I liked Little Aston due to its tranquility and playability. It is set away from road noise and one does not see any housing due to the thick trees that line the border of the course. There were only two holes that I felt were tilted towards difficulty, yet I admired these holes and they were not unfair or contrived. These were simply well routed holes with thoughtful bunkering and more interesting green contouring.
The course is very natural with extensive use of trees to define the playing corridors as well as serve as additional defense to the course. I am typically not a fan of excessive trees on a golf course, but at Little Aston I found the trees to be just about right and did not unnecessarily slow play or impede ability to recover. A shot that was blocked by trees was due to it being a poor shot and not due to having a tree in the wrong spot. Certainly one could thin out many of the trees without compromising the integrity of the course which might increase air flow and enhance the beauty.
What I admired most about this parkland gem is the bunkering beginning with the fairway bunkering which is nearly always strategic. One can play away from the fairway bunkers, but this will result in a more difficult angle to the green or a longer shot. The holes with fewer bunkers are the lesser holes. It is rare that I thought a bunker to be placed in the wrong spot or unnecessary for any level of game, male or female.
Nearly all of the holes have very good green side bunkers. They are not particularly punitive as they are not often deep. There is a good chance of recovery from the green side bunkers to have a reasonable opportunity to save par.
There is good contouring in many of the green surrounds although several holes are a bit disappointing in being essentially flat if one misses the green or a green side bunker.
The majority of the green surfaces have adequate movement although not overly speedy. However, the slower speed of the greens was likely due to the course superintendent protecting them due to a recent shortage of rain and higher temperatures. I did not find them difficult to achieve a two putt or less. Several green surfaces are too flat such as the finishing hole.
The course measures 6822 yards, par 72 from the blue tees rated 72.9/235. The white tees are 6717 yards rated 72.4/134.
The course website provides both a description of the holes as well as a flyover of each hole.
1. Par 4 - 390. A generous fairway going downhill so one should be able to have a shorter iron to approach the green. There are four bunkers near the green which is an indication of the strong green side bunkering on the course. It is a gentle handshake.
2. Par 4 - 449. This hole reverses direction and is slightly uphill and again offers a wide fairway. Five bunkers comprise the green complex. For shorter hitters they will likely lay up short of the green.
3. Par 5 - 515/501. There are eight total bunkers on this hole with four bunkers placed inside the fairway as the hole rises. The tee shot is slightly down hill and this green can be easily reached in two by players who are average length hitters.
4. Par 4 - 317. This is rated the number one index hole and we could not figure out why even if playing a match against a better player. There is a snake like bunker cutting diagonally across the fairway from left to right but we thought it should have been 25 yards farther up to be strategic. While the green is a bit narrower and surrounded by three bunkers, it was not difficult to hit. We were disappointed in this hole given its rating and felt it should be rated index 15.
5. Par 3 - 161. A nicely contoured green with three bunkers including a deeper front bunker. This also has good contouring just off the green.
6. Par 4 - 422. We thought this to be the best hole on the front nine moving slightly right off the tee with three fairway bunkers to either carry or lay up short as they offer a narrow opening. Up ahead are two cross bunkers and four at the green. The green has good contouring. For those who say the course begins on the sixth hole, I would not disagree but that does not mean I did not like what came before.
7. Par 4 - 362. The fairway bunker on the right forces one left. This is stroke index four hole and one we under-estimated as both the false front and the carry over the left front green side bunker got both of us. I liked this hole and wished that a few more greens were like this one.
8. Par 4 - 410. A good use of a center-lime bunker just short of the green followed by four bunkers surrounding a green that runs away from you. We liked this hole.
9. Par 3 - 192. This is the first hole that does not run parallel to the others and serves as a connector hole for the next three holes that seem to be on a separate parcel of land. Two bunkers await on both sides of the green which is long. It is not a particularly attractive hole.
10. Par 4 - 444/432. I thought this to be the second best hole on the course, playing as a dogleg left having to avoid taller grass, heather and a tree down the left side of the fairway with a single bunker down the right making one ant to find the middle of the fairway. There is a wide cross bunker about 70 yards short of the fairway as well as a tree coming into he fairway from the right that one has to navigate. The green surface is a bit disappointing as it is somewhat easy to read despite the obvious slopes but maybe we had an easy pin location.
11. Par 4 - 397. The fairway cross bunker that comes in from the left preceded by two flanking bunkers make this a difficult tee shot as the fairway becomes narrower than on many other holes. Trees come into play down the right side. The green is slightly humped with fall offs on all sides. It is a good hole.
12. Par 5 - 485. Although this hole has both a pond on the left as you near the green and a bunker right, it is a relatively easy hole with a flat green.
13. Par 3 - 185/178. This hole connects you back to the land of most of the course and is perhaps the best bunkered hole on the course.
14. Par 4 - 342/323. A raised diagonal cross bunker serves more as a guide line on this dogleg right. If one finds the fairway, the hole is straightforward. Longer hitters trying to cut the dogleg could end up in the trees or run through the fairway.
15. Par 5 - 547. There are mounds and a central bunker to navigate on one’s second shot. These mounds likely stop the longer hitters from trying to hit full out. The green is angled left with a narrower opening and two tiers. We thought it to be the best par 5 on the course.
16. Par 4 - 422/399. This is a downhill tee shot with no fairway bunkers. Three cross bunkers with high fronts cross all of the fairway about 20 yards from the green. The green has subtle movement.
17. Par 4 - 381. Although the green has been moved so that it is surrounded by the pond on the left, most of the front, and all of the rear, I did not find this to be a challenging hole. The tee shot is downhill to a wide fairway so one should have a short iron in their hands for the approach. The green is raised to the back and left so well shaped. I did admire the mounding off the right of the green.
18. Par 4 - 402/389. It is a nice finishing hole playing to the right with a bunker fronting all of the green. The green surface is flattish and one would have hoped for most interesting green contouring and green surrounds.
Little Aston is a pleasure to play. The bunkering is both strategic and thoughtful. I would change the bunkering except on four where the bunker should be moved farther from the tee by 25 yards. It has fallen in the rankings of top 100 in Uk + Ireland both due to new courses being built as well as parkland courses have fallen from favor as links and heathland courses are receiving more affection. It could return to the rankings if some of the green surfaces were made more interesting as well as doing some better contouring on the green surrounds.
Date: July 22, 2022