Frilford Heath Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Robert Cross who played Frilford Heath (Blue) in May 2018
Located in Abingdon, Oxfordshire sitting amongst the picturesque surrounding areas of Frilford is Frilford Heath Golf Club. Over nearly 100 years of golf design and history, players can choose from three courses, each with a different challenge, Red, Green and Blue.
Recently opened is the Yellow Course which is a six-hole layout split into three loops and features Huxley Golf all-weather surfaces, which caters for all levels of golfer. Golf Shop and Performance Centre has also been unveiled with simulators and custom fitting all available. The Club House (originally a country manor house) has been extended and refurbished with a lovely patio area overlooking the putting green; the changing rooms downstairs are spacious and have good signage, pointing you in the right directions.
Membership is available through a set process (application and interview) with visitors and societies welcome. Current summer package (May 2018) offers players £100 per day during the week and £125 at weekends which is great value considering you have the option of three courses.
I was lucky enough to play the Blue Course, which opened in 1994 and was designed by Simon Gidman. The course has a modern, open look, numerous water hazards particularly early on in the round, with some holes almost giving an inland links feel. The course has a great variety of holes, with some open fairways and also tree lines holes. The yellow gorse was starting to flower lending itself to some lovely views.
Golfshake were invited to take part in the PGA EuroPro Tour Pro-Am, as part of the team I was really excited to play here, and I received very positive comments when discussing with friends who had visited Frilford Heath.
The welcome was good, we ate breakfast pre-round which was of a high standard with a buffet style service. Playing in May 2018 (after a seriously wet April) the weather was fantastic, sunny with a slight breeze.
Front 9 Overview
Frilford Heath Blue starts with a Par 4 that dog-legs to the left. Measuring 390 yards from the back tees, a ditch across the fairway pushes the player to lay-up. Water down the left of the fairway for a mid-iron approach and a tricky green await, a good start to the course.
Another dog-leg left and a Par 3 follow, with the 4th being a Par 5 that is reachable in two with a good drive down the left hand side of the fairway. The 6th hole is a great Par 3, the tee shot is almost blind and measuring 196 yards off the white tees a long iron is required. The green slopes heavily from left to right, but with bunkers short, and alongside the green on the right, an accurate tee shot is required.
Finishing the front 9 is a memorable Par 4, 427 yards. Tree lined for the first 300 yards of the hole, with water down the right side from 250 yards. The player can choose to lay-up short and have a long approach into a tricky green, or be aggressive and make sure the tee shot is safely down the left of the fairway.
Back 9 Overview
The back 9 starts with a cracking Par 4, a hole which has an inland links feel to it. Bright yellow gorse surrounds the fairways and green, with wind playing a factor. A solid tee shot needed as the large raised green which slopes right to left demands a well thought out approach.
Four of the last five holes on the Blue Course are all worth a mention, starting with stroke index 1, 14th hole, a Par 4 measuring either 474 or 436 yards dependant on the tee of the day. A blind tee shot, to the hill brow and then the fairway sweeps down to the green. Keep the tee shot left, and the approach slopes right to left.
Next up is the Par 5, 15th hole which measures 488 yards, a great birdie chance after a tough hole. Another blind tee shot, anything right will be met with heavy rough and spiky gorse, with bunkers waiting left. The approach, if left or short will be gobbled up by awaiting bunkers and the green is small so accuracy is key.
17th hole is a brute. Measuring 597 yards and playing into wind on the day. Four bunkers sit right in the landing zone off the tee at around 250 yards, with the fairway measuring 12 yards wide at this point. It’s a three shot hole, but a lay-up is still made tricky with the narrow fairway and bunkers on the right and left.
The round concludes with a tough Par 4, 429 yards. Visually the trees down the left almost push the player to hit their tee shot down the right, where heavy rough waits. An approach from the right brings the sole bunker on this hole into play, but there is a good gap until the green. A tee shot down the middle left can be rewarded with a big bounce off the slope giving the advantage of a short iron approach. The green is raised so anything not on line will likely mean a chip back onto the dance floor. The green itself has subtle slopes, a tough finish to any round.
The condition of the course was fantastic. The greens were flawless, quick and true. If we missed it wasn’t anything to do with the greens. The course itself couldn’t be faulted; fairways and tees were of a high standard, along with the bunkers and fringes. The BBQ we had afterwards on the patio was good; there was a really nice vibe and buzz about the clubhouse and bar.
Frilford Heath is one of the best courses I’ve played. I would love to go back and play this course (maybe even on the Red and Green). The condition was a pleasure, especially at the time of year.
Overall Rating - 10
Course (Conditions) - 10
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 7
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 9
Value for Money - 8
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