Timperley Golf Club, formed in 1893, ran into difficulties when the club owner died in the early 1930s. The club was bought by Altrincham Urban District Council and became Altrincham Municipal Golf Club, resulting in a number of the members moving to Whitecar Lane, Higher Baguley, where they opened a new 18-hole course.
The new arrangements didn’t last long though and the club was soon on the move again, joining forces with three directors from Marbury Hall Country Club to create the Mere Golf Club at Knutsford. James Braid and George Duncan, the club’s first professional, were called in and tasked with laying out the new course.
The book James Braid and his Four Hundred Golf Courses by John F. Moreton & Iain Cumming states: “In Braid’s opinion the course would stand the test of time because of the sandy soil and fine drainage. He took one day to complete his plan. Duncan supervised the construction and the first nine holes were ready for play by 1st January 1935.”
The authors continue: “The full eighteen were opened on 11th May 1935, by a match between Braid and Duncan against Cotton, then Open champion, and partner. Cotton played very well and his side won 3 and 1.”
The book indicates several holes have since been altered at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa. For instance, the 4th was changed on Braid’s advice in 1949 when an additional woodland area was acquired to fashion a new doglegged hole. The line of the par three 14th has also been changed slightly and a more recent modification was made by Nick Faldo, when he constructed a new green on the closing hole.
Harry Weetman won the 1952 British Masters here by four strokes from fellow Englishman Arthur Lees.
Yearly visit to the Braid layout to play in a charity day(20 years running), the infrastructure around the course has gone from strength to strength over recent years and the result is something quite opulent.
The course is a good layout, very long of the tips, but as with most championship courses there are numerous tee locations to ensure the round is enjoyable.
My favourite stretch of holes is the last 6, which are demanding and require a little local knowledge to prevail. Again the course was in tip top shape and a genuine test.
I’ve played Mere many times as I live not far away, and it is always presented in great condition. The back 9 is the stronger of the two with the last 4 being some of the best holes in the county, but the front 9 does present a nice gentle opening to the round with some good strong holes mixed in. Most of the holes are visually appealing and as with most James Braid courses the bunkering is well thought out and there are certainly plenty of those around Mere.
The course starts with a pleasant Par 5 that will invite the longer hitters to go for the green in two, shorter hitters will be left with a relatively short pitch onto a reasonably flat green. The 2nd is a sterner test of your golfing ability, a dogleg right with dense woodland to the right surrounding a pond will block any tee shot that is sliced, playing to a two-tiered green that is guarded by three bunkers and a hollow to the right-hand side. Two bunkers sit some 30 yards short of the green to swallow any mishit approach shots. Both the 4th and 5th are par 4s that go by without too much danger, but both are interesting holes and will present the longer golfer with possible birdie opportunities. The 6th is a long par 4 that as long as the 7 bunkers are navigated shouldn’t present too many issues. The 7th and 8th are both approached over water with the 7th having 8 fairway bunkers to contend with. An evil pin position can be used just a few paces onto the putting surface which means short approaches are water-bound or the approach which comes in with too much spin can also end up in the drink. The 8th is a longish par 3 again playing over water this time a much bigger pond, tee shots dragged left are in danger of going in the water as it snakes around the left-hand side of the green. The green slopes from back to front making stopping shots a little easier however it makes chips and pitches from over the back of the green that bit trickier especially playing back to the pond.
The back 9 starts with 2 solid par 4’s and the 13th continues this run being a long par 4 S.I 1, a bogey may feel like par for many a golfer here. The 15th starts a run of holes to the finish which some may feature in many golfers’ best in county. For me, the 15th is my favourite hole on the property a proper risk and reward hole. Playing into a valley do you take on the 220-yard carry over a stream setting up a nice up hill approach to a reasonably accessible green or do you lay up (missing the big tree in the middle of the fairway) and leave yourself a much longer uphill approach? The long hitter may even try to cut the corner slightly however left is dead and with OOB to the right the conservative strategy is the one many golfers will tend to prefer. The 16th is almost as good a hole as 15th, a tight dogleg left around trees with OOB right into the rather large palatial footballers’ homes. The difficult second shot is played downhill into a severely slopping but beautifully framed green. 17 is a blind uphill tee shot with everything feeding round towards the green, which again severely slopes to repel any loose approach shots. Onto 18 and what a cracking finishing hole, a long par 5 which doglegs to the right hugging the lake, reward comes in the form of a shorter approach for those braving cutting the corner but beware any shots lost out to the right when doing so will most certainly be lost balls. The second shot needs to be strategically placed to the left of the fairway as a rather large old tree blocks any shot that is lost to the right making what would be a relatively simple pitch shot that little bit harder, being too close to this could mean a chip shot underneath or out sideways is the only option. The green is situated right on the lake which makes for a great setting any balls long may spell a disastrous finish to the round.
