Windermere Golf Club is spectacularly situated on high ground in the heart of the Lake District – England’s largest National Park and World Heritage site.
“Whoever first coined that atrocious phrase, ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled’ was more than likely an idiot.” Wrote Nick Edmond in Following the Fairways . “One thing’s for sure, he (or she) had never visited Windermere Golf Club in the Lake District. Golf not only takes us to such beautiful places, as Henry Longhurst used to say, but it regularly guides us to some beautiful vantage points. Had our idiot stood on the 8th tee at Windermere he would assuredly be forced to revise the ill-informed comment. Golf, if nothing else, is a good walk with a good incentive. (Better not tell that idiot then that the 8th at Windermere is called ‘Desolation’!)
Windermere Golf Club celebrated its centenary in 1991, Cleabarrow Fells, the land on which the course is laid out was originally leased from the Rector of Windermere before being purchase outright by the club in 1912. The 200 acres comprised, in addition to classically undulating Lakeland terrain, a serious amount of heather, bracken and rocks. However, it was soon converted into a sporting 9-hole course [by George Lowe the professional at and the designer of Royal Lytham St Annes Golf Club] and so well was this received that a further 9 holes were added before the end of 1892.
The Club’s centenary booklet reveals a colourful history. In the 1920s, the course measured 4,320 yards but had a par of 72 (today it is 5,122 yards, par 67.) Holes had interesting pars in those days and our friend ‘Desolation’ though a similar length as now at 143 yards, was a par three and a half!”
This was my first trip back to Windermere after an incredibly soggy debut there some 10+ years ago. I won’t wait this long again, as it is a terrific track, with many interesting holes. Its short, quirky and loads of fun. I can’t recall a course that fits so well into the land, and it just improves as you progress around the course.
Yes its short, there are 6 par 3s and only one par 5, so it’s a par 67, but what a challenge. I found I recalled around half the holes, no mean feat given the time between rounds, and testament to the wonderful design.
Every single shot needs to be thought through, and placed accurately. Given there are numerous blind tee shots, this means you need to come play here repeatedly. Thankfully I had an old member to guide me around, show me the lines off the tee, though he left me to find my own lines on the tricky greens. There were more 3 putts than 1 putts.
I loved the last 3 holes, a short but tight par 5 16th, the 17th which needs a drive as close as possible to the OOB to bring the green into sight for your approach, and a 200yd par 3 to finish. Par those three and you know your game is on point.
Windermere is a wonderful course that is extremely fun to play. It is really short, but don’t be fooled, as that doesn’t mean it’s easy or not a proper course. There are plenty of good holes here, and lots of elevation change which makes it really interesting. It’s different to 99% of courses which I love, and for this reason shouldn’t be missed. You’ll play it in 3 hours and will love every second
Set in the beautiful Lake District, Windermere is a short and quirky, fun course. The views are great, and there is enough going on with the course to make the player think. There are lots of short par 4s that give the players different options. This is introduced right from the start, with a blind tee shot over some rock faces, followed by a short downhill approach to the green. The 3rd is a driveable par 4, with a tricky green. The 5th could also be seen as a driveable par 4, but it is a massive dog leg left so if players don’t take on the corner they will still have a full shot into a green that slopes from back to front. As you would expect for a course in this part of the world, there’s lots of elevation change, which can make it hard to gauge what is the correct club to use. This is certainly the case on the back 9. There are some great longer par 3s, and the risk reward par 5 16th. In places this course can be narrow, and there are various O.B on parts of the course. This can make it a challenge, but I guess a course of this length (5,122 Par 67) needs to protect itself. All in all, a good golfing experience, and for me it is a northern hemisphere counterpart of New Zealand’s Arrowtown.
Located in the very heart of the Lake District, Windermere Golf Club must be one of the most adventurous golf courses I know and I make no apology for loving bamboozling layouts like this.
The course is full of nice surprises, lots of interesting features including rocky outcrops, bubbling becks, attractive ponds and of course some fine golf holes, not one of them remotely the same. I really can’t express how the uniqueness of each hole pleased me. You are able to use the tumbling slopes to your gain at times whilst at others you must fight the ascents.
The main thing that ties it all together, however, is the quality of the greens. And by that I don’t just mean the condition of the putting surfaces (which were very good for the time of year) but the slopes and contours fit their surrounds so brilliantly well. We often have raised greens with crowned surfaces, dell greens with gathering slopes and everything in-between; each one works so very well and adds to the defence of this course of modest length, on the scorecard at least.
The rounds gets your attention form the get-go with a blind drive over the crest of a jagged hill where we eventually discover a fairway dipping down sharply before rising equally quickly up to the green. The opening drive is the first of half-a-dozen blind shots but this all adds to the fun.
The entire first nine is excellent as we play through rolling valleys of heather and bracken. There is not a single bunker in sight but in truth the course doesn’t need them, nor is it allowed them as it is situated in a World Heritage Site with the stringent planning permissions of a National Park.
The second nine loops around the south side of the property as we initially head down and then around a woodland area before having to make a long climb for home. The stretch of holes between the 12th and 16th is very good and it may just have been tired legs on the uphill hike for home but I felt the final two holes didn’t quite match the quality of the rest, but are no less a test.
There isn’t a single par-four over the 400-yard mark but there are a few that feel much longer. The fourth is only 380-yards but looks almost double that stood on the tee, the seventh bends around a copse of trees and appears much lengthier than its 372-yards and the odd 17th plays so much more than its 355-yards.
It is also worth mentioning the dryness of the course on our visit in late-October, after a period of prolonged rain. It stood up remarkably well and for a region that is known for heavy rainfall I can imagine it plays well throughout the entire year.
To sum up Windermere; spectacular views of the surrounding fells and breathtaking scenery greet you at every turn, the golf is of a very high and varied standard and the off course catering facilities are wonderful. Windermere therefore comes highly recommended.
Ed is the founder of Golf Empire – click the link to read his full review.
An enjoyable golf course in the heart of the Lakes. Expect to find underlating fairways, uphill/downhill tee shots and beautfiul views of the Lakes in the distance.
I recall the final 3-4 holes being a good finish to the round and the overall course condition was good. It's not the sort of course I would go out of my way to play but if you want to get away from busy touristy towns of windermere/ambleside (especially in summer!) its worth playing.
I played this course on 9th September 2016 on an overcast day with intermittent rain showers. The area had suffered from prolonged heavy rain for a few days before we played and that was evident on certain parts of the course (holes 14, 16, 17). Despite the conditions the course was in great condition. A look at the scorecard shows a very short course, but due to the undulating terrain it feels a lot longer. There are some driveable par 4s but the par 3s all play very long, which is a welcome contrast to the shorter par 4s. I probably would become a little bored playing this course every week but I would certainly make a return as an away day trip. The clubhouse is excellent and the food and drink offering was very good. All in all I'd recommend a trip to Windermere for this course which I'd summarise as being a tougher challenge than a look at the scorecard suggests.
I like windemere but its a way off siloth