One of only a few English clubs to boast three full length 18-hole courses, the Old course occupies a separate site on Minchinhampton Common to the west of the town, while the other two layouts are located between the villages of Avening and Cherington to southeast of Minchinhampton town.
Both the Avening and Cherington courses are an amalgam of a mid-1970s 18-hole F.W. Hawtree layout to which Martin Hawtree (F.W’s son), added a further 18 holes in 1995. Each course utilises a combination of holes fashioned by father and son.
The joins are not seamless, especially if you study the green complexes. The older Fred W greens are smaller with less movement, whereas Martin’s larger greens offer more pin positions and have greater undulations.
There’s genuinely very little difference in quality between Minchinhampton’s two “new” courses. When Open Regional Qualifying was held here between 2002 and 2007, the R&A deployed a composite course because the Cherington – which is the longer of the two – only measures 6,459 yards from the tips.
Open Regional Qualifying returned to Minchinhampton in 2018 when The Open was held at Carnoustie, and a composite course was again utilised, consisting of holes 1, 2 and 18 of the Cherington and 1-3 and 7-18 of the Avening layout. According to the R&A: “This composite layout reforms the original layout, which is referred to as The Avening Championship Course.”
There is very little to choose between the two courses at Minchinhampton 'New', and the Avening has the same advantages as the Cherington course, including two 18 hole courses, nice clubhouse, good general condition, good winter course etc. Very much flat parkland with limited hazards and little rough making it quite a good course for higher handicappers.
I think the original layout of The Avening course was better than the current layout with holes 4-6 fairly bland and not as interesting as those they replaced; significantly the R&A reverted to the original layout for Open Pre-qualifying last year. The front nine is less interesting than the back although the 7th is one of the trickier holes on the course as the trees have now grown up making placement of the drive vital to allow a shot through the trees to the green. Holes 10-15 are over a country lane and are arguably the prettiest holes on the 36 hole complex; a couple of lakes, conifer trees and several dog-leg holes are quite a feature of this stretch which is very pleasant on a summer evening. Hole 16 is then one of the toughest on the course, a long par par 4 with tall trees protecting the front right of the green. Five par 3's on the Avening and these are the crux of making a decent score.
It is good to see Minchinhampton in the Gloucestershire rankings and although I would give the Avening course a 3 ball, combine it with a game on the Cherington and it is worthy of a day out; another case where having two courses is a great advantage which means the 'whole is greater than the sum of it's individual parts'.