Newbury & Crookham Golf Club is one of the oldest in England and J.H.Turner, the professional at Frilford Heath between 1914 and 1952, laid out their present course at Greenham, fifty years after the club’s 1873 formation.
During World War II, only seven holes were left open for play as sheep were allowed to graze on part of the course and aircraft taxiways were constructed on today's 1st, 14th and 15th fairways. After the war, the suggestions book in the clubhouse included an entry from someone asking for the broken concrete runway on the first hole to be painted green to help members find their golf balls.
Measuring a shade under 6,000 yards from the medal tees, the course is by no means overly long – there are only two par fives, at holes 13 and 18 – but it’s tight in many places, with towering trees bounding many of the narrow fairways.
Three of the five par threes on the card are played on the front nine though the best of the short holes is probably the last one played at the 170-yard 17th, where the beautifully bunkered elevated green slopes gently from right to left.
Aficionados of old-fashioned golf will appreciate the pair of short par fours here. The first of these is a left dogleg across a small valley at the 2nd and the other is the 292-yard 12th, played to a heavily bunkered green.
The Howard Swan design company has been credited with course modifications in recent times.
I enjoyed Newbury & Crookham when I visited for the first time last week. The course is unlikely to challenge some of the bigger names in Berkshire for a place in the English Top 100, however it does have a handful of holes that are nothing short of excellent. Routed over undulating and tree lined parkland, the course has plenty of variety with a few strategic short par 4's mixed in amongst a number of long and difficult two shotters. There are only two par 5's which are both encountered on the back nine, but of the five par 3's, four are very good indeed. The 3rd and the 9th both offer a bit of hang time playing downhill to large greens, the 3rd a real beauty set well below the tee. The 6th and tough 17th offer a different challenge, both being well defended by attractive bunkering. Whereas a mere flick will suffice on 6, nothing but a well struck and accurate 170 yard shot will do on 17. Not one to get too excited about but well worth a look if you are in the area. Brian W