Located just outside the little market town of Highworth, the 18-hole layout at Wrag Barn Golf Club is a 1989 Simon Gidman design (when he worked with Hawtree Ltd) which the Manners family built and still operate.
Occupying a 130-acre parkland site, the course extends to 6,622 yards from the tips, playing to a par of 72, with tree-lined holes arranged as two returning nines across a pleasantly undulating landscape that occasionally brings water into play.
Feature holes include the signature 198-yard par three 5th, with the green positioned behind a pond in the southernmost part of the property, and the shortest of five par fours on the outward half at the uphill 352-yard 8th, rated stroke index 1.
On the back nine, the slightly left doglegging 464-yard 15th is a beast of a long par four, followed a couple of holes later by the 482-yard 17th, where a ditch circles the front of a raised green that’s delightfully buttressed with wooden sleepers.
Wrag Barn is an undulating parkland layout built 30 years ago. It has an abundance of tree-lined fairways which creates a premium on accurate driving.
At 6400 yards off the Yellow tee boxes (it is only 220 yards more off the Whites) the golf course seems long. This may be because we played after a wet summer spell and the well-grassed fairways and light rough didn’t offer a lot of roll. The pace of the greens was also quite slow. Having said that, the course is well maintained and a pleasure to play.
Good scoring wasn’t easy with most of the par4s requiring two good blows to reach large greens, where 3 putting was all too easy. The signature hole which is the 5th, a par3 of 166 yards over a large pond and into a strong wind, found me out in no uncertain manner.
My acid test of a golf course is how many of the holes do I remember shortly after playing it for the first time. In this regard, Wrag Barn was struggling until the stretch of 4 finishing holes. The 15th is a long uphill par4 of 453 yards but with a wide fairway, the 16th a relatively easy downhill par3, 17 is a dog leg short par5 to a delightful raised green largely surrounded by a ditch and 18 requires a strong blow from the tee to an uphill fairway, before the approach shot over a bunker and onto a pretty green right in front of the Clubhouse.
We played Wrag Barn on a windy day which largely kept the expected rain at bay. The course is above average, even if it’s testing condition had us exhausted by the end.