Studley Wood is located in pretty countryside east of Oxford and is an interesting open parkland golf course, yet is in parts heavily-wooded. Fortunately a lot of clearance has taken place beneath the trees so if your ball goes astray into a wooded area you will normally find it and the penalty is often not a full shot. At times the woodland creates a very narrow gap into which to hit the ball, for instance the approach shots at 6 and 12 and tee shot at 17.
Water is a continual theme with a number of small lakes close to the fairways. Rather than being a design feature, the fact that the underlying terrain is clay probably causes some waterlogging, but on the sunny June day we played, the tees, fairways and greens were all in excellent condition. The greens were the star of the show, they were quite outstanding. They were also pacy and rewarded good putting if that part of your game was on song.
The four par threes are of similar length with protection from bunkers, water or both. On these holes your mid-iron tee shots have to be firm and straight to avoid trouble, but once on the largish greens you have every chance of making a par.
The other holes were varied and never dull, with two runs of difficult par fours from 1 to 3 and again 12 to 15, but it is the 5 par fives where your score can be made. Only one is over 500 yards from the silver tees which are the equivalent of the yellows on most courses. I liked finishing with two of them, and believe the signature 18th with its raised tee, long straight fairway narrowing to about 40 yards between two lakes where the average player should land his second shot, and then comparatively easy pitch to a wide green, is a seriously good ending. Risk and reward!
Studley Wood is fun to play, it is challenging and fair and now in its 26th year has settled down well. We were lucky to play on a calm day in very dry conditions, it would be far harder to overcome all the obstacles if it was wet and windy. A few less trees in places would probably enhance its playability, but then they have probably been left in situ for good reason.
Date: June 23, 2021