Frilford Heath (Red) - Oxfordshire - England

Frilford Heath Golf Club,
Abingdon,
Oxon,
OX13 5NW,
England


  • +44 (0) 1865 390864

  • Russell Stebbings

  • J.H. Taylor

  • Daniel Blesovsky

“Frilford is only seven miles from Oxford,” said Bernard Darwin in his 1910 book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, “but it might be a hundred miles from anywhere. It lies on a little unfrequented by-road, and is utterly rural and peaceful a spot as could be found anywhere. Here is sand enough and to spare – a wonderful oasis in the desert of mud.”

There’s a bit more traffic on the roads these days, but Frilford Golf Club is still tranquil and the club now boasts three courses, the Red, Green and Blue, 54 holes in total. The original course, the Red, was designed by J.H. Taylor in 1908 and was modified in the early 1920s by the Frilford club professional, J.H. Turner. The Red is still the best of the trio, even though the original opening holes were altered in the early 1990s to cater for the development of the new Blue course.

The Red course is a demanding par 72 layout, measuring more than 6,900 yards from the back tees. The front nine is more challenging and balanced than the back nine, with two par threes and two par fives. But it’s the par fours, especially the 5th, 7th and 8th that stand out, all measuring well over 400 yards from the medal tees. The 9th hole is the signature hole, a pretty par three, measuring over 180 yards, where the tee shot must carry a pond and avoid the out-of-bounds behind the elevated green. The back nine opens up with the longest hole on the course and finishes with seven consecutive par fours.

Given the quality and quantity of courses at Frilford Heath, it is surprising that the club’s reputation is not more widely known and recognised. The land is delightfully undulating, perfect for golf, and the club is rightfully proud of the fact that the sandy soil allows all-year-round play. The greens at Frilford are amongst the very best in the land and they are also trying hard to encourage the regeneration of heathland indigenous flora. That has to be good news because Frilford Heath is a natural and traditional place.

“Taking it altogether the golf is both good and difficult,” wrote Darwin, “and besides that, Frilford is essentially one of those places where it is good to be alive with a golf club in one’s hand – even if one uses it indifferently – and whither one looks forward to returning with a very keen enjoyment.”

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Reviews for Frilford Heath (Red)

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Description: "Frilford Heath is essentially one of those places where it is good to be alive with a golf club in one’s hand," wrote Darwin. Rating: 4.2 out of 6 Reviews: 12

The Red course, generally regarded as the best of the trio, is of a similar mould to the Green, however, it’s a much sterner test.

The par for the course is 72 whilst SSS is 74 from the championship tees. Stretched to almost 7,000 yards you not only have to be straight off the tee to stay out of the many gorse-lined fairways but at times length is also essential. However, due to the fast running nature of the fairways, the course doesn’t play as long as other inland layouts of similar length and there are a handful of relatively short par fours thrown into the mix too.

Once again you have 18 solid and mostly very good holes but without any approaching the truly outstanding mark. After a slow start I particularly liked the stretch of holes from five to eight whilst the 10th and 15th are also superb holes. There is certainly more variety in the shots you will need to play on the Red course versus the Green.

Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.

4 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
April 12, 2017


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With the recent improvements to the course this is now definitely a top 100 course, it has the feel of a proper Championship layout. So much so that when I next visit here I fully intend to play this course twice, as good as the other two are, the Red is now way ahead in terms of enjoyment. We started on the 10th this time, and I must say the front nine make a great back nine with 7, 8 and 9 being an excellent finish to the round, we are going to do this every time now. Didn't like the new bunker on 18, the other one was perfect for maximum options. The condition was amazing for February. I'm giving it 6 balls for absolute fun and enjoyment, unlike some other top courses,where it can get brutal, the Red is perfect as you get a good challenge as well. I know this will be contentious, but the experience really was that good.
6 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
February 27, 2016


