East Midlands of England - Best In County Rankings 2019

17 October 2019 Respond to this article

East Midlands of England - Best In County Rankings 2019

Five counties in our East Midlands region – Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire – feature in this article, the first of seven English course re-ranking publications to appear in advance of our revised Top 100 table for England.

Covering an area of six thousand square miles, with a population of more than 4.5 million people, the East Midlands region is strategically positioned around the geographical centre of the country, in close proximity to London, but you would be hard pressed to describe it as a golfing powerhouse.

Still, around 170 golf clubs operate here and four of the 18-hole layouts in this area are nationally ranked at the moment, with two of them also comfortably embedded in our Great Britain & Ireland Top 100 chart. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at each of the five counties in question.


Derbyshire

Six courses remain in the same position in our new Top 10 for Derbyshire, and one of these is the No. 1 layout, Cavendish, which took over at the top from Kedleston Park when we updated the listings two years ago. Located in the market town of Buxton, close to the county boundary with Cheshire, the course is a short and hilly Alister MacKenzie layout that has managed to retain many of its original design traits.

Cavendish Golf Club

Cavendish Golf Club

Architect Jonathan Gaunt feels the course also had a large bearing on one of MacKenzie’s most famous courses: “Cavendish had quite a bit of influence on the making of Augusta National… with its relatively wide and sloping fairways, carefully and strategically-placed bunkers, meandering water hazards and dangerous greens… so much of what golfers love about Augusta can be found at Cavendish, almost untouched for 90 years – and still a challenge.”

Derbyshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Cavendish No change
2 Kedleston Park No change
3 Chesterfield No change
4 Burton-on-Trent Up 1
5 Horsley Lodge Down 1
6 Matlock No change
7 Erewash Valley No change
8 Buxton & High Peak Up 1
9 Chevin Down 1
10 Breadsall Priory (Priory) No change


Leicestershire & Rutland

Situated between Peterborough and Leicester, Luffenham Heath maintains its status as the No. 1 course in our Leicestershire & Rutland chart. It opened for play in 1911 with a match between Harry Vardon and James Braid to mark the occasion then Braid is credited with toughening up the original layout of Harry Colt’s design partner, C.H. Alison. Further revisions were made immediately after World War II by C.K. Cotton and a major bunker renovation was undertaken by Martin Hawtree in 2003.

Luffenham Heath Golf Club

Luffenham Heath Golf Club

Two courses move up two places in the new county standings. The first of these is Rothley Park at No. 3, which also celebrated its centenary in 2011, and it has benefitted from recent consultancy work carried out by Tom Mackenzie. The other chart climber is the bunker-free 9-hole Charnwood Forest course at No. 5. Formed in 1890, the club is the oldest in the county, and James Braid is again recognized as having made course improvements following a visit he made in 1927.

Leicestershire & Rutland Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Luffenham Heath No change
2 Longcliffe No change
3 Rothley Park Up 2
4 Leicestershire No change
5 Charnwood Forest Up 2
6 Willesley Park No change
7 Stapleford Park Down 4
8 Hinckley No change
9 Kirby Muxloe Up 1
10 Glen Gorse Down 1


Lincolnshire

Nobody should be in the slightest bit surprised to learn that the Hotchkin course at Woodhall Spa is still our No. 1 track in Lincolnshire – not only is it also listed in our Top 100 charts for both England and Great Britain & Ireland, it also occupies a very respectable position in our World Top 100. Don’t expect to see it knocked off its county perch any time soon, especially after a very well-received 3-year renovation that’s just been completed by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm.

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin course

Woodhall Spa Hotchkin course

Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary had this to say when he played there recently: “Tree clearance, vegetation clean-up and bunker improvements have amalgamated into a golf course today that has never looked better… some holes are truly unrecognizable due to the tree clearance... the heather that lines the fairways continues to get healthier… the course oozes good health and has a wide-open feel in places which brings improved light and air… overall, the results are not to be missed.”

Lincolnshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Woodhall Spa (Hotchkin) No change
2 Seacroft No change
3 Forest Pines (Forest & Pines) No change
4 Woodhall Spa (Bracken) No change
5 Belton Park (Brownlow) Up 1
6 Lincoln Down 1
7 Market Rasen Up 2
8 Elsham Down 1
9 Holme Hall Down 1
10 Spalding No change


Northamptonshire

The course at Northamptonshire County comfortably holds on to the No. 1 slot in Northamptonshire. Designed by Harry Colt in 1909, the layout was one of James Braid’s last projects when he visited in 1946 to upgrade the bunkers and remodel the closing hole. At the start of the new millennium, Cameron Sinclair then added an extra three holes, installed new tees and reworked some of the bunkers, bringing the course into line with modern day requirements.

Northamptonshire County Golf Club

Northamptonshire County Golf Club

Andy, our Marketing Director, visited Northamptonshire County earlier this year and this was his verdict: “The club are investing in the course with some great looking updated bunkers and the always needed woodland management/tree clearance program on heathland – views across the course are now so much better and that extra light and air can only help… I can only see positive opinions from golfers that play here.”

Mention should also be made of yet another James Braid design, Peterborough Milton, which opened with an exhibition match involving the architect on 20th May 1937. The layout rises two places to No. 4 in the county chart and this pleasant parkland track in the grounds of the 16th century Fitzwilliam estate is due to host the English Senior Women’s Amateur Championship next year.

Northamptonshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Northamptonshire County No change
2 Wellingborough No change
3 Northampton Up 1
4 Peterborough Milton Up 2
5 Collingtree Park Down 2
6 Brampton Heath Down 1
7 Kettering No change
8 Kingsthorpe No change
9 Staverton Park Up 1
10 Overstone Park Down 1


Nottinghamshire

The course at Notts Golf Club was first set out by Willie Park Junior more than a century ago and it was refined in its early years by J.H. Taylor and club professional Tom Williamson, who served the club for all of 54 years and had a hand in designing a number of Midlands courses during his tenure at Notts.

Notts Golf Club

Notts Golf Club

Hollinwell, as it’s called locally, is currently on the Final Open Qualifying roster, which tells you all you need to know about its pedigree as a well-maintained track, meeting the R&A’s stringent requirements of precision off the tee and accuracy with the approach shot. The club has made great efforts in recent years to promote firm and fast playing conditions, along with encouraging heather regeneration around the property.

There’s one new entry in the Nottinghamshire listing and it’s the Admirals course at Oakmere Park, which was first laid out by Frank Pennink in 1972. Tom Mackenzie has been involved in renovating all the bunkers and replacing a couple of blind holes with more appealing alternatives so this major upgrade is now reflected in the county rankings.

Nottinghamshire Top 10 Golf Courses 2019

Rank/ Course Move
1 Notts No change
2 Sherwood Forest No change
3 Coxmoor No change
4 Worksop No change
5 Wollaton Park No change
6 Newark No change
7 Oakmere Park (Admirals) New entry
8 Stanton-on-the-Wolds Down 1
9 Beeston Fields Down 1
10 Norwood Park (Norwood) No change


The next English region to be reappraised is the West Midlands, featuring Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses