This might be the biggest "hidden gem" of all-time, particularly if you prefer links golf courses. There is a fee of approximately 50 pounds and you are a member for the day and can play as often as you want. I stayed in nearby Carlisle, about a 45 minute drive, and had my first round around 10AM as a single following a three ball. I was held up slightly on most holes but I did not mind as the day was gorgeous.
The round took just under three hours and after a one hour lunch break I was back out for the second round. I asked a father-son if they wanted to join me but they said no. The second round was much slower, but still enjoyable as I studied the course. The three some behind me never threatened me so I could have some fun on the second round playing from various bunkers near the green or practice putting to spots.
If this course were located outside London, near Liverpool, near Dublin, or anywhere in Scotland it would be a must play.
I liked everything about it and I can't stress that enough. There is a good mixture of holes here owning to a terrific routing. Although it seems short at 6641 yards from the back tees, it really is not given that the wind typically blows pretty fierce. Indeed, I was told before the start of my second round that some locals had shown up to get the round in due to the expected high winds and stormy weather for the next day.
The green complexes are really good, a mixture of uphill greens and downhill greens. There is a mixture of flattish greens and undulating greens, some well guarded by bunkers such as the short ninth, which plays downhill and is only about 140 yards. That was preceded by the hole closest to the water, a long, straight but well bunkered par 5 of about 560 yards.
One note, through the first fourteen holes I did spot areas where they could have extended the course another 250-300 yards if they chose to. It would not cost much to add new tees and walking paths on about five holes. After the first fourteen holes it would be very difficult to add yardage but I don't think any is necessary.
I almost feel like to point out any hole as weaker to the others would do a disservice to that hole. Perhaps only the short tenth, a dogleg left of about 320 yards is a weak hole as possibly is the 17th, a somewhat straight par five of 500 yards (although you are warned not to hit into the houses on the right: I couldn't imagine a shot so badly struck).
The greens are well conditioned as is the course. It is stunningly beautiful on a sunny day due to all of the purple on the heather. The heather is very thick on some holes.
For me the par threes were all excellent, two playing downhill and well defended and the other two playing to raised greens of much longer length. Yet many of the par fours were quirky with hidden greens or greens with sharp falloffs.
The hardest hole for me was the par five 13th which requires a second shot to thread a precise narrow shelf on the top of the hill with thick heather on both sides. A miss to the left is certainly a dropped shot and likely a lost ball. Even if you can navigate this second shot, one must hit a third into a green that is "infinity-like" to the left side. You simply cannot miss this green to the left.
Everyone should have a chance to play such a magnificent links course particularly given the value. Yes, it is way out of the way but Carlisle is a beautiful town and worth walking around it due to the castle and cathedral.
Date: September 28, 2019