Marlborough Golf Club was founded in 1888. Nine holes of the 6,469-yard course in play today were laid out across free-draining downland by Tom Simpson and Herbert Fowler in 1920, J Hamilton Stutt added a second nine in 1974.
The two nines at Marlborough are very different. The first nine is characterised by tight doglegs, undulating fairways and elevation changes. It starts with a par 5 which dog legs first to the left and then back to the right to a raised green guarded by a bunker on the right. It is followed by a picturesque short downhill par 3 and a 'risk reward' par 4 where you can cut the corner from the back tees to leave simple pitch to the green. Hole 5 is another attractive downhill par 3 and the next hole continues down to the lowest part of the course near the River Og and the village of Ogbourne Maizey. Holes, 7, 8 and 9 return in the opposite direction ascending to the Club House. The back nine is on common land, a heathland plateau, which is more exposed to the wind. Hole 12 is a tricky short par 4. The 15th is a great par 4, running back towards the Club House, with road and out of bounds on the right, and the rugby pitches beyond the green. The next is a short dog leg par 4 with two bunkers guarding the right side of the green which can be reached in one with a good tee shot. The final par 3 is probably the most challenging one of the course with a bunker on the left and a run off area to the right of the green. It is always very satisfying to make a par 5 or birdie on the last hole. Long hitters can reach in two, but beware the deep bunkers on either side of the green. Despite no water hazards and its relatively short length, this course has plenty of subtleties. It is harder than it looks; all about good course management and putting the ball in right position to attack pin positions that are often tucked away behind deep bunkers. The new regime at the Club is putting much more effort in improving standards and the overall condition of the course to get it back to the position where it was two decades ago. It's definitely worth trying to play this little gem!
Definitely a Gem. Thoroughly entertains for all standards of players. Positioning off the tee is useful for many holes. Add in some fantastic par 3s and you have a playable fun test with stunning views.
What’s not to like, good golf, good clubhouse and fantastic coffee and cake.
Wiltshire has two golf courses rated as ‘Gems’ by ‘top100golfcourses’. We played the first at Ogbourne Downs on the last day before the third and longest Covid lockdown back in January 2021, and vowed to return to play the other at nearby Marlborough, just five miles down the A346, as soon as possible after golf returned. So Thursday this week was the day.
The terrain and general landscape of the Marlborough Hills is similar as is the maintenance standards at the two courses, although Marlborough has many more trees, but there the comparison ends.
Whereas Ogbourne Downs has a variety of memorable holes, Marlborough plods along with an unexciting offering. Unusually for me just hours after the round, I am struggling to recall many of the holes. I like the downhills par 3s at 2 5 and 14, and the long dogleg 7th at the bottom of the property is probably the stand-out hole, the rest are mundane.
I prefer golf courses that start and finish with par 5s, to start as it gets the play moving and to finish as it often gives up a chance of birdie to send the golfer home happy. Marlborough unusually starts and finishes both nines in this manner, and also offers hot snacks at half-way, a welcome initiative not seen enough, in my view, on British golf courses.
But other than a decent welcome, my praise ends there. Noisy country roads encircle the golf course and adjoining Common, and the slopes, particularly on the front nine rather than being a feature simply fail to inspire.
A pleasant walk and round of golf in agreeable surroundings is provided for the enthusiast, but sadly little more.
Marlborough is a tale of two nines, the flatter and older common land forming the back nine, and the newer front nine which opened in the 1970's and is built on sloping fields down towards the main Swindon to Marlborough A road. Both nines start and finish with par 5's by the clubhouse; incidently a very unusual design of clubhouse, an A frame style built in the 1980's which offers excellent views over the course. A couple of decent par 3's on the front nine but I think hole 8 is a truly awful design of a par 3 uphill to a blind flag and the uphill par 5 at 9 is not much better. Best hole on the front nine is possibly the 6th where you need to get the drive in the right spot to play around the dog-leg. Front nine can feel like a bit of a slog (especially when wet) but back nine is more pleasant but without any stand-out holes. Just down the road from Ogbourne Downs it is of similar standard, probably tougher to score on but I would say not quite as appealing to play because of the newer holes