Established in 1911, Rothley Park Golf Club had a full 18-hole layout in operation within a year of its formation, with James Braid and Harry Vardon playing an exhibition match to mark the opening of the new course.
A number of improvements to the original layout have obviously taken place during the following hundred years of play, all of which enabled the club to proudly co-host the England Senior Amateur championships in 2016.
In recent times, Tom Mackenzie from architects Mackenzie & Ebert has advised the club on a number of design concerns, primarily in relation to addressing issues with the penultimate and closing holes.
Today, this parkland beauty measures 6,501 yards from the back markers, with tree-lined fairways offering golfers almost total isolation from the outside world, except at the 2nd and 15th, where the Great Central railway line runs alongside both fairways.
Rothley Brook cuts across both the 2nd and 18th but these are the only two holes where water comes into play during a round here. Out of bounds restrictions on a number of the holes are far more likely to affect golfers who stray from the tightly mown grass.
Feature holes on the front nine include short par fours at the 5th and the 8th, which present good birdie opportunities. On the other hand, the 457-yard 9th is a monster, rated stroke index 1, playing downhill to a green that falls away on three sides.
On the inward half, the tough par four 13th hole is peculiar in that it shares a green with the par three 4th and the last of the three short holes on the card is played as early as the 12th hole, leaving a tough half dozen holes to finish the round.
The best hole on the layout is regarded by many as the 522-yard 15th, the first of two par fives in the closing four-hole sequence. Even though the hole plays downhill, there’s out of bounds to worry about on either side and a front-to-back sloped green to contend with.
There are a few good traditional parkland courses close to Leicester and Rothley Park is certainly one of the better ones. High quality greens and an interesting tree lined layout set in the most rural of locations make for a thoroughly enjoyable day's golf. There is great variety amongst the par 4's, with three or four gentle birdie chances offset by five holes stretching beyond 400 yards from the yellow tees. Of these the 6th, 9th and 14th, with OB on both sides, are particularly difficult. Although the course is not overly long from the white tees at 6500 yards, (6140 yellow), the well positioned bunkers, some narrow fairways and a few internal OB's help make the course a stiff test for most. The 18th, one of only two par 5's, is a great hole to finish on. Doglegging left around a pond, the approach must avoid a cluster of new bunkers which offer a stern and visually impressive defence. If the club could introduce more of the quality bunkering seen on 18th throughout other parts of the course then Rothley Park's stock could rise considerably. Brian W