|The course at Ramsdale Park Golf Centre was designed by Martin Hawtree and Simon Gidman in 1992 and is one of the best pay-and-play facilities in central England.|
I have played on many courses where the front and back nines are contrasting but never where the difference is as dramatic as at Ramsdale.
Indeed, the hills on the way home are so intimidating by comparison with the flat land of the way out, the two members who joined Mrs W and myself departed at the halfway mark.
This was the third time I had played the course and Mrs W's first. It has certainly grown on me and, as we both discovered, allows great opportunities to score but also can present some stern challenges.
In previous rounds, I have played for my club's senior team so have started from the yellow tees - thus, I was intrigued to understand the difference from the whites.
The answer is not much - until the aforementioned back nine.
Let's be honest, there's not much to excite in the first three holes at Ramsdale - all easily reachable par-fours. The fourth, is marginally more intriguing because it's a bit longer.
There's a bit more spice on the fifth around a copse to the right on to a green protected by bunkers and the par-three sixth over a pond which homes some of the largest fish I have ever seen.
So, don't be surprised to be substantially under par when reaching the turn (I was) and see gains progressively whittled away.
The 'fun' begins after a wooded walk so steep that a courtesy bus used to ferry golfers to the 10th tee.
After gathering one's breath, there is another ascent for the stroke index one, a 443-yard par--four into a green perched above a sharp incline. Finding the target in two demands a player much stronger than me.
The 11th has been my nemesis on each of my Ramsdale rounds and proved to be again. I don't know why - it looks a straightforward uphill par-three and the brook after about 110 yards should be irrelevant - but it is somehow daunting.
Anywhere but right should be the mantra on hole 12 - a downhill par-four with fabulous views over Nottinghamshire. Alas, my tee shot faded into the deep rough next to the farmer's field.
If those holes weren't tough enough, they are followed by the remarkable 13th.
I am conflicted here because this ascending par-five is undeniably quirky and should light my candle but there is such a shocking slope from left to right that, in the middle of summer, it is almost impossible to hit the fairway.
I hit centrally from the tee and ended up in the right hand rough and Mrs W smashed a drive way down the left only to find her ball nearly as wide right as mine.
The quest continues past a tree in the middle of the fairway and towards a green guarded by bunkers. This was one of the best par-fives I have ever scored. I felt like putting my shirt over my head and doing a lap of honour.
In contrast, the 14th was a drive round a 90-degree dogleg before a drop so steep it required only a very gentle chip towards the flag.
The 15th has the course's most pulsating tee shot - over a fishing pond down towards a curving, rising fairway.
Avoiding water, trees and sand is an achievement but doesn't ensure success because the green is hidden behind a mound at the front and bunkers on both sides.
The 17th sums up the crazy slopes of the back nine - an uphill 152-yard par-three which needs two clubs more to reach its green because leaving the ball short will ensure a 20/30-yard run back down the fairway.
The 18th is a decent home hole from an elevated tee bending around the Ramsdale's first-class driving range to a green overlooking a modern, welcoming clubhouse where substantial food is served.
As said, we enjoyed our game and - in the height of a hot summer - the course condition was impressive and the greens were consistently good.
n football you often hear the phrase 'a game of two halves'. Equally in golf you will hear some courses described as having 2 distinct nines (front and back). Well Ramsdale Park is almost a course split into 4 parts! Holes 1-4 and 9 are played out over relatively flat land close to the clubhouse. Holes 5-8 are played out across a small lane over what appears to have previously been fields, then holes 10 - 13 are played up and around the top of the only hill in the area, to be finally followed by holes 14-18 which play back down the other side of the hill, back up and again and finally down again to the finish back at the clubhouse. Whilst that sounds disjointed, and the distance from green to tee on the back nine in particular are spaced in some cases along way apart, the course is actually a lot of fun to play.
Ramsadle Park has an 18 hole par 3 course and also a Pirates Cove Adventure Golf so you can see that it is aimed at Families, Societies and fun golf. However when you step onto the 1st of the Seely Course you are commencing on a fun but serious round of golf.
The course has quite a few sharp dog legs and the 1st is one of these. These dog legs (1st, 3rd, 5th, 9th, 14th) are quite severe - the 14th is almost a sharp handbrake turn dog leg right! - so for those who have played the course before and are big hitters, the corners can be taken dramatically shortening the route to green. For those which haven't played before, playing simply what you can see means that you may end up further back for your 2nd shots.
The 1st 4 holes are played through wide fairways and mature tree lined. And that's the beauty of this course. The wide fairways are ideal for a busy golf course and society golf, giving plenty of room for errant drives. The trees and long foot high rough however which then fringe each fairway does mean that if your drive is erratic you will lose a shot at best or the ball at worst.
