In the early 1990s, after Frilford Heath had secured a substantial parcel of farmland next to the existing Red course, architect Simon Gidman set to work fashioning a third 18-hole layout for the golf club. To gain access to the acreage for the new Blue course, four of the holes on the Red had to be redesigned, which caused some disruption at the time, but it was a small price to pay for the club’s ambitious expansion to a 54-hole golf complex.
The Blue is perhaps a more demanding test than its older Frilford siblings, featuring greens that are contoured and wetlands that are hard to ignore, placing a premium on accurate driving and approach play. Whilst it’s unashamedly a modern layout, there’s still a nod to old-fashioned golf design here and there with short par fours on the front nine at the 2nd and 5th holes.
It’s reckoned around 80,000 cubic metres of soil was moved when creating the Blue course though now, more than thirty years after it was built, the fairways look as natural as those on either the Red or the Green layouts.
Measuring 6,750 yards, the Blue course has been used as a venue for Europro Tour events and it also co-hosted the English Amateur Open, along with the Red course, in 2013.
Simon Gidman (formerly of Hawtree Design) is not a prolific architect, but his pièce de résistance at The Centurion Club in Hertfordshire (opened in 2013) has done his credentials no harm whatsoever.
Frilford in the heart of Oxfordshire is a ‘Mecca’ for golfers with 3 golf courses all within the one club. The Blue is the last of the courses to be created about 30 years ago, it also seems to be the least liked by course reviewers and members alike. The golf course although flat is a long walk and a stern test, even if only 6300 yards from the yellow tee boxes. On the day we played the course was very quiet, while the Red and Green was busy with Members.
The Blue is a ‘no frills’ parkland layout where the challenges are set out clearly. Built on former farmland, most of the holes are straight, uneventful and as a result uninspiring, although the fairways are good, the greens well grassed if a bit slow and the bunkers not too numerous and in good condition. The wide fairways include a number of areas where longer grass reduces their width, and this grass is really quite penal.
The four par3s are all good even if of similar length with the best being the 6th with a bunker to the front making for an interesting tee shot. The golf course comes to life with a short and strategic par4 at 12 with a fairway seemingly full of bunkers before a downhill dogleg to a welcoming green, a long slightly downhill par4 at 14 and then a par5 at 15 with a lot of protection in front of the green. But just as the golf course promises a strong finish, we are greeted by two long straight holes at 17 and 18 where imagination seems to have been left in the bag by the course architect.
I always judge a golf course by how many holes I remember afterwards, this one has precious few and as a result I would regard it as no more than average.
I played the Blue alongside Tim last month. I agree with David’s comments below (no relation by the way) – some of the better holes appear early on.
Unfortunately, the Blue is let down by dull, early 90s bunkering, relatively ordinary green sites and an uninspiring routing that has two returning nine hole circuits ending a very long walk away from the clubhouse. Back in the bad old days of the 1990s having two nine hole loops was mandatory. It was seemingly more important to get players back than it was to get them out.
Mowing lines could easily be improved, the square apron on #2 did not suit my eye at all and the ditches at #1 and #2 would benefit from being cleared.
The Blue is average at best and the weakest of the three courses at Frilford Heath. It could be better, but with two nice heathland courses that are connected physically closer to the clubhouse, I have to wonder why the club needs a mediocre third course. The Blue is hanging on to an Oxfordshire Best In County ranking by its fingernails.
My first time at Frilford Heath, which is a great setup with some fantastic facilities - played the blue which is the newest and allegedly the least impressive of their 3 championship courses.
That being said we found the course to be very enjoyable - played in fantastic condition with some perfect fairways and decent greens, and the back nine in particular has some classic heathland golf holes. Tee shots need to be thought about, and a creative short game is a must on some holes - all good stuff.
I would agree with other reviews that perhaps some of the course is a little samey and does not have the feel and interest to really put this course up the ranks, but definitely worth the trip. Can't wait to try the other two more mature courses, which I understand are a different level.
The Blue course is my least favourite of the 3 at Frilford. It's quite long and a bit of a slog, especially in winter when it gets wet as it's in the lowest section of the property.
There aren't too many boring or weak holes which is a big compliment. The strongest holes are 1, 2, 5, 7, 12, 13.
If I had 2 rounds at Frilford, personally I'd play the red and the green. However, if you like a challenge, make sure you play the blue.
Worth a visit if you're around, not the journey from London.
We started on the Red, only to find out it's a 2 ball only course so switched to the Blue after 1.5 holes, shame as our 4 bal was much quicker than the 2 balls around us.
The Blue is ok, not much special, favorite holes are the funky 2nd and the 6th which features nice curves. Overall the condition was good, but the course was very damp which reduced shot shaping reward. Greens looked good, but turned out to be pretty slow. I guess the course plays a lot better in summer as there are some nice contours. 6/10
My regular 4 ball booked into Frilford today for a round on the Blue course. We chose the winter warmer option £45 unlimited golf plus a great breakfast. Course was great, a fine mix of heathland, parkland holes, with great definition and a pleasing and engaging layout. Tees and fairways were in very good condition whilst the greens were top class. And a good challenge. Most impressive feature however was the welcome we received, all staff were friendly and certainly made us feel at home, which is sadly not always the case in all clubs. Highly recommended, will certainly be returning.