The country estate of Orchardleigh – which includes a large Victorian mansion, an island church, boathouse and a number of other listed outbuildings – is the setting for an 18-hole golf course that was designed in the mid 1990s by Brian Huggett in conjunction with Peter McEvoy.
It’s an idyllic setting for weddings with the little Church of St. Mary accessed by a small bridge over a lake but for those more interested in playing golf, the parkland layout here offers a really decent test on a site where other water hazards come into play at half a dozen of the holes.
The front nine are laid out on flatter land to the west of the clubhouse and the 414-yard 6th is the hardest hole on this circuit, with out of bounds to the left of a fairway that leads to a two-tiered green. The back nine occupies more undulating terrain and the uphill, right doglegged 14th is a tough nut to crack on the inward half.The course was constructed within an established estate and the maturity of the setting contrasts well against the modern, target golf design of the holes where greens have been built to USGA standard. Originally called The Park, that name was dropped when proposals for a second 18-hole course fell through.
The settings of Orchardleigh are certainly grand, the sat nav takes you to the old entrance which is no longer in use but a very impressive castle like gate accessing the old road up to the manor house which looks amazing. You can tell straight away that its a fairly young course, the front 9 is a fairly uninspiring up and down of fairly short holes with some water in play but the back 9 is much more tricky and interesting with a bit more elevation. Greens were in average condition but certainly very payable. I had the place pretty much to myself and really enjoyed the peaceful setting and sun going down as I walked up the 18th. It seems like the course is more of a bolt on to the Manor House rather than a real feature of the estate but still worthy of a journey out to try it for yourself.
For value for money, you can't get much better value than playing Orchardleigh. There are some lovely, challenging holes. The par 5 12th is a real highlight, as is the finishing 17th and 18th; a tricky par 3 green followed by a long, straight par 4 with danger for errant shots.
Only ever played this place in the summer months, but can't speak highly enough of it.
We played Orchardleigh on a pleasant summer afternoon. The course is well worth playing and offers good value at £20 each.
I would say that the course is a tale of two halves; the back nine makes the course and is a more interesting (and tougher) test of golf.
The course begins with a relatively straightforward par four with some well-placed fairway bunkers; this is a recurring feature of the course, with some good bunkering on the second, fourth, sixth and eighth holes. Unfortunately the front nine is let down by a lack of memorable holes; the only one which really got my attention was the par five ninth. Driving between two water hazards on either side of the fairway, one is left with an uphill approach to a sloping green; a well placed fairway bunker complicates the lay up after a mishit or wayward drive.
The back nine is played over much more undulating terrain and contains some great holes. The dogleg eleventh is intimidating from the tee and demands two accurate shots, while the twelfth offers great views and is an interesting downhill par five. More doglegs follow; the three-shot fourteenth in particular requires two accurate blows to set up an eagle chance. Seventeen has an interesting green and some of the positions could certainly make the hole tougher than its stroke index might suggest, while eighteen is a decent finisher, with a couple of solid hits required to find the dance floor.
The back nine is indeed a very nice set of holes; in fact the only hole I didn't care for was the thirteenth, a short two-shotter without sufficient penalty for a wayward drive.
Overall, the back nine makes the course worth visiting, but unfortunately the course misses out on a higher rating due to too many average holes. Condition was good with the greens running true and at a pleasant pace. One would probably struggle to do better for this price in the area.
Visited this afternoon for £20 online green fee as 281st course played in England and 414th worldwide. It was WELL worth £20 and a fair bit more.
Very impressive piece of land with a very luxurious looking hotel bit and a separate clubhouse. Ourvstanav took us down a few miles of farm track in the way there but we went home on proper roads!?
Anyway, the course review. Nothing to not like about the course, good layout with mature trees. Front nine is flatter than back nine and I would say probably the easier of the two.
3rd is a nice par 3 but how it is rated as SI 4 is a mystery .....although SI ratings are a constant source of surprise to me!!
The 12th is real fun to play downhill par five and the par 3 17th has a fabulous green with some much tougher pin positions than the front left that I birdied today.
Two stonkingly hard holes on the back nine, the SI 1 14th is a tricky dogleg par five and the 18th is a par 4 (which again I would suggest should be SI 2 in non-match play) which at SI 7 further highlights the anomaly of the 3rd.
Anyway it feels like I am moaning and I am NOT.
A very nice layout which would probably be a lot more well known and popular were it a bit less out in the middle of nowhere.
Well worth seeking out for a knock ....and set your satnav to "main roads only".
Playing parkland courses in the depths of winter is never ideal but we decided to take a look at the leafless skeleton of Orchardleigh last month after a spell of dry winter weather.
The setting in the heart of the 500-acre gated Orchardleigh Estate is gorgeous, but you wouldn’t want to be dropped off at the gates, as you’d be faced with a two-mile walk from the public road to the clubhouse. I can’t think of any entrance drive in the UK that’s longer than Orchardleigh.
Unfortunately the course left me more than a tad uninspired. The fairways looked lovely, but the ground was incredibly sticky considering the preceding weeks of dry weather. The fact that the tees on every hole were playing off mats, which were at least 20 yards in front of the ladies tees, did not help one eyeota.
The bunkering is pretty decent and some of the holes are good, but too many are humdrum.
Maybe in the summer when the leaves are out and the course is presented at its verdant best, my opinion might be different.
I’m glad I played Orchardleigh but it failed to get my golfing juices flowing despite an enjoyable round in pleasant winter weather.