here so perfectly kept surfaces are unlikely, and some areas of the ground were a little softer under-foot than optimal, but course improvements are already underway through the careful guidance of course designer, Jonathan Gaunt. Bunkers are currently in the midst of being renovated so there is a mixture of bunkering styles at the moment between the new and the old, but I expect that the club will be quickly upgrading them all to meet the same spec.

The bare bones at Cavendish are plainly clear to see for anyone who plays here, and I do hope that the next couple of year’s work will see the course achieving its rightful potential.

Cavendish’s website uses the marketing tagline “The course that inspired Augusta”. Whether it did or not can be debated, I’m sure many of Mackenzie’s previous works inspired the home of the Masters, but what can’t be debated is that this is a must-visit for all course enthusiasts. It’s a course that combines charm and excellent design qualities proving to be a delightful place to escape to the country for a few hours.

September 16, 2021
6 / 10
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James Stephens

Lovely course. Very well maintained and good greens. Over-hyped a little but nevertheless still an excellent course. Keep an eye out for their Open days - absolute bargain day out.

September 05, 2021
6 / 10
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Andy Dunster

Really enjoyed this gem of a course, not very long but the greens make up for that definitely one I will return to play again.

August 18, 2021
8 / 10
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Robert Legnar

Probably the most fun I've ever had on a golf course. Playing just over 5500 yards, MacKenzie makes you wonder why a golf course needs to be any longer. Leaving yourself on the correct side of the fairway or green means the difference of a couple of shots and kept me drooling at the creativity sometimes needed to get out of a tough spot (that I put myself in).

I went to name the holes that were pure joy and I ended up naming 14/18 holes! I'll be returning next month and can't wait to smile all the way round again.

Thank you golf god's for keeping this gem in its original glory.

August 16, 2021
8 / 10
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Philip Johnson

I've struggled rating Cavendish to be honest because I can't genuinely rate it higher than a 4.5 but in terms of value for money it is almost certainly a 6. £22 for a round here (admittedly later in the afternoon) just seems absurd when compared to the green fees I regularly pay in Surrey.

What an enjoyable course. The first three holes are probably the weakest architecturally on the course but still challenging and the green complexes add to their quality. After that the course really changes complexion and at times gave me an extremely strong recollection of the Blue course at the Berkshire.

Conditioning was good if not verging on great in an area where the weather probably poses it's own challenges and the greens were at a great speed and ran very true.

A word on the green complexes - the courses main defence and they were absolutely out of this world. Extremely challenging but wonderful and allowed for some creative shots. Imagining playing Augusta on similarly contoured greens but at stimp of 13 plus gave me a shiver down the spine.

I struggle to understand how this is not in the England top 100 if not the UK especially if considering value for money.

August 02, 2021
7 / 10
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Andy Cocker
August 02, 2021

Hi Phil, enjoyed your review and throws an interesting aspect to the rankings debate. Cavendish generally ranks on most listings in the 100 - 200 ranks but if you put a limit on the green fees as a ranking filter, then it would certainly rank very highly indeed.