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Tony
February 27, 2016
If the new bunker on 18 was put I to protect the members car park I think it will have the opposite effect. You have now eliminated the 3 wood option. So it is now long iron/rescue or driver, I believe a higher percentage will use driver rather than long iron but maybe would've chosen 3 wood given the option. Only time will tell.
Recently rejoined Frilford after 20 years - I was a junior member. Whilst a previous reviewer is right that the new holes (2-4) as a result of the building of the Blue Course are not as good as the old holes, this was over 20 years ago so we need to move on!This is the longest and toughest of the 3 courses at Frilford and probably the best, although I have a soft spot for the Green. The setting is very tranquil and pleasant but there is no great elevation change so nothing to get really excited about. The club have added and moved several bunkers in the last year to make them more relevant to the modern game. On the whole, this has been very well done. The course is usually in great shape, very fast and firm fairways with top class greens.Not exceptional but very good and very pleasant. On the fringes of the top 100 in England, and with 2 other courses to choose from, well worth a visit.
4 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
August 18, 2015


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The Red used to be my favourite at Frilford, but I'm afraid the changes to the opening holes (especially 2 to 4) to accommodate the Blue seem just so out of character to the rest of the course that I now prefer the Green. Still worth playing but not as good as it was
3 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
August 17, 2015


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I have played some of the great links courses (Royal St George's, Royal Lytham....) and also inland courses like Woburn. The other reviews on Frilford surprise me as this a top golfing venue with the highlight being the immaculate condition of the greens. They are always, always in mint condition and a joy to putt on. The whole Frilford experience is to be enjoyed as the members are welcoming, the clubhouse is homely and the other two courses are a delight to encounter. Without a doubt, the best golfing venue anywhere near Oxfordshire
5 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
November 01, 2012


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Derrick Eckersley
November 02, 2012
Couldn't agree more my friend. Even after this terrible wet weather it is still in perfect condition, but stray from the fairway and you will be up Dawson's creek without a paddle.
The Red course is now challenging the top 100 courses with it's recently improved conditioning. It's only let down are the bad designing of the new holes. The 1st is ok, the 2nd bunkering out of character with the old holes, although it is a very good hole. The 3rd has an unsightly cross bunker which ruins the view of a beautiful raised green, they need to eliminate this and replace with an bunker in similar style to the older holes 300 yards on the right from the tee but give the fairway some shape and curve behind the trees on the left so a draw is required. The 4th is the worst hole out of the 54. Back to the drawing board on this one. (Call Martin Hawtree) Another terrible cross bunker on the 5th, after this the flow of holes from here in is worthy of a top 100 spot. The club does everything to perfection here, this is the only weakness. Please Frilford think about improving those holes, Blue and Green are perfect.
5 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
October 17, 2011


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Michael Tomlins
August 23, 2015
I agree with many of your points and luckily so did the club. New bunkering on the 3rd and 5th really improve these holes...
Tony
February 26, 2016
I wrote this review and I visited the course at the end of Feb, and I have to say what a pleasure the improvements are, a fantastic challenging design, all the bunkers are perfect, and the condition of the course was amazing, I seriously think this course merits a top 100 spot in its right now. Was a little disappointed to see the bunker on 18 has gone and a little one on the left put in. That bunker was perfect because it was right in range for the long iron/ rescue lay up, a good 3 wood cleared it but risked getting behind the car park or bush on the right, now the lay up with iron is too easy, it's taken 3 wood out of the equasion and the driver option hasn't changed. Where as before I used to deliberate all 3, now it's just a long iron with no danger.
This is super venue with 3 great courses to choose from. In my opinion this course is under rated and deserves a top100 in England ranking. A good mix of holes with long and short par 4's, doglegs left and right and lovely par 3's. The course is in good shape and it looks like they have been trying hard to make it even better. Some stand out holes around the turn 8, 9 and 10 my fav's. Definately worth a visit here.
5 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
May 25, 2010


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Played the Red & Green (Blue was Foursomes/2-Ball's Only, There was 3 of us!) Courses were in good condition, greens were smooth, the rough was very penial consisted of a 1st cut and U.S open style straw. Worth a visit but better courses out there.
4 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
July 10, 2009


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Played the Red and the Blue this week, and both were in good condition. Decent test of golf, but the Red shows its age with so many short par 4s. Blue has improved over the years. Both courses are let down however by the crazy grading of the rough. You have fairway, then the first cut, then jungle. Consistently 6-10 inches of thick grass barely 15 paces off the fairway. Absolutely crazy. If you're practising for the US Open its perfect; otherwise give it a miss.
3 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
May 16, 2009


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Ok, but in my view not a top 100 course - have played better courses not listed. Please though do not be put off as this course makes you hit the ball straight if you want to score well.
3 / 6
Frilford Heath (Red)
September 17, 2004


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