Overall I really like the mere. Yes, it’s rather corporate and isn’t your traditional ‘golf club’ with the hotel and spa however that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a great James Braid designed golf course that plays well all year round even in the worst of the weather. The greens tend to be in great condition all year round and in summer can be a real treat. My one criticism is that three of the par 3’s feel a touch the same, a little bit more variety would elevate the layout that little higher and some of the bunkers could do with a bit more TLC however these do not detract from the great design of the majority of the par 4 and 5’s. The floating driving range is a nice novelty and in summer the outside area by the bar is a cracking area to enjoy that post-round pint! A solid 4 to 4.5 ball offering in my books and I will continue to go back regularly.
I first played The Mere as a 16 year old in the Daily Telegraph Tournament, I was fortunate enough to win which prompted a further trip, for the National finals in Gleneagles. So it’s no wonder I’ve always loved playing here. Now 30 years on and I still believe this is a fine golf course.
I’ve just played it, mid October and I found it in fabulous condition. The greens are possibly some of the finest I’ve putted on over the past couple of months.
I won’t bore you with all the hole by hole analysis but the likes of the 6th and especially the 7th are fine golf holes. Off the back tees the 6th is a 437 yard par 4 requiring a draw off the tee. The 7th is shorter with bunkers lining the fairway and a tricky second over water.
The back nine is just fabulous. I’ve always loved the 10th but equally the likes of the 11th and 13th are amazing golf holes. I guess if I’m being harsh it’s only the par 3 14th that doesn’t get one excited.
15 is a real choice of hitting the driver over the stream or laying up with a long iron which leads you to a long iron up the hill to a subtle two tier green.
The 16th is a personal favourite where I once tried to hit a big draw around the corner but instead blocked the tee shot into someone’s mansion. If you can hit a good tee shot, tho, the 2nd shot down the hill is stunning.
Today I finally birdied the par 518th hole. I’ll leave you to figure out how best to play it…?
All in all I love The Mere. Granted the car park is full of expensive cars of which I can’t pronounce the names of but I’ve never experienced anything but down to earth people here. Definitely worth a round.
Good course and great if you live in one of the mansions but not sure (apart from £) why it is used for Open Q so often ?? Some fairly average up and down holes with a great finishing stretch.
Although I live less than 30 minutes away I hadn't managed to play at The Mere for seven or eight years prior to last month's visit. I think most people would agree that the back nine is the more interesting half by far at this well maintained parkland layout, but the flatter front nine contains a handful of quality holes that are well bunkered and visually appealing.
Following a pleasant opener you encounter the strong 2nd, an attractively designed dogleg right with a testing two-tiered green. Others worthy of a mention would be the 4th and 5th, two very different but interesting par fours and the 7th and 8th which are both approached over water. Eight fairway bunkers must be avoided on the 7th to have a realistic chance of attacking the sloping green situated over a small pond. The demanding par three 8th keeps up the pressure with a shot over another much bigger pond. Don't be short.
The back nine begins with a couple of good solid par fours at 10 and 11 followed by the difficult and well bunkered par three 12th. At the 15th we begin a sequence of memorable finishing holes with considerably more undulation than we have seen previously. The par four 15th is a lovely valley hole where you are faced with a dilemma, can you clear the stream running across the fairway at 215 yards with the downhill drive or must you layup. The 16th is a wonderful hole, doglegging around trees on the left with houses and OOB awaiting anything blocked right. A good drive will still leave a difficult downhill second to a wickedly sloping but beautifully positioned green. The uphill 17th may play short but the challenge remains as your approach can easily run through another severely sloping green. Then we come to 18 and could we have possibly saved the best till last? The finale certainly provides a cracking finish and would, I imagine, be the favourite hole of many. A classy risk and reward par five which bends right around the mere before revealing a magnificently situated green in a lakeside setting.
The course is a solid four ball offering and I would give four and a half if I could. The resort as a whole is comfortably a five ball. Brian W