The purpose of the Review of The Month feature is twofold. Top100GolfCourses has always aimed to salute and encourage those who are putting admirable effort into reviewing the world’s great golf courses. Moving forward, we are also looking to learn from these experts! We’ll be chatting with the month’s star authors and discussing topics such as golf in their area, what they like to see in a strong course review, and of course dig a little deeper into their own winning review.
March 2022’s Review of The Month comes from Faiz Alam, who gave readers a keen insight into Church Stretton Golf Club.
1. You open by noting that Church Stretton presents both "bewilderment" and "adventure." Is there a fine line when walking between those ideas?
Yes, I think there can be a fine line but a real adventure needs a bit of bewilderment to make it challenging and more exciting. On the other hand, too much bewilderment might just make it a stressful experience! I think Church Stretton is bewildering for so many reasons: the blind shots, the massive changes in elevation but most of all I found myself coming back to the incredible notion that the founders thought this was a good site to build a golf course. Some amazing foresight at a time when the locals must have thought it was absurd. To play golf so high looking down on the valleys and land beneath lends the course a certain magical aspect.
2. Blind shots can be divisive when analyzing a golf course. Do you believe Church Stretton may appeal to one golfer and not another?
Certainly, I think as a traveling golfer you need to approach each course with an open mind and appreciate the quirks and charm of each course. Church Stretton is not a long course and I feel that the blind shots play an important part in the course’s defence. One part of the round which I really enjoyed was tackling these blind shots and the feeling of satisfaction when you finally saw your ball on the green or fairway.
3. Much of the current course is attributed to James Braid. How does Church Stretton stand among the other Braid designs you've had the opportunity to play?
Amongst the Braid designs I've played, Church Stretton is undoubtedly my favourite. I would argue that it is a bit underappreciated. I was surprised to enjoy it as much as I did given some past reviews. I am not sure that it qualifies as a top 100 course but if there was such a thing as “top 100 experiences,” this would rank highly for me.
4. The photos you included as part of the review demonstrate the jaw-dropping views across Shropshire from the course. Course design aside, do such views impact the enjoyment of your day at the club?
I think it would be hard to play at Church Stretton and not be blown away by the stunning scenery. We are fortunate to play a sport that highlights the surrounding natural beauty and this course presents you with beautiful England at every turn. You can't help but drink it all in on every hole.
5. Now that you're a celebrated "Review of The Month" winner, let us know what factors you appreciate in a strong golf course review!
My favourite part of the site is reading through reviews of courses that I may never even get to play. I am lucky to have won Review of The Month but there are many styles of review that I appreciate and learn from. Some are short and concise but capture the essence of the course. Others are longer and tell of the experience throughout the day. Both have their place but what is most important for me is to remain open-minded and try to describe what makes the course worth visiting. What lingers in your memory, what would bring you back. And please share pictures!
6. What's one course that you'd love to write a review for during 2022 (or plan to)?
I am slowly trying to complete the English Top 100 and next on the list is Ganton.