Oakmere Park is laid out across a great heathland property just North of Nottingham. The clubhouse is situated at the top of a hill and the admirals plays down into the valley below with both 9's starting and finishing from here.
The first tee box is one of the best I've experienced in England and worth a visit to Oakmere alone. The view into the valley below is fantastic and your first drive needs to be struck well, straight over the top of the heather and gorse bush to find the fairway several foot below. After a steady par 5 opener, the 2nd hole is a lovely short par three, flanked by a pond to the right and the pine forest framing the green to the left. 3, 4 and 5 are relatively straightforward par 4's with strategic bunkering requiring good shot selection off the tee.
The 6th hole is a great short par 4 with plenty of bunkers punishing the aggressive shot which is offline, the better play here it to lay up of the farthest bunker on the right, leaving you a short wedge into the relatively forgiving putting surface. The par 5 7th follows which was one of my favourite holes at Oakmere, a straight forward par 5 playing back up towards the pines with a raised and undulating putting surface and a very deep bunker short left which should be avoided at all costs. Another fantastic par 3 then follows on the 8th, a short pitch down the hill from inside the pines framing the course and with fantastic views up to the countryside horizon. The 9th is a very unique hole, straight up the hill to a green more at home on a crazy golf course with plenty of undulation.
Once you've reached the top of the hill where your round started, the back 9 begins with a short par 4, a sharp dogleg left and playing straight down the hill you just climbed on the previous hole. 11 is a straightforward par 5 and immediately following is the lengthy 12th par 3 playing over the gorse bush with plenty of bailout room to the left. 13 and 14 follow as straightforward par 4's, however the green on 14 is worthy of note, tucked up on the left side of the fairway and requires a pin point shot to find the putting surface.
The final par 3 comes on the 15th, another fantastic hole playing down the hill with a bunker short right catching any shots which get held up in the wind. The 16th is a solid par 5, tight to the road to the left and with a pond short catching any aggressive shot that doesn't have the legs. You then climb back up the hill to the 17th tee box, another short par 4 with great bunkering requiring a strategically placed tee shot. The closing 18th hole is relatively weak in comparison to the rest of the course, bordering the driving range and with little elevation changes, undulation and bunkering.
Oakmere is a great adventure with several standout holes and fantastic views across the heathland terrain. The bunkering gives the property an inland links feel and the greens were running true and at a solid pace. Holes 1,2,6 and 7 were our signature holes on the day and the front 9 is a particularly strong routing throughout the meandering streams and gorse bushes. If you are in the area, Oakmere is certainly one to check out and the free draining nature of the terrain makes it a fantastic all year round venue.
This year was going to be my best ever in terms of playing new courses and until lockdown I was on a mission. That then ground to a halt and initially post lockdown, my golf has been centred around my home course, Wortley.
But now visitors are allowed onto courses again, it's time to step back out there. Having seen the new Nottinghamshire rankings I immediately noted the new entry into the Top 10 of Oakmere. Having played most of the Top 10 I thought this was a worthy course to seek out, especially as being based near Mansfield, it should be on heathland type terrain.
Whilst today the weather wasn't great, we arrived at the course and followed the arrows to the pro shop where a very friendly and helpful pro, ran through the do's and don'ts and then we headed to the range which is adjacent to warm up.
Oakmere is a delightful course, heathland with the course laid out over a plateau, the valley sides and mainly in the valley bottom.
It has a lot going for it - the opening tee shot (a par 5) from the plateau down into the valley below, with tall pines to the left, very picturesque opener. The greens are delightful, not quick today despite the impression, but true. Plenty of undulations and multiple levels within the greens means your green reading needed to be of the highest order.
The course has some excellent holes - all the par 3's are standout, in particular the 2nd (played from a high tee to a green protected by water to the front) and the 15th (again played from a high tee, across the wispy heathland grass to a wide green with strategic bunkering to the front and right protecting it). But the short downhill 8th and also the 204 yard 12th were also a delight to play.
Having mentioned bunkers, the bunkers around the greens were large shapely, reminding me of US style bunkering, but the fairway bunkers were more in keeping with heathland courses in the area, although not to the quality of Sherwood, Notts.
There was only one weak part of the whole course and that is the 8th - 10th holes. The 8th and 9th have been re routed since my Garmin and Arccos Caddie courses were loaded. The 8th is fine, a short downhill par 3, but the 9th plays up the side of the hillside, a blind tee shot, back to the top of the plateau. Whilst the green is nice, the overall hole is substandard in design and conditioning. The 10th then plays along the top of the plateau and then sharply dog legs left back down the hillside. Not necessarily hard holes but not in keeping with the rest of the course which is of a very good quality. This despite there not being a single unused tee slot all day.
My favourite on the back 9 was the 14th, a 416 yard par 4, really heathland in character with a long carry to the fairway, fairway bunkers and a green complex surrounded by the trademark bunkers and a sloping back to front green. Follow this with the par 3 15th and you have a delightful 2 holes in succession.
The 17th is also a good, albeit straight hole. The only other downside being the 18th which dog legs left around the back of the range, so visually not the best.
But overall, I really liked the course, the facilities and friendliness of welcome, along with value for money.
In a county that has such class courses - Notts, Sherwood, Coxmoor, it is also worth noting that it has many quality 2nd tier courses and Oakmere is one of them. I would say similar to Rufford, which is not on the listings, but in my opinion and underrated and constantly improving course, but Oakmere edges with the heathland feel, despite those 3 weaker holes.