Many people go to Castle Combe for the motor sport. It’s one of the longest established circuits in the UK where, in 1950, a young Stirling Moss won the 2.5 litre race. But the 13th century village of Castle Combe is something entirely different and light years away in feel and pace to the race circuit. The village is simply gorgeous and undoubtedly one of the prettiest, most beautiful in England. In fact, it was recently voted the most picturesque village by English Heritage Magazine.
Situated on the southern edge of the Cotswolds, the Manor House Hotel and Golf Club is set magnificently in 365 acres of rolling countryside. The course is a relative youngster, opening for play in 1992 and Peter Alliss and Clive Clark designed it. The maturity of the setting makes the course seem much older, where stately oak and beech trees line the magnificent fairways. Alliss and Clark made the most of the undulating terrain and they’ve fitted the course into its surroundings like a silk glove. The River Bybrook punctuates the layout bringing its share of beauty and drama, especially at “Burton Brook” the 17th, one of the best and most exciting par threes you’ll find anywhere.
Today’s Manor House course stretches out to around 6,500 yards. It’s no championship layout but it will provide an enjoyable test for most golfers and real challenge from the tiger tees.
We’ve already mentioned one par three, but there are four other excellent one-shot holes on this unusual but dramatic par 72 layout. With five modest length par fives, birdie opportunities are there for the taking. The par five 3rd, called “Doolittle”, is perhaps the exception. This is the stoke index one and it’s a corker, where the land tumbles downhill and a valley requires negotiation before the sanctuary of the green is reached. The 7th, another par five, is a strategic test with its curving doglegged shape, which is further defined by an avenue of trees.
Just like the village of Castle Combe, the closing hole is one of the prettiest finishes in England. The green on this par four is guarded jealousy by numerous bunkers and a series of interconnecting ponds. A par here will be a fitting end to one of the most enjoyable and exciting rounds of golf you’re likely to experience in the whole of the British Isles.
A couple of great holes over the river valley, the 2nd in particular is a spectacular par 3. Then there are some average holes, and some really weak holes e.g. uphill 13th. I understand the desire to build the course around the signature holes which cross the river, but this leads to a poor routing with some ridiculously long walks.
The recent reviews remind me that since 2012 I have played Manor House (Castle Coombe) a couple of times, in August 2018 and November 2019, and so experienced the course in two differing times of year. On both occasions I have to say I found course condition to be good and the greens excellent, both in terms of quality and interest. Also worth mentioning (not that I normally consider this of overriding importance in rating a golf course) the clubhouse and food is very good with the staff extremely helpful.
Undoubtedly there are some excellent good looking downhill tee shots, including those at 8 and 12 and the par 3's at 2 and 17; these are two excellent par 3's, both with greens surrounded by a stream and the 17th being very much downhill is a feature hole. There are also a few other good driving holes but generally second shots do not seem to hold the same level of interest. Also some average holes and some poor holes (in my opinion); I find the 9th a particularly poor par 3 with a fiendishly difficult putting surface (was it originally a par 4?) which follows a long uphill treck from the 8th green. Also I dislike the 13th, a short par 4 for which the second shot is ridiculously uphill; infact noticeably a group behind us totally bypassed this hole and went up the buggy path to the next tee. Like some previous comments there is the mechanised 1990's feel to some of the holes and this includes the large bunkers (with dubious sand quality) which I am not a fan of. Some of the natural countryside gave the designers much to tap into but I can't help feeling it could have been much better.
For me the biggest downside is the distance between some of the greens and tees, meaning that in reality it is a course designed for buggy use and for me this is not what golf is about. I used a trolley in August and the walks between most of the greens and tees are so long there is no flow and maintaining interest was difficult. Using a buggy in November was even worse as sticking to the buggy paths you had to disembark and walk over to your ball on the fairway and then back again; for me I want to walk the golf course and enjoy the scenery (which at Manor House is pretty damned good).
Based on latest ranking definitions I reckon 3.5 balls is about right as it is certainly worth playing if in the area.
After playing The Manor House nearly as much as my home course 15 minutes away, I have thought long and hard on how to word the feelings you get when playing this course and how to describe the place, but I’ll give it a shot.
Firstly, I strongly believe the experience is the most important part of a golf club, and The Manor House has nailed this. You either start your experience here two ways; either from the luxury Manor House hotel located in the ‘most beautiful village in Europe’, or by driving through one of the most beautiful areas in England, searching for the special place. Once you arrive, large gates and gold lettering start your journey down a long, winding drive. The trees flicker shadows around you as you drive into the car park next to the classic but classy clubhouse. As you park next to the odd Ferrari or Range Rover, looking out onto the most Presteigne putting green anywhere in the southwest, you know you are in for a treat.
Once you have visited the luxurious changing rooms and purchased a much needed buggy, you are on your way and the journey starts.
I won’t ramble on about every hole on the course however I’ll give it a brief overview. The course is situated in the bybrook valley and teases with the small river on many occasions. The track is modern, long, teeter outs and utterly breathtakingly beautiful. Every hole proves why you are in one of the most beautiful areas of the UK as it continues to play with the landscape. The second, for example, is a short par 3 in the bottom of the valley beneath the canopies. The stream, with two waterfalls, flows straight past the green and elevated tee and will catch any under-hit shot onto the large, undulating green.
Every hole is different and Intimate, testing every part of your game to the greatest standard.
There is water, large bunkers, rolling fairways and lots of trees. I have never played a more beautiful course.
