Chipping Sodbury Golf Club can trace its origins back to 1905, with a 9-hole layout inaugurated on the Stub Riding the following year. The course didn’t reopen after the end of World War I and it took until 1933 for local golfers to show enough interest in bringing it back into play.
Six years later, World War II intervened and the Ridings were requisitioned for agricultural use, forcing the club into hibernation once again. A decade passed after the war ended before another 9-hole course was built on Sodbury Common and the club reinstituted.
A decision was then taken to move to Mead Riding, which would allow an 18-hole course to be constructed. Fred Hawtree was engaged to design the new layout and it duly opened to an expectant membership on 26th June 1971, with the clubhouse following five years later.
Today, the course measures 6,860 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 72. Highlight holes include the first of the par fives at the 529-yard 5th, the only par three on the back nine at the 169-yard 12th, and the left doglegging 528-yard 18th, which plays to a long, angled home green.
I played the course after a week of heavy rainfall in early October and I have to say, other than a small amount of water in a few of the bunkers, the course appeared to have dealt with the heavy rainfall extremely well.
I had no preconceptions before visiting the course and all 3 of our group left with the same opinion, this is a course that has quality both in terms of architecture and conditioning.
The green sites deserve special mention. Particularly on the front nine, the upturned saucer shaped greens are some of the most severe I have seen anywhere in the U.K. They are extremely tricky and add to the challenge of the course. In autumnal conditions, they were manageable but I can imagine facing some hellish putts when the greens are at full speed.
The other design trait of note was the requirement for taking real care in terms of club selection and strategy from the tee. Many holes are affected by water hazards and I’d advise careful use of a course planner or similar electronic device to navigate your way around the course. No more clearly is this in evidence than on the stretch 9-13 where water crosses 4 out of the 5 holes in and around the landing zone off the tee.
All in all, Chipping Sodbury was presented in excellent condition for the time of year and I’d suggest it is well worth a visit on this showing. The green fees, particularly on the weekend are at the higher end for the area but I can see why with the quality of the offering here.
Chipping Sodbury is a typical 1970's style of parkland course with numerous water hazards. I have played it a few times and twice post covid lockdown when it has been in reasonable condition; greens were quite spongy in August 2020 and consensus of opinion suggest it may not be one of the driest courses to play in winter. A good variety of interesting holes is a big plus factor; much thought is required off the tee (with clubbing) to avoid lakes and ditches, and also direction to tackle the dog-legs. Although some of the ditches do affect approach shots, I would say get the ball in play off the tee and it is scoreable. No real stand-out holes, just no weak ones; if I had to choose a favourite I would probably go for the tight uphill dog-leg 2nd where placement of the drive is crucial to avoid the trees. Only three par 3's and probably not the strongest holes although the 4th is well protected by water/ditches. Not top notch but well worth a visit and biggest compliment I would pay is a friend who travelled over 100 miles thought it good enough to want to revisit next year. For me based on summer condition should be higher in the Gloucestershire rankings.