Grange Park Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Richard Moore
What joy to play such a lovely parkland course with such friendly members.
I took the time to assess the website and could tell this would be a pleasant game of golf, but I was not prepared for how good it actually was.
Even though I originate from the North West, I have never been to St Helens. So, my initial mental images were of heavy industries and chemical works. In contrast, Grange Park Golf Club is set in a rural location, with fine houses in the neighbourhood as you drive in. It is situated just seven minutes from the M57 (past Knowsley Safari Park) and just 20 minutes from the M6/M62 intersection - so very accessible.
The quality of the golf course was excellent. Greens and tees immaculate. The fairways were really firm and nice views throughout. The greens ran perfectly (one member warned of the par 3 greens being very deceptive). They were all totally unblemished. I wish that I played these greens every week.
Everyone I met was extremely friendly on and off the course. The course was well sign-posted throughout and even the detail of having the club’s emblem on all the red, yellow and white tee markers is such a nice touch. The course is of a very high standard.
Grange Park has a good-sized grass practice area just 300 yards from the clubhouse. The area has five teeing areas and crosses the 10th fairway - so you need to be mindful of golfers playing through (and to listen out for a fore(!) off the 10th tee if someone hooks their drive badly). There is also a nice short game practice area for chipping and bunker practice located a bit further over on the left of the 11th fairway, which is probably a four or five minute walk from the clubhouse.
I did not use the restaurant, but peering through the windows I could see the time-honoured photos of all the past captains adorned by their red jackets. After all, this club dates back to 1891, and even the original nine holes are all still in play. So this club has some real history!
Another nice touch is the sun deck/balcony for about a dozen people to sit and enjoy the sun with views over 18th green. There is also a nice conservatory on the back of the clubhouse for about a dozen folks overlooking the first tee.
The only negative I can think of is that the pro shop is within a large metal hut with corrugated iron roof. Not particularly attractive but no one judges a club on such things, after all it was extremely well stocked with really friendly and helpful staff.
After a very friendly welcome from John Jackson, the secretary and general manager, I was off to the first tee.
Front 9 Overview
The 1st is a really nice opener with a wide-open fairway with many different types of trees lining it. It is very picturesque and welcoming, begging you to smash driver at a mere 335 yards off the yellow tees. It is a tame start, especially as the only menace is a fairway bunker at 250 yards with a low lip leaving a wedge to the green even if you found the sand. I wish more courses had such a benign start. But don’t be fooled as the 1st green has deceptive slopes and runs fast.
One of the first things to strike me was how firm the fairways are. The course drains well, I was told, especially compared to other local courses as much of it is built on sandstone. Grange Park has also done a lot of drainage work this year to improve it further and with even more planned over the next couple of years - this is surely an all-year round golf course.
The 2nd hole provides another wide-open fairway daring you to smash driver with the temptation of a blind fairway which runs down to the hole. I can imagine some of the longer hitters reaching the green in the summer with a few favourable bounces. I really liked the challenge of the approach to the 2nd green which is in a bowl and the surface slopes away from you making it tricky to get close to the flag.
Then there is a walk to the 3rd, which provides an attractive tee shot all the way downhill through a tighter tree lined fairway. This also provides nice views of some holes to come too. Not an easy green as it is elevated (like a few on this course) by about four or five feet providing interesting challenges for those hitting long and needing to rely on their short game to get back to the putting surface.
What follows is a pleasant walk over bridges and ponds to the 4th which is a long par 3 at 202 yards. What struck me here was how tranquil it is. No traffic noises. Just the sound of birds and ducks. Beautiful part of the course.
Approaching the 4th green, I was aware of the 5th tee with shots whistling past. It’s a little tight in this area. Likewise, the 5th tee is in range of a slice off the 3rd. So just beware.
The 5th is a short par 5 downhill (hence SI 18) but don’t be fooled. A lovely looking, well positioned pond sits on right side of green waiting for any leaked approach shots!
