Longcliffe Golf Club Feature Review

By: Andrew Picken | Thu 09 Jul 2020 | Comments


Review by Golfshake Ambassador Andy Picken


Longcliffe Golf Club celebrated its centenary in 2006 and has been rated highly for many years. A members' club of the highest order but also welcoming to the visitor and society golfer. It is situated some 10 minutes from junction 23 of the M1, so is easily accessible for any Midlands-based golfer.

It is situated in the heart of the ancient Charnwood Forest. There are a number of rocky outcrops that are sculptured into interesting course features. I would describe it as a mixture of heathland and parkland.

Many fairways are undulating, and the quality of the turf encourages accurate shot making. It is a mature tree lined golf course with narrow fairways and undulating greens offering defence to overly attacking play. Clever use of dog-legs and shaping also provides a number of risk/reward opportunities for those possessing a game of sufficient length.

100% of our Golfshake reviewers consider this to be a venue worthy of a return visit.

History & Heritage

Created in 1906 by Tom Williamson who was a well-known and respected architect and professional based at Hollinwell, Nottinghamshire. His brother became the club's first professional and both assisted in the course construction. The first 9 holes were in play within six months. The club was ready to hold a PGA Championship in 1914 but the war interrupted, and the event was replaced with a fixture designed to add donations to the Prince of Wales fund.

Malcom Gregson, Ryder Cup player, began his life in golf at Longcliffe cycling as a junior member to the venue and playing 45 holes in day.

The old 15th hole, a par 3, has a unique history given that in a match play event the hole was halved by both competitors registering a hole in one at the same time!

Front 9 Overview

Unusually the 1st hole is a par 3, 180 yards, stroke index 11, featuring a well bunkered double tier green that foreshortens the hole visually from the tee. This provides an interesting opening challenge to the visiting golfer.

The 3rd hole is a relatively short par 4 at 382 yards. It still offers an excellent challenge. From the tee box the fairway appears wide but is covered by heavy rough on either side. Straight shots are the requirement as the green is bunkered left and right.

This is followed by the 4th, a challenging par 5 measuring 523 yards. Played down a narrow fairway that slopes heavily from left to right. You will need to shape a draw to hold this fairway as anything straight will reach the rough. The rough throughout this course is penal, cultivated and well placed. It offers a real level of protection across the entire course. However, if the draw is too much then your sight lines to the green are obstructed as the fairway dog-legs left. I think this is an excellently laid out golf hole.

Visually the short par 3, the 5th appears straightforward but it is well guarded by the bunkers protecting from any shot played short. A rocky outcrop focuses the eye visually from the tee. Par is earnt here.

The 6th plays at 275 yards par 4 and is a great risk or reward golf hole. A narrow fairway slopes left to right and dog-legs slightly up to an elevated green that is bunkered on both sides. Visually, this is a stunning golf hole framed by silver birch, ferns, and rhododendrons.

Another hole of note is the 8th. 568 yards par 5 played from a gloriously elevated tee box affording fantastic views across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. It is a straight hole running downhill to a large flat green bunkered on both sides. It is called Long Tom. A memorable hole, wonderfully presented.

Back 9 Overview

The back nine opens with a gentle dog-leg to start the homeward journey. The drive needs to be left fairway to avoid the spinney of trees to the right. Too far left and your shot will find thickets. Approach shots are played to a long narrow green and I am told in hard, summer conditions many balls are overplayed into this green.

I enjoyed the 13th, played at 405 yards, par 4. Out of bounds runs the entire left side of this hole from tee to green. An oak tree placed to the right gives the impression of an even tighter tee shot placing pressure on a decent drive. Accidentally cut this shot and you are bringing another spinney of silver birch into play.

Another standout hole was the 14th played at 316 yards. A short par 4 but still a genuine challenge requiring well executed shots but offering many options to all levels of skill.

Visually a pond dominates the view from the tee to this acutely angled left to right dog-leg hole. Risk has to be considered when selecting tee box options. To achieve success a shot will have to be high enough to clear some very mature trees. A ditch that cannot be seen from the tee adds further protection against a timid tee shot over the trees. Don’t forget to give the bell a ring as you depart the green to allow the next golfer the chance to take on the adventurous options!

The 15th is a stunning par 3 and a relatively recent addition to the course in 1986. An elevated tee box offers stunning views over the course as a whole. The green is protected left by a beautiful pond and intimidating bunkering right. I view this as a signature golf hole, and it is memorable in its style and form.

The 17th is a par 5 of 495 yards. It is protected by out of bounds its entire length left. Forget the shaped shots, this simply needs a decent straight drive to have the chance of an approach into a sizeable green protected by bunkers on both sides.

The closing hole is directly back towards the clubhouse. At 339 yards it offers a real chance of reward for those capable of carrying fairway bunkers and a ditch. Bunkers have recently been added to prevent the long hitter having a free ride. The green is large with bunkers either side to conclude the round.

Post-Round Thoughts

This was a thoroughly enjoyable round of golf on an excellent course. Its lack of length is more than accommodated by its intricacies and difficulties if a shot strays off-line.

Conclusion

Longcliffe represents challenge to all levels of golfer from the averagely talented golfer like me to the scratch golfer who see its length on the card and tries to dominate from the tee.

A university tournament held last year had players of scratch or better throughout the field. On the practice day all took drivers or woods. During the competition itself those who succeeded elected to choose shorter but more accurate clubs as they had a new respect for the clever, tantalising layout before them.

This is a course that ensures the player needs to make a lot of decisions off the tee. The design includes smart uses of elevation, camber, and choice of lines for the tee shot. It allows for aggressive risk taking but also rewards the more conservative approach. If you are able to shape the ball both ways, it is a distinct advantage at Longcliffe.

We were not able to enjoy the clubhouse during our visit due to social distancing measures, but many previous reviews score this element highly. Perhaps this may be a reason to return in the future. I would happily do so. Longcliffe is a very enjoyable, challenging golf course.


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Longcliffe Golf Club
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