Located on the edge of Willingham Woods, next to Market Rasen racecourse, the course at Market Rasen Golf Club has been in operation since 1922, ten years after the club moved from its original location on the western side of the town.
Over the years the course has progressed to its current 18-hole configuration, with three new holes replacing the old 15th, 16th and 17th at the start of the new millennium. It’s not the longest of layouts but its narrow tree-lined fairways offer a stern test.
Measuring 6,249 yards in length from the back tees, and playing to a par of 71 (36 out and 35 in), the course features only one par five on the outward half at the 501-yard 9th. Unusually, the round here ends with a par three as the 18th hole.
Highlight holes include right doglegging short par fours at the 4th and 7th, the tough par four 10th (with the River Rase cutting across the fairway in front of the green), and the par four 17th, where the green lies less than 50 yards from the outside rail of the horse racing track.
The cars piled into Market Rasen Racecourse, but sometimes the road less travelled is the best option, so swinging by the cars queuing for the racecourse carpark, travel 200 yards further down the road and step into an idyllic heathland landscape of beautifully crafted holes - this what awaits you at MRGC.
Laid out over primarily flat land - well we are in Lincolnshire - there are enough gentle rises and falls in the layout to make the layout of each hole interesting. Add the beautiful framing of the holes with oak, silver birch and pine, alongside heather, bracken and gorse and you have the ingredients for an excellent heathland course.
Playing on County Cards, the afternoons golf represented a real bargain.
The course plays alongside Woods with the River Rase also coming into play. The course has played host to the English Senior Womens Amateur Championship so has serious credentials.
The 1st hole sets the standard, a 452 yard par 4, played across a valley, with a large tree ready to pick off an errant shot only 100 yards from the tee box. The hole then sweeps down a gentle slope before climbing again to a raised green. It's an excellent starting hole, long, and is a template for how the greens are framed on so many holes - large stands of pine trees surrounding them.
Whilst holes 2 and 3 are relatively flat and short par 4's, the 4th is another crowd pleaser, only short at 325 yards but a dog leg right so position off the tee is crucial. Hole 7 is similar to hole 4 with another dog leg right, but both holes whilst not long require strategy and straight driving!
The 1st and only par 3 of the front 9 is found on the 5th - played across a flat open space, the bunkers are the only protection to what is SI 18. On the bunkers, they were consistent - not alot of sand but I find as lomng as you have a consistent approach you cab at least take your bunker shots on with confidence.
Hole 6 shares a green with Hole 3, the only double green on the course and a quirky but nice touch.
The front 9 finishes with 2 good holes, the 8th a sweeping, downhill par 4, with water down the right and beautifully framed by the dense oak and pine. The 9th, the 1st of the par 5's is a blind tee shot, and played to a green banked on either side. The greens throughout offer undulations, ridges and hollows, they ran true. The green complex designs and bunkers - all visually looked good and gave each hole an excellent finish.
The back 9 starts with the excellent par 4 10th, a sweeping right to left hole, with the River Rase playing down the left hand side and in the approach to the raised green.
Holes 11 - 13 play out from the woods into a more open part of the course, a par 5, par 3 (which reminder me of Lindrick) and then the par 4 13th, a spectacular green setting, with a brook in front, banking with trees behind.
Back into the wooded area and a long par 3, but with wide open land in front of it and only a bunker to the left, if anything this was the least interesting visually.
The par 5 15th at 553 yards reminded me of Forest Pines, flanked by Pines.
The round finishes with 2 par 4's and then a finishing par 3. The tee is tight to the oob on the right, there is a tree protecting the green 187 yards away, bunkers protect the front left to catch any fades that dont quite reach the green. Never a big fan of par 3 finishes this is a good finishing hole - the members feel its the hardest par 3 in the County. The clubhouse and outdoor seating flank the green, so hit a good shot, make your birdie/par and then bask in the knowledge that in Comps only 1 in 10 members hot the green!
The back 9 offered more variety with 2 par 5's and 3 par 3's compared with the front 9, but each half offered visually attractive and different challenges, all played on immaculate greens and fairways.
Played this en route to Woodhall Spa and the Norfolk as the start to our Summer holiday. Would recommend considering MRGC as one to add to your itinery if you are in the area. Having played 8 of Lincolnshires Top 10 I would agree that it's ranking is right - more interesting than Elsham and close to Lincoln's overall design and conditioning.