The Abbey Hotel Golf Club Feature Review

By: Melvyn Davies | Thu 02 Jul 2020 | Comments


Review by Golfshake Ambassador Mel Davies


The Abbey Hotel Golf Club has been enhanced through substantial investment over recent years including fairway drainage, course reconfiguration, a new fleet of lithium battery buggies as well as a two-storey driving range.

Featuring a 100-bedroom hotel, The Abbey is extremely popular with those seeking golf breaks, society and corporate days, but membership is also now thriving.

Although COVID-19 has provided a significant challenge, Head Professional Rob Davies has been proactive on social media (particularly Instagram) in an effort to attract more younger members. This has truly paid off with a fantastic influx of under 35s becoming members since reopening.

Rob explained: "I saw an opportunity on Instagram to engage with the huge golf community and was delighted when Dan Gleeson from the popular channel @farfrompargolf agreed to join the club. With his support and social media skills we set up the @theabbeygolfcourse page which is now also fast gaining a big following helping to attract more and more new members as well as visitor rounds. Our full membership prices are great value, but we’ve also joined the PlayMoreGolf flexible membership network which suits more off-peak play, so we really have all bases covered.

“Although these are difficult times for the hospitality industry, golf is definitely seeing a spike in popularity and we’re already well booked for golf breaks in September. We do have availability for breaks in July and August (which are great value!). The hotel has worked hard to ensure all safety measures are in place so we’re looking forward to welcoming our guests."

The championship standard par 72 parkland course, designed by leading golf course architect Donald Steel, has matured into one of the best golf courses in the Midlands. There is also a putting green, pro shop and custom fit centre with TrackMan technology.

Pre-Round Thoughts

My last visit here was around a decade ago, but I did come regularly when I first took the game up many years ago, so I was excited to revisit one of my favourite courses again, especially after hearing that changes had been made. I was greeted by a very friendly welcome from Rob Davies. Unfortunately, due to COVID, I was unable to look at some of the facilities, but I could still see that this was a busy, modern venue that doesn't stand still. The practice putting green was a very good size which was great under the current social distancing measures. The walk to the first tee is great on the eye as the well-maintained gardens with water raise the expectations for what awaits.

Front 9 Overview

The front 9 starts with a great par 4 which is all about the tee shot as the hole dog-legs at 90 degrees to the right, a par here is a great start to your round. You then take a walk through the attractive housing estate with some wonderful properties making the walk a pleasurable one as you look at a great array of houses situated within the course. The 2nd is one of the "new" holes which is a great addition and a tough par 3 with bunkers front, left and behind with water to the right, finding the green here is a must.

Next up are two tough par 4s followed by the only par 5 on the front 9. Like the 1st you need to get a good tee shot away to set you up on these holes. The second par 3 is next up (6th) and again this is a great short hole with bunkers, water and a stream awaiting any mishit tee shots. The 7th, 8th and 9th are all par 4s and can all be birdie chances if you avoid the well-placed bunkers on the fairways and by the greens. As I found the front 9 can really chew you up if you don't put the ball in the right place off the tee or hit decent approach shots.

Back 9 Overview

The back 9 starts with a tough par 3 with water short and left, plus a bunker is waiting ready for any tee shot "bailed out" right away from the water. The next three then go par 5, par 4 then the final of the three par 5s. Good well placed tee shots are the order of the day to enable you to score well on these as anything off-line will end up in trees or at best blocked out.

The 14th is a great par 4 that meanders to the left, trees and water await the aggressive tee shot trying to cut the corner, and the further right makes the hole longer with a well-placed bunker catching the "bailed out" tee shot. Holes like this at 380 yards show why length isn't needed to be tough, a two-tiered green with a bunker short right make this in my eyes a fantastic par 4.

The 15th is the second "new" hole and again at 348 yards shows length isn't required to make a difficult hole! A long iron or fairway wood to the corner of the dog-leg avoiding the bunkers left and right leaves a short iron over the ditch to a small green with a bunker short/right. The 16th and 17th are par 4s which require a well-placed tee shot to enable a clear look at well protected greens.

The 18th in my eyes is the "Signature Hole" at The Abbey. Only 280 yards but slightly uphill, very tight with bunkers and trees to the left and OOB, bunkers and water right...Oh, and there is a ditch across the fairway at around 200 yards! With OOB just beyond the green, adding to the pressure is a balcony on the hotel which tests your ability to cope under the watchful eyes of fellow golfers.

Post-Round Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed my first return to The Abbey and I wasn't disappointed by what was on offer. The course was in great condition, especially as we had not long been back from lockdown and I know they aren't still running on full complement of green staff.

The course has a great mix of holes that can challenge the best but also offer up the chance to play for all levels of golfer. The back 9 is my personal favourite loop but the whole layout really does tick all boxes for me when I'm looking at playing a course.

Unfortunately, due to the current restrictions we were unable to sample the food or drinks, but I do know they offer up great options in both (some of my friends regularly visit here to play).

Verdict

The bunkers overall looked and played great (no rakes out at present due to COVID). Some of the tees were a tad patchy, but you could see work was taking place to rectify this. The fairways were green and lush (when I found them) and the greens were as good as you'll find, a pure roll and a very good speed which was matched by the speed on the practice green (not all courses manage this).

Overall Rating - 8

Course (Conditions) - 8

Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9

Course (Green Condition) - 10

Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 9

Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 10

Practice Facilities - 9

Friendliness/Hospitality - 10

Pace of Play - 8

Value for Money - 10


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