(On the 6th tee just beware of people putting just 40 yards away to your right on the 13th green).
So, where the 5th is straight-forward and all in front of you, the 6th is a different matter - doglegging blind to right. Four yards shorter and with an SI of 4, I knew something must be up especially as the group in front all laid-up due to a hazard on the right for the sliced drive. That’s not all, the fairway is bisected by a ditch 130 yards from the green - so extra care is needed for your second shot. This is a real ‘thinking hole!’ And, with a tree in the middle of the ditch this forces you to choose which side to lay up on. So, there is no idle lay-up here. There are no bunkers around this elevated green. It’s a totally unique hole. Never before have I parred a three shoter taking 4 iron, 8 iron, 6 iron!
There are really nice views back down 6th fairway and looking down the 13th from this point.
The 7th doglegs slowly to the right uphill. It is SI 8 owing to the hazards which are not obvious, and I found both! Left off the tee is the same pool you walk over from the 3rd green to the 4th tee. Well hidden. Then the approach to the elevated green on the right has a ditch running along. It’s a terrific hole!
The 8th is a lovely uphill par 3. Deceptively sloping green right to left. Lovely scenes of the golf course (even the cow field down by the 15th ) just to show that it is more rural than industrial countryside here! It is so peaceful.
Then follows a nice walk-through tree to the 9th, which brings you back to the clubhouse alongside the 1st fairway. The 9th green is in a hollow and finishes in front of the clubhouse.
Back 9 Overview
The 10th doglegs hard left. Just beware the practice area to the left if you hook it. It’s a nice hole and features a green framed by hillocks (or moguls if you are a skier) adding to the challenge if you miss the green.
The 11th is the start of two long holes. This is a 443-yard dogleg left with a bunker at the apex. Only one greenside bunker on the left. A great hole along the boundary of the course.
Then after a short walk back through the woods, you are on the 12th. At SI 1 with fairway sloping off down to the right, it’s a brute at 452 yards. The green is just a few yards short of the 13th tee which I imagine causes some shouts of fore!
The 13th tee is the signature hole for me. A beautiful hole with great vistas and a downhill par 5 at 489 yards (beware the pond in reach of your drive if you are a slicer).
There is a great bench stationed beside the 14th tee. Positioned nicely facing the sun and looking back over the par 5 5th green. What a spot to take in the course. The 14th is a lovely par 3 at 170 yards up to an elevated green.
The 15th is the fourth par 5 comfortably under 500 yards. After a wide-open tee shot I walked up the fairway wondering how can it be SI 5? What hell awaits? There’s a ditch and OOB all the way up the left then the fairway pinches into a well-guarded green with some big bunkers waiting! Close hedges form the course boundary here so you can’t leak your approach. It brought memories of St Enodoc in Cornwall on its 4th hole. Then it offers a nice two-tiered green. A great hole!
Then a longish walk to the 16th (which sits next to the big downhill sloping 2nd hole) where another wonderful bench awaits you facing the sun before an uphill par 3 16th at 145 yards.
The 17th is a good fun hole with a blind dogleg left and then an approach downhill to a nice green, while finally, the 18th is a straightforward par 4 back to the clubhouse.
There are so many nice touches to this course. Several unique holes, and everything was to a high standard.
Testament to the sand quality in the bunkers (I was lucky to only find one bunker all day) was that I only found one stone on the greens all day!
Another thing I liked was there was no general public walking or dog walkers which is nice not to have that distraction!
I would return to Grange Park anytime. Enjoyed it start to finish. Well done to the team there.
Little surprise that it is hosting the England Golf Senior Men’s County Finals in October 2021. High praise richly deserved!
Overall Rating - 9
Course (Conditions) - 9
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 9
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 8
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 8
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 9
Value for Money - 9
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|Grange Park (St Helens) Golf Club
from 39 reviews