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.