Feature Review: Carden Park – The Nicklaus course
Feature article from Golfshake.com guest writer Adam Smith
This beautiful resort set in the Cheshire countryside is a must visit for all golfers, even non-golfers as well. It reminded me of a mini Centre Parcs, there is so much to do besides golf.
The golf however is a sublime test set over two very different but two very equal courses in terms of standard. Or so I’ve been told. I am going back to play the Cheshire course very soon and depending who you speak to everyone has their favourite.
I played the Nicklaus course, a very Americanised layout, which is what I like. Undulated fairways and well positioned traps gives you a brilliant 18 holes that will have you wanting more.
From the start when you arrive, even into the clubhouse you can tell that the Nicklaus course is one of De Vere’s flagship courses. No surprise there then, as the Golden Bear himself helped design it and his pictures and all around the clubhouse, also when you have finished it would have been rude not to go and visit Jack’s bar afterwards.
A good two minute walk around the back of the clubhouse will take you to the secluded first tee which is a great opening hole. A dog-leg left par four at 383 yards, position is key. Big hitters can go over the top of the trees, leaving only a short iron into the green.
As usual with De Vere, water traps play a big part. Here on the Nicklaus it is not until the 6th hole when one of the two big lakes comes into play. The other being the signature 17th hole. The 6th is certainly a risk and reward hole. In the summer I’m sure it is drivable across the lake for the big boys, but course management is key, a good tee shot taking you around the lake again will leave you with a short iron in, but still a daunting shot to miss the water.
The 7th hole was one of my favourites, you have two choices off the tee, go to the right of the trees that splits the two fairway’s or go to the left and try for the second bit of fairway that is about 270 yard carry, oh and over a stream that runs all the way down to the green.
Unfortunately when I was there, they were doing a lot of work to the greens, obviously to get them ready for the summer, so I can’t give an accurate report on them, but knowing what De Vere are like and how they pride themselves in having some of the best greens around, I can only imagine what the course would of been like if playing at its full potential. I mean the course was very good but with good greens it has the potential to be a lot more.
The front nine ends with a beautiful par 5 with water again coming into play, but a good birdie opportunity if you find the fairway.
Very important to get off to a good start on the back nine, a couple of tough pars 4’s start you off before the par 3 12th.Three pars to start with and you’ll be very happy.
Long walks from the 14th green to the 15th tee and from the 15th green to the 16th tee has you thinking about the fantastic finishing holes you are about to face. The huge lake that you first see on your drive up to the clubhouse and sits in front of the hotel first comes into play on the 16th. The short par 3 green is three quarters covered in front. Depending on where the pin is accuracy is a must.
As I said earlier the signature 17th is the crowning glory in what is a great course. Very similar to the 6th, the gamble of whether to go for the green must be faced. The 317 yard carry may answer your question from the get go. It isn’t that simple though, two fairway bunkers hug the left hand side and two more are on the opposite side for those who take the big stick and run out of fairway. Get in one of these traps and I advise you to think hard about going for the green.
A long uphill par 5 to finish will take you back up towards the magnificent clubhouse where Jack will be waiting for you.
Ask the Pro
I spoke with the assistant pro to get the low down on the course:
Q: What three qualities do you need to succeed around the Nicklaus course?
A: Accuracy, Distance control and good course management.
Q: Favourite Hole?
Q: Best Score around the Nicklaus.
A: Playing off 13 about 9 over 81.
Q: One last course to play anywhere in t he world, where would it be?
A: S&A Southport and Ainsdale. Fantastic Links course.
Fantastic golfing resort with all the other facilities thrown in. Somewhere defiantly to take the family if the opportunity arose. Apart from staying in the hotel, Carden Park offer lodges as well that overlooks some of the course. They would be great in the summer with their little balconies.
Having two courses is the added bonus here, a one night stay playing two rounds start from as little as £99 per person, bed and breakfast. Visit Golfbreaks.com for more information.
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