Cavendish Golf Club Feature Review

By: Rob Cross | Wed 07 Aug 2019 | Comments


Review by Golfshake Ambassador Rob Cross, 7 Handicap, July 2019


“Inspiration for Augusta” is quite a quote in the world of golf. Cavendish Golf Club in Derbyshire is regarded as just that. Opened in 1925 and designed by the world renowned Dr Alister MacKenzie with undulating fairways, sloping greens and well thought out hazard placements – it’s said that (and a lovely article at the club - prove it!) certain holes mirror those at Augusta National.

Part of Golfshake’s “The Best Alister MacKenzie Courses in the UK and Ireland" and Highly Recommended by our members, where 100% of golfers who played would return! One of the top-rated courses in Derbyshire, a thriving membership and great value, it really is well worth a visit.

Pre-Round Thoughts

Any course which has strong links with the architect who created Augusta National HAS to be looked forward to. Personally, I’m not hugely into golf history or even course design but I was really looking forward to playing Cavendish. On paper it looks very short but after discussions with No 1 Golfshake Ambassador (who joined me for this review) Andy Picken – it became clear that this course was going to be a challenge. He was extremely positive about the layout and is up there with one of his favourites and he has played A LOT of courses.

AP indicated that MacKenzie designs allow for risk and reward, but also allow players to be cautious and plot their way around. I was expecting the course to be tight, short with very tricky greens.

We were welcomed warmly by Steve (Cavendish GC member) whose local knowledge was both welcome and accurate, the putting green was large and well placed, and I noted a few nets close to the pro shop for a few swings if needed. A practice area which has nine holes is well used and offers the opportunity for juniors and members to warm up/practice.

Front 9 Overview

Cavendish is a par 68, measuring 5,721 off the white tees; which looks “different” to traditional courses. Twelve par fours, five par threes and only one par five differs from those which are around par 72 with an even split of three, four and five par holes.

Cavendish begins with a par four, 354 yards fairly straight with an undulating green protected by greenside bunkers on the right. Blind off the tee but a generous landing area. Pin placement dictates how tough the hole is, a narrow approach to the green. With bunkers and a sloping left to right green.

The 2nd and 3rd are short par fours, the 2nd being 308 yards. The green is very narrow with a drop off at the front, and a wall at the back! A difficult approach and another undulating green. The 3rd hole gives the player an opportunity to drive the green from an elevated tee (the first of many) but accuracy is key as the fairway slopes hugely right to left with bunkers waiting, for anything too far left. The best option maybe to hit a mid-iron and try to wedge it close, but anything long to the sloping green is in danger of going off the green and down the path to the 4th!

The starting holes are a good introduction to the rest of the course, you can take driver and really shorten your approach or can hit iron and put the focus on mid iron accuracy.

Stroke Index 1, the 5th tee shot isn’t “blind” as such, but if you go right then you can’t see the stream which runs alongside the fairway. Another raised green and at 420 yards one of the longest on the course. The 6th tee allows for stunning views from the tee across the hills of Derbyshire.

The front nine ends with a par three. 140 yards from an elevated tee! Three bunkers and a big slope on the green make club choice crucial as anything above the hole leaves a testing putt.

Back 9 Overview

The 10th and 11th are a strong start to the back nine. The 10th hole is the second longest par four (422 yards) on the course and dog-legs right to left. The further left you go off the tee the shorter your approach to the green, but a huge valley awaits if you are short. Your approach is one of the toughest shots on the course. A stream runs across the front of the green (around 15 yards short) and bunkers surround the green, depending on your tee shot you may have 200 yards to the green. A lot of members play this as a par five.

The 11th (403 yards) is blind off the tee but sweeps down and to the left from the fairway. Again, over a stream to a green sloping heavily from left to right, any approach long and left is punished.

The only par five at Cavendish, the 14th measures just under 500 yards and is a rolling dog-leg right to left. The player can cut the corner off, but don’t be greedy as anything short and/or left will be in the adjacent farmer’s field (who apparently takes great pleasure in watching golfers hit into his field!). As the hole sweeps left to a raised green, the field wall runs down the left side of the hole. A good tee shot really does offer a good birdie opportunity.

As the round ends, the holes in towards the clubhouse are a great test. The 15th is a tricky par three from a raised tee. The green slopes heavily from back to front, anything long is doomed.

The 16th is a blind tee shot uphill. Keeping left of the marker post offers the best view of the green which is heavily downhill. The approach is key; anything short will kick through the green and may end up off the green! 17th – a par three is a mid to long iron, with a green that is like an upturned saucer.

Cavendish ends with maybe the best hole on the course, from (yes, another) an elevated tee the player cannot see the green, trees on the right block this, pushing the player to hit the ball left, with the complication of a carry off the tee and a hazard waiting. The fairway slopes left to right heavily, with “5 iron ditch” running across the fairway, where balls gather and leave the player with a blind approach of an approximate five iron yardage. Before the green the fairways falls away, then allows the green to be elevated. Good bunkering and the clubhouse wall left of the green provide an intimidating final iron shot with another sloping green to finish.

Hole Highlights

Undulations throughout the course, especially the elevated tees on the 6th/15th with stunning views across Derbyshire, the course provides lots of opportunity to view the countryside, but this shared tee box is the best opportunity.

The greens were super tricky. Although slower than usual on the day, I can imagine on days were the speed is up they would be a nightmare and extremely punishing. Real undulations and slopes, but also very subtle breaks especially close to the holes I found. A course of this length needs protection and the greens definitely accomplish this.

Post-Round Thoughts

The course was in great condition throughout; springy fairways are always a sign of quality in my opinion. The greens were consistent in speed and rolling true.

I played well, as mentioned earlier the course gives you options off the tee and I very much attacked every hole where possible. A good driving day allowed me to shoot 73 (+5), I struggled to actually hole putts of distance just due to how tough they were. On another day I can see that score being much worse if you have an off day from the tee!

We visited the clubhouse, which has recently been taken over by a local company who are very much driving huge improvements. The club focuses on the output from the kitchen, where families and (non) golfers visit to sample the menu. Whilst there, we saw many happy faces with plates piled high from the Sunday Carvery!

Verdict

This course is NOT SHORT! On paper, yes, but the way the course is designed it just didn’t feel that way. This course is clever, with impressive undulations and great bunkering – I don’t ever recall having a flat lie throughout the full round.

I have to say I enjoyed the links back to Augusta and the history the club has; everyone was friendly and it has a really good atmosphere both on the course and in the clubhouse.

This has to be the one of the best value for money courses in the UK, under £40 for visitors (all times), tee times available at weekends and during the week as well. This course is a treat, and a challenge which would be different every time. For that price it is such good value that multiple visits are well within budget.

As a family, we visit Derbyshire frequently (two or three times a year) and have done for numerous years. I wish I’d played Cavendish GC years ago, as for certain I would visit every time we headed up to this area. 100% I will be playing again, hopefully soon!

Overall Rating - 9

Course (Conditions) - 9

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9

Course (Green Condition) - 9

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8

Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9

Practice Facilities - 9

Friendliness/Hospitality - 9

Pace of Play - 10

Value for Money - 10


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