Tewkesbury Park Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Andrew Picken. Images Courtesy of Andy Hiseman
Tewkesbury Park is situated an hour from Birmingham or Bristol, and 90 minutes from Cardiff or Oxford. It is just off Junction 9 of the M5, making it accessible for guests coming from around the country. There is an imposing half a mile drive up the private road to the hotel through the courses. The views from this location are stunning.
The course is a classic parkland layout designed by the acclaimed golf architect Frank Pennink. Measuring 6,579 yards, it's set in 163 acres of Gloucestershire countryside next to the historic town Tewkesbury.
Pennink designed Vilamoura Old Course in Portugal along with a number of other quality designs in Europe. He was an English Amateur Champion, national press golf correspondent, international golf course architect and author of A Golfer's Companion, a guide to 128 of the finest courses in Great Britain and Ireland.
One of his design trademarks was the placing of a tree in the middle of the fairway or target line of the golfer from the tee. This feature is visible on the 2nd, 13th and 14th fairways at Tewkesbury Park. This feature forces the golfer to consider lines from the tee and accuracy is required to have any sort of a second shot. The trees are very well established and their canopy provides a hazard with a substantial footprint.
The site has been in use since the 14th Century with the main Manor house having been built in the 18th Century. It is easy to see why the location was originally selected as it allows panoramic, breathtaking views to the Malvern Hills, across the Cotswolds and over the town itself. It has an imposing lofty view for 360 degrees over the valley below.
When it comes history, the house was afforded a grandstand view of the massacre of thousands of Lancastrian soldiers by Yorkist supporters in the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury during the War of the Roses. Next to the course is an area of open ground known as Bloody Meadow because of its significance to this event.
Nine of the top quality suites have been named after key characters who featured in the battle.
I consider myself lucky that we were allocated the Richard the Third Suite. It was beautiful. It was modern, comfortable, well heated and ventilated with a great colour palette and comfortable furniture. When you travel as much as I do, a comfortable bed is something you immediately notice and this was just that. The views from the three sash windows were fabulous and these were replicated from the superb bathroom. There was a deep free standing bath with a separate walk in double shower room. A separate dressing room area completed the luxury package. This is the perfect suite for a couple’s getaway.
There are a number of dog friendly rooms with family suites also available. If you wish to play golf with your dog you are able to do so by taking accord of some simple and practical suggestions from the management.
The golf accommodation tends to be adjacent to the course allowing more glorious panoramic views. The ground floor golf rooms have exterior seating including some deck chairs for the balmy summer evenings. There were a couple of golf society groups staying for an away day and they unanimously praised the facility, the course and staff interaction.
The food in the dining room was exquisite, well presented and mainly based around local fresh produce.
The breakfast was superb again with an emphasis on local products. The service was friendly without being overbearing and pretentious and it was great to see fine dining adapted for the needs of a young family without a second glance.
The dining area is well designed and the floor to ceiling glass windows and doors make the surrounding countryside as much a part of the hotel as possible. There is a croquet lawn, putting green and outside games area that was loved by children. I have to admit to having a go at the giant Jenga and Connect 4. This area also has a number of canvas deck chairs that are perfect for lolling in taking in the views and watching the incoming golfers. A separate outside function area with BBQ leads off a bespoke meeting room. This place really does have all possible markets covered.
The hotel is very family friendly and if you wanted to introduce children to the game of golf the combination of the academy course, driving range and practice areas and other facilities such as swimming pool, spa, gyms etc are in my opinion a perfect mix.
The Golf Course & Favourite Holes
The course as a whole presents well with the greens in great condition. I was very surprised at the colour of the course given the hot spell of weather. The drainage and irrigation is clearly very good for it to be so lush and green.
3rd Hole, 503 Yards, Par 5
This was the first real opportunity to open the shoulders. The ideal line is to aim for the Abbey bell Tower that dominates the skyline. Tall trees guard the green and its approach and I was very happy to walk away with a bogey after a poor second shot.
4th Hole, 431 Yards, Par 4
The hardest hole on the course requiring an accurate drive to have any chance of a par. Try and follow the line indicated by the fairway marker. The fairway has a double dog-leg and the green is very well protected to its right hand side by the trees and a bunker.
5th Hole, 146 Yards, Par 3
This is a pretty golf hole that boasts an elevated tee ensuring that all hazards are very clearly visible. The tee box is sheltered from any wind so it is difficult to gauge without reference to the flag and trees and foliage around the green.
12th Hole, 517 Yards, Par 5
This is a challenging hole. The right of fairway line off the tee is protected by a bunker. Ensure you take into account the cleverly concealed water hazard that covers the short left approaches to the green. Again this is an interesting green running back to front.
13th Hole, 416 Yards, Par 4
This is stroke index two and it plays as such. This hole has a double dog leg requiring accuracy for success. Check out the verdant and resplendent apple trees that form an integral part of this hole. I have picked lemons and oranges in Spain while golfing but never seen such a display of ripe apples. All of the trees on this course are very well established and form an integral part of its appeal.
14th Hole, 339 Yards, Par 4
A real signature hole with the trees placed centre fairway. It requires accuracy and fine execution to shape the ball around left or right of these trees. Pick the lay-up option off the tee and your second is still blocked visually by the trees. I really liked this hole mainly as I hit my best drive and shaped it left of the tree trouble and was left with only a flick to the green.
16th Hole, 178 Yards, Par 3
This is a good single shot hole requiring accurate judgement of distances as it is up a decent gradient. Try not to go long as a downhill putt is extremely quick and difficult to control.
18th Hole, 265 Yards, Par 4
This is a short but interesting finishing hole. There is a fairway marker post that offers an ideal line off the tee. I selected a 5-iron and literally slapped a smooth shot over it leaving a short pitch into the green. Bunkers patrol short but the entire hole is in view from the panoramic windows of the hotel and dining room and I have to admit to being a bit nervous as I flubbed my approach to the green. This is a short hole but I would guess that a lot of competitive rounds have been concluded by similar tales of woe with poor shot efforts to close off a promising round of golf.
Post Round Thoughts & Conclusion
Tewkesbury Park is an extremely interesting facility as it caters for a multitude of different customer needs. I knew of its recent multi-million pound refurbishment programme but was impressed by a host of small details that made the stay special.
Overall, it's an excellent stay and play venue. The course is well thought out and maintained and I can see it becoming very popular as word of the overall facilities being offered gets out. Tewkesbury offers numerous options for couples, groups, families, foodies and walkers, history buffs. It also maintains superb quality, separate facilities for weddings and business events.
The course is not the most difficult you will face but it offers a fair challenge to most golfers. All greens were well maintained and true, with an even pace. I would be surprised to find many who would be disappointed at the quality of the layout on offer.
It is a perfect venue for a group of discerning golfers to visit for a few days away from home.
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