Established in 1902, Stowmarket Golf Club operated on a couple of different sites before settling on its current location at Finborough Park in the early 1960s. Charles Grayson and Fred Hawtree both bid for the design contract, with Grayson chosen to lay out the eighteen holes.
In 1968, a mere five years after the new course opened for play, Hawtree was invited to design six new greens so one can only imagine what might have been going on with the layout in the very early days of its existence.
Routed in an old-fashioned out-and-back style, the course extends to just over 6,000 yards from the back tees, playing to a par of 69, and it’s one of only a select number of golfing layouts that finish back at the clubhouse with a par three final hole..
Highlight holes include the demanding downhill 4th (measuring 247 yards from the back tees), the left doglegging 12th (rated stroke index 2 on the card), and the “signature” 17th, where the tight, tree-lined fairway leads to a long, narrow green.
As you move away from the Ipswich heathland and coastal courses of Suffolk, there are a few courses left in the county that are worth playing if in the area. Stowmarket is one of these.
Starting with an exciting par 5 which cambers significantly from left to right on the approach shot, the course is relentless in its test for the first 5 holes.
No.5 provides the best tee shot of the course with a light draw required to leave a mid iron approach into the most undulating green on the course.
The signature hole is the 6th, a short par 4 which is driveable in the heat of summer, but beware leaking your drive right as you will have no option but to chip out.
Other notable holes include the 13th (Long Par 5 which plays downhill through a narrow chute of trees for the approach), 15th (Gorgeous second downhill shot to a well protected green with plenty of movement) and the 17th which is considered one of the most challenging par 4's in the region.
Stowmarket is well maintained through-out the year, especially considering the clay base the course resides on.
My only criticism would be holes 4 (an lumber-some 250 yard par 3, which would be a considerably better short par 4) and hole 16 which suffers from a fairway more suited to a ski slope, proving impossible to hold in summer.
Overall a brilliant members golf course that is always welcoming to visitors.
The course at Stowmarket is decent and worth a visit but do set your expectations beforehand. This is a very strong members club with a number of returning groups each year proving that the popularity of the club is obvious. The Top 5 ranked courses of Suffolk write themselves (the Top 4 being part of the English 100) but positions 6-10 are up for grabs and #7 for Stowmarket feels about right.
The course opens with a strong par-5, not in length (496 yards) but in design; a little downhill with a fairway that falls away to the right and then the second half of the hole moves back to the left to the green. A pretty 160 yard hole is the second hole before moving to land with the bulk of the holes. There are seven holes that can certainly be described as a little up and down and very adjacent to each other (3rd, 4th, 13th, 14th, 15th 16th and 17th) – of this group the 438 yard 17th is the pick; tree lined with a slight movement to the right from tee to green, very strong indeed.
I think the 7th (392 yards) is another notable hole that I enjoyed; a slight uphill drive, with a small left turn in the fairway around halfway to the green.
Stowmarket is worth playing as a visitor and there are enough strong holes to mix in with some predictable ones to warrant a visit – and although the course does end on a 160 yard par-3, it is probably the pick of the short holes for me.