To play or not to play? That is the question. A sense of humour, a good pair of lungs, the patience of a saint and more than a modicum of Lady Luck will help you navigate your way up, over, round and back down Painswick Beacon.
If you start and finish with the same ball, frame it.
The opening hole is probably the worst I’ve ever played – a short par four, straight up a precipitous hill with no redeeming features. When you reach the 2nd tee you’ll probably have time on your hands to catch your breath and for your heart rate to lower.
The 2nd and the 3rd share the same Cotswold Way playing corridors with the 13th and 14th on the way home. The Cotswold Way is a very popular walking trail which traverses the escarpment for more than 100 miles from Chipping Campden in the north to the city of Bath in the south. It was busy with both serious walkers and rambling families when we played a couple of weeks ago. We waited for what felt like ages on the 3rd tee until a walker (who was carefully studying his map) was out of harm’s way. He was either oblivious to mortal danger or completely confident we’d wait for him to amble by.
Painswick has more than its fair share of blindness… I’ve never before played a course with three blind (not mice) par threes, so this was a first for me. I felt the routing, especially around the beacon, to be bewildering and clumsy at best. However, there’s plenty to like… the green complexes are mostly good and the 200-yard par three 6th is an all-world one-shotter that would not look out of place at Ballybunion. I also liked the blind short par four 11th and the par three 15th played blind into a pretty glade.
My main concern was that fairways and tee boxes were full of perennial weeds. Some of the tees were just bare earth and very, very uneven. These would be considered poor at any course.
Thankfully my expectations were managed before I played here by a number of knowledgeable golfers. Tim Elliot’s review below set the bar at an appropriate level. What can you reasonably expect for a £20 green fee?
Do I recommend Painswick? Yes I do. Do I consider it to be an English Top 100 contender? No I don’t. However, if there was a category for Top 100 Golf Courses under £25, Painswick would be very near the top.
In the end, I couldn’t decide whether Painswick is golf or orienteering. But it actually doesn’t matter. It’s an experience that mixes fun and fear in equal measure. Take a few extra balls, an optional compass and sharpen your wits.
Date: May 03, 2021