The International course at The Vale Golf & Country Club is a 1991 Bob Sandow creation that is mature beyond its years. The par 74 layout measures an eye-watering 7,555 yards from the tips and it’s even a testy 6,648 yards from the yellow tees.
There are two courses at The Vale, the 18-hole international, and the shorter 9-hole Lenches course. We played the international on a typical overcast day in England, on arrival you are greeted with the large modern clubhouse sitting at the centre of the facility with great views out to both courses. The condition of the course was relatively average, the fairways were a little bare in places and the rough was hard under foot, but alot of this could be attributed to the hot weather the area has seen over the past month.
The routing of the course is good, with the 1st / 10th tee starting at the clubhouse, the 9th / 18th green sitting alongside them. The track starts off relatively simply with pretty open fairways down holes 1 and 2. Number 3 is a great little par 3 with the backdrop of the large hill covered in forest, and this is a feature that appears throughout the course. Hole 4 to 6 run alongside the forest line with number 5 another good little par 3. Water comes into play a little more on number 7, quickly following onto the severely uphill 8th hole which finishes atop a slope with fantastic views over Worcestershire. The 9th in my opinion was the signature hole, tee-ing off from the top of the hill by the 8th green, over a small ditch which intersects the fairway, then into the heavily guarded green with the clubhouse sitting behind. A good drive and mid-iron on here leaves you a good chance for eagle.
The 10th runs alongside the 1st and the holes following this are relatively straightforward with some tight landing zones off the tee. The par 3's on the back 9 are quite similar in both yardage and design, a good length of the yellows. 15 is a blind tee shot over the hill, down to a submerged green with only a marker to pick out the pin position. From here 16 and 17 are generally flat holes with water coming into play especially around the greens. 18 is a good length par 4, water down the left and bunkers on the right to catch anything off line, a good finishing hole in front of the clubhouse.
If you are in the area, this is good facility to check out, a long course of the yellows (6600 yards) with a wide range of holes, and plenty of water to keep you entertained. We visited in late afternoon, and for a twilight green fee of £15, it really can't be knocked.
Design - 6
Setting - 8
Playability - 8.5
Presentation - 5
Memorability - 7
TOTAL - 34.5 / 50