The pick of the 1st four holes is the 4th, a long 473 yard par 4 (my Arccos suggested it was a par 5 so it looks like the hole has been shortened a tad) A gentle sweeping right to left hole with the 1st fairway bunkers about 220 yards off the tee. A wide landing strip and a second 250 yard shot from those bunkers to the green. The greens throughout the course were consistent and ran true. There appeared to be more breaks and movement than there actually was. Most putts went straight on the greens but the speed was good.
You then cross the lane to holes 5-8, a mixture of par 4, par 5's and two par 3's. Initial observation was that it looked like a big field, but in fairness after teeing off on the 5th and wandering to the dog leg, the mature trees start to frame the hole and the green was beautifully cut into the banking, protected by bunkers front and right and a long narrow green.
The two par 3's in this section are nice, the 1st played over water 156 yards and the 8th is a straight forward 143 yard hole, played uphill and into a stiff wind when we played yesterday. The par 5 sandwiched in between is another gentle right to left. 3 good shots and a birdie or par awaits.
You then cross back across the lane and the 9th plays back alongside the 4th. again better for knowing big hitters can play over the trees and hedges to the left. Anyone else play down to the dog leg leaving a long 2nd to a green higher than you.
Then you enter into a another World. Having climbed, thats right - climbed - the hill several hundred feet, you arrive at the 10th which is a lovely looking hole with fantastic views across the Nottinghamshire countryside. another long par 4 at 442 yards, the hole initially plays down hill before climbing to a green above you on the hillside. You can continue to climb the hill and play a delightful par 3, uphill 150 yard onto a green you cannot see. again a feature of the a lot the greens are long and narrow and this is no different.
Then you reach the top and play a long par 4 457 yards down hill but given the land falling away the hole plays a lot shorter. again used to be a par 5. The most unfair hole features next as you play alongside the hillside which means the par 5 13th playing 526 yards, has the land falling away to the right all along the hole. So even a good tee shot up the left hand side will see your ball run 100+ yards across the fairway to the right side. The green is also cut into the hillside with trouble all right. Bunkers are to the right which in fairness would stop your ball running down the hillside. The green had the pin tucked into the back right and the green slopes away to the right, so my playing partner ended up putting across the green and off down the hillside. A par is a very good result.
You then wander several hundred yards around the hillside to the other side of the hill and play the 390 yard par 4 which is the severe dog leg right downhill. There is a marker to give you a steer on where to play to and then a 2nd shot down to the green which gently slopes back to front and helps stop your ball. Big hitters can take the corner, but this is a real risk reward hole. Get it wrong and you're hitting your 2nd ball off the tee for 3!
The 15th is played from a little further down the hillside onto the valley floor. The tee shot is played over trees and shrubs before starting a gentle climb to the par 5 green. A good driving hole.
The 16th then plays back alongside the 15th and up to a green which starts the climb back up the hillside, carried on by the 17th, an uphill short par 3 150 yards, but all carry.
You then climb up to the 18th tee. we teed off the Blue Championship tees to get the best views and experience of the 18th which is a good finishing hole. The views around the back 9 have been spectacular. The holes have been more challenging given the hillside, the climbs and mature woodland around it, but the fairways have remained generous and the greens run true.
The 18th green is a great complex, long and narrow, protected by bunkers and mounds to the front and left and right. Again the putt ran straight.
Nottinghamshire has a lot of good (3, 3 1/2 and 4 ball courses) outside the Top 10 rankings. Ramsdale Park, alongside The Nottinghamshire (Cotgrave) and Rufford Park Golf and Country Club contend for those next ranking slots. My pick out of these remains Rufford, but Ramsdale is a good course well worth seeking out for the money, where you are rewarded with an interesting round with great scenery, some good holes, well maintained greens (not sure what was happening with the bunkers but majority were GUR) and of course there's always the par 3 18 holes and the crazy golf if you have the time!
An excellent society venue. It felt like the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere with some plain opening holes seen from the drive that play as somewhat of a procession. This gave no idea of the fun to be had later on particularly the upper holes which were nothing less than great golf with superb views and challenging shots. Good value venue enjoyed by everyone.
Played the Seely course today and considering the recent weather the course was in great shape. As stated the front 9 is much easier than the back but it is still excellently designed with lovely green complexes and well thought out bunkering. The views on the back 9 are superb especially the view from the 11th tee box. My personal favourite holes were the 10th and the 16th both were very picturesque par 4s. Some work is on going this winter so looking forward to returning in the summer