The finish is perfection. A dog leg par 4 16th teases the played to take on the trees however, only the best stuck drive will make it. Otherwise, you will be in one of many large, beautifully cut bunkers on the course. The 17th, often regarded as one of the best par 3’s in the UK, perfectly sums up the whole course in one ‘simple’ shot. Elevated tee, 100yd drop, two greens, snaking stream and birds chirping from every tree. Perfection. The 18th is also know as one of the best in the UK and is my favourite hole on the course. Par 4, tight drive and green that’s tucked next to a lake and waterfall.
The Manor House is the best golfing experience in Wiltshire and possibly the best course as well. Everything about the place screams class and beauty. Parkland golf doesn’t get much better than this. This is a must play if you visit the area.
What a course... Let me start by saying this is a hidden gem that i dont beleive gets the credit it deserves. Because its a little out of the way people rarely give this course the time of day and these people are missing out.
Firstly let me start with the facilities, the driving range is an outdoor range thats played off grass not matts. The putting green is excellent with a variety of slopes and shapes it gets you in the right state of mind for the gruelling golf ahead. The short game are is great too, with a selection of bunkers and rough to really test all varieties of play.
Next the facilities themselves, nice changing facilities and pro shop get you in the mood and the staff are very friendly and helpful. The food is delicious and the bar etc is lovely.
Now on to the main event... the colour tees that you play off play a huge part in how likely you are to score well as they can vary on some holes quite massively. the first hole gives you a false sense of security as a short par 4 with a wide fairway but dont let that fool you. from there the course only gets tighter and course management is absolutely key to going round here. They shape the holes in a way that accuracy off the tee is a must, normally the further you hit the ball the smaller your landing area. The course is cleverly designed to test all aspects of your game, from a long thin 600 yard par 5 to a 120 yard par three played from such height that you could genuinely reach with the highest wedge in the bag. The scenery around here is beautiful and as your away from any major roads and towns its also very quiet.
One Warning - GET A BUGGY!
The reason I say this is because of the elevation between holes, for example between the 2nd and the 3rd you probably go 100ft uphill and thats not an isolated hole. The other reason I would recommend a buggy is the shear distance between holes... you will feel like youve run a marathon if you walk this course, and in fairness ive seen people do it so if you want to burn a few addition calories be prepared.
Ive not played the most courses in the world, but i have played some of the more well known and respected courses in England, (Celtic Manor, Belfry Brabizon etc) and in my opinion as courses go this is the best one i've played so far. Im sure when I manage to play wentworth, st andrews and sawgrass this will move down the list but until then its a delightful test of golf
I have given the course a "good" review as I feel its a good course.... but no better than that. The price of playing here is very expensive and although the facilities are good, it is not worth spending the amount of money on generally charged £80 - £120. I also note a lot of other reviews on top 100 that have me feeling they are either members, staff or people who haven't played good courses. Please dont get me wrong, it is a "good" course, it just isn't worthy of the praise it seems to get in my eyes.
The course itself has some good holes , some ordinary holes and some very quirky holes. My biggest tip is to definitely use a buggy if you can, from memory there are some real lung busting walks on 9 and 18 that surely has claimed a few coronaries ! worth a visit if you get an offer and in a county that lacks top golf , it probably deserves it place in the wiltshire rankings but that doesnt take much really.
Obviously a quality place. The layout of the course is wonderful with a great variety of holes, some super par threes and challenging par 4's.
Before going to play EVERYONE I spoke to said "get a buggie" and for once we took advice and for once we were glad we did. Although much of the course is normal layout the walk (drive) to 2nd and 3rd tee although long is downhill BUT there are uphill ones to come, especially to the 9th which was a brute even in the buggie. The walk up the 13th hole and one of the other uphill green to tee paths on the back nine are also steep. However we had a buggie and we are glad we did.
Fabulous countryside and peace and wildlife and views.
Negatives comments are the sand in many of the bunkers is poor - only decent one I went near were greenside at 18th.
Also most coloured tee markers seemed to be facing the wrong way so you had to cross the tee to see where to tee off from ?
Finally a couple of the raised tees had very steep sides with no steps ?
Apart from those small issues, it is a quality course at a quality venue and we look forward to playing again when we get the chance.
Course played for me number two hundred and sixty one in England and three hundred and ninety three worldwide.
This was the last leg of our tour to the area – crossing the border from Somerset to Wiltshire. Manor House is rated 2 in the county and we could definitely see why. From the point of arrival, to the courteous staff and unbelievably helpful team in the pro shop, this was a memorable day played on a superb course.
The course is relatively new and the design is fantastic, if you like picturesque holes that is. Two magnificent par 3’s (2nd and 17th) some breathtaking views from raised tees (8th and 12th) and a delightful finishing hole. Some of the early holes have an inland links feel about them with the raised contouring between adjacent fairways and although one or two of these holes felt a little similar in style, it didn’t detract from the overall quality of the course.
The course is manicured to high standards and for sure is a pleasure to play. The greens ran true and fairly quick and were typically large with an american feel to them.
One note of caution, the course is designed with buggies in mind. The course itself does have one or two climbs to negotiate, but the bigger issue is with a few of the walks from green to next tee and in all honesty without a buggy for those walks it would have been very demanding and tiring.
If you feel up to the challenge then Manor house is a course worth a visit. We can’t speak highly enough of the service we received from everyone at the club. We couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome.
I recently played this course with a group of ladies; it was a day to remember! The course was stunning with every hole being unique, from the 12th through the valley; to the breathtaking drop on the 17th and the challenging final hole, with a waterfall between the green and the club house. We received a friendly and warm welcome before our round and enjoyed our lunch outside on the terrace. The service was faultless from start to finish. We were also lucky enough to play whilst the club were trialling buggies on the fairways. This helped us enormously and will definitely be returning if they continue with this. A fantastic course which I would highly recommend.