You’ll find Heythrop Park in the charming Cotswolds, close to the market town of Chipping Norton and a mere fifteen miles to the north of bustling Oxford. At the centre of the 440-acre Heythrop Park Estate stands a grand Baroque-styled country house that was restored and converted into a luxury hotel and country club by businessman and former owner of Oxford United Football Club, Firoz Kassam.
Tom Mackenzie, of Mackenzie & Ebert Ltd, designed Heythrop Park, which opened for play in October 2009 and it’s routed through the leafy grounds of the stately Heythrop Estate.
With five sets of tees which stretch out to an impressive 7,156 yards from the tips, Heythrop Park is a course that will challenge the best while remaining enjoyably playable for the higher handicapper. USGA standard greens provide all-year-round consistency, and, with water coming into play on no fewer than eight holes, Heythrop Park will provide for an exciting and at times rather exacting day’s golf.
Heythrop Park Golf Club membership will be limited to 400 and the club are currently offering exclusive VIP tours of the golf course and the Health Club. If any one of the Top 100 team lived close by, we’d love to be part of one of the century’s most exciting English golf developments.
Finally, we’d like to mention “The Heythrop Challenge”. Archer Bridge is the name of Heythrop’s risk and reward 6th hole. Naturally, with “Bridge” in the name, water is the predominant feature. The Heythrop Challenge is to drive the green, 277 yards from the tee. You’ll have to carry the lake and stop the ball on the green. If you are successful, they will waive your joining fee for membership. Will you take it on?
Heythrop Park is spread over a huge area with its own Country House and Estate. The holes are laid out in an imaginative and fascinating way so as to create a golf course that blends in well with the surrounding Cotswolds countryside and trademark stone cottages.
The fairways are generous and of top quality, the bunkers strategic and reassuringly minimalistic in number and the greens are large, well-maintained and of a good pace. These three key components for a golf course ensure that good shots get fair reward.
You play yourself in over the first three holes and then encounter a classic simplistic par 5 with a stone wall running all along the right, strongly penalising a sliced shot. In my view, holes 5 and 6 are the best holes on the front nine, both requiring a well struck drive over water to reach the safety of green grass, and further challenges beyond before a good score on the hole is achieved.
Steady progress is then maintained until the high-calibre 11th. This is a lovely downhill par 5 with a wide straight fairway before the approach shot to a well-protected green over water and jealously guarded by a large tree to the left. A suitable stroke index one indeed! Holes from 13 to 16 are of high quality with 13 being a daunting long par 3, followed at 14 by a sharp dog-legging par 5 that requires a drive from low down, to cross a wall and then hit a sloping fairway. The final two holes and just straight and long, although the views of the Hall are quite majestic as you stroll up the 18th.
The undulating nature of the Estate and often long distances between holes, sometimes poorly sign-posted, makes Heythrop Park an arduous walk, we would probably buggy next time. Fortunately we played on a dry windless April day, with the many trees beginning to grow their leaves ready for the summer ahead. Only small moans but the teeing areas were decidedly average and some course paths were in desperate need of an upgrade.
My conclusion is of an unloved sleeping giant of a golf course, a lot of money has clearly been spent in the early days and massive potential still exists. I can’t help feeling that over it’s 11 year history to date this stylish facility has been under-utilised and only fully appreciated by those who have ventured here to play, and they have kept the secret to themselves.
made an effort to seek this out while spending sometime locally, the weather was so poor we couldn't play but having tried two holes without success I was happy to make the trip to go back and play a full 18. really accommodating and friendly pro shop/ reception. lovely course, go play it
It's 6 years since I last played here so I recalled bits and pieces but forgot lots too. Really glad I came back as there are quite a few really good holes on this course. Fairways were in excellent condition and firm. Greens superb and smooth, whilst not being the fastest they could be with the slopes on the greens they were sensibly paced for a society outing. The course is fair with plenty of room before getting into big trouble and tests your placement on a few holes. Honestly there are the odd one or two holes that feel like they had to be fitted into a specific area rather than were properly planned out. 11 for example whilst being a nice hole is a little odd and the green placement is a bit extreme giving you not much room for a lay-up. The only real downside was that the bunkers were a bit patchy and indifferent - some had sand, some bare, some full of stones. If they sorted the bunkers (and surfaced some of the pathways) it would be perfect. Those who have been here will know there are a few long walks from green to tee, especially on the back 9 but often they are worth it for the stunning hole that greets you.