Tadmarton Heath Golf Club is a pretty little course sited close to the small market town of Banbury and its charming old Cotswold stone clubhouse (converted from a farmhouse) is very much in keeping with its rustic surroundings. You could say that it’s a course for the connoisseur who appreciates traditional golfing challenges.
According to Frank Pennink's Choice of Golf Courses: "One of the most delightful of the smaller, more remote clubs to be found anywhere in England – moreover, situated in an area sparsely provided with golf courses. It is one of the favourite courses of Roger Wethered, who used to return to it year after year when the Oxford University Divots played against the club – an outing which they enjoyed as much as any, as I can vouch."
Donald Steel is also an admirer of the course, opining that “it has what may conveniently be described as a split personality, the first nine holes being fairly open and the second nine possessing a characteristic commonly associated with heathland golf – a profusion of gorse which makes some of the fairways alarmingly narrow.”
With only one par five – the 484-yard 5th – on the scorecard, Tadmarton Heath’s 5917-yard length may be short by modern standards but discerning golfers know only too well what a delightful 18-hole layout it is to play.
The 139-yard 7th is probably the pick of the four par three holes here, with the tee shot played across Holy Well on its way to the green. The short par four 15th is another interesting hole on the inward half but visitors should take note that both nines end with lengthy two-shotters that might just catch them unawares.
In 2013, as the club nears its centenary, Ken Moodie was commissioned as part of a 5-year plan to oversee a renovation programme which included the remodelling of all 69 bunkers and the rebuilding of at least nine greens.
After a pleasant drive into the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside, Tadmarton Heath just oozes traditional golfing charm with it's stone buildings and setting. Delightful views from the carpark and range greet you, although sadly very few views from the course itself. The course was in reasonable condition although the greens were on the slow side, but playing in October one can only imagine that the gorse in full bloom would be quite a picture as it lines many of the fairways and green surrounds. I thought the course started promisingly enough with 2-4 nice holes and the only par 5 at the 5th and a nice looking short par 3 at 7. Thereafter I'm not sure the course built on it's early promise, not helped by close incidence of tees and greens on the back nine which did slow play down; the par 3 greens at 10 and 16 sat next to each other was unusual. Not a long course but it did have some long par 4's including at 9 and 18, neither of which stirred the juices. My favourite hole was the 14th, a dog-leg par 4 of around 375 yards requiring an accurate tee shot and a well struck second; a real nice looking hole that would fit beautifully into the red course at Frilford. Overall by the end of the round I was left a bit undecided on how much I enjoyed the course and think I'd like to return when the gorse is in full bloom for a second go.
Situated a short drive from the town of Banbury this delightful fast running course was a joy to play in mid-May when the plentiful gorse was in full canary-yellow bloom.
The Club itself is delectable with the olde-worlde buildings comprising of a pro-shop, changing rooms, clubhouse and offices. The courtyard layout creates a lovely atmosphere as you arrive at the club.
At less than 6,000 yards this is not a long golf course but is unlikely to be overpowered. There are times when you are able to open your shoulders but for the majority of the time accuracy from the tee is the most important element, especially on the much tighter (and better) back nine.
If I had to pick a favourite hole on the course it would be the short 10th. It is played over a mass of heather, gorse and sand with a really sneaky green. It sums up the best of Tadmarton Heath in its 114 yards; fun, tricky and gloriously beautiful.
Admittedly I wouldn’t want to play all my golf at Tadmarton but I thoroughly enjoyed a round here and would return because it’s such a lovely place to play.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.