QHotels Oulton Hall Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Matt Holbrook
Part of that stable alongside other resorts like Slaley Hall, Forest Pines and Belton Woods, Oulton Hall is another great parkland venue which plays host to 27 holes laid out in three different loops of nine holes offering a challenging test regardless of the routing you decide to take.
Even with a good number of members, the venue is very attractive for stay and play golfers given the facilities on-site that take advantage of the 300 acre property built around the historic Oulton Hall that dates from the 18th century.
Visitors can enjoy spacious rooms, great dining options (in both the hotel and The Claret Jug Spike Bar), in addition to a spa and health club, meaning that Oulton Hall will tick most boxes with ease.
On top of the 27 holes of golf, Oulton Hall also possesses a new state of the art driving range where each bay has a TrackMan launch monitor where PGA pros are offering lessons and custom fitting on the latest and greatest golf equipment.
The professional shop, located at the golf clubhouse, is very well stocked - for both visitors and members - whether it’s the latest equipment, apparel or consumables snacks and drinks. The helpful team can also point you in the direction of the driving range and chipping putting green along with the 1st tee for each loop.
Holes 1-9 and 10-18 combine to make The Calverley Course, and holes 19-27 are known as The Hall, although there is not a weaker loop, they can be mixed and played in any order and are rated accordingly.
Holes 1 - 9
I really enjoyed the opening hole - I felt it displayed a lot of what this loop is about. A dogleg from right to left with a fairway bunker and some trees on the right, the landing spot seems to tighten the further down you go. A shot short of the bunkers seems the best option but that will leave a much longer second.
If you are able to negotiate the tricky tee shot then an approach awaits into a green that is surrounded by trees and bunker awaits.
After the short par 3 2nd, things really heat up on the 3rd and 4th.
The 3rd doglegs very quickly off the tee from right to left, as with the 1st, there is a bunker well placed on the right. For someone that hits a draw this is ideal, but you will still need to turn it quickly to avoid the trees on the left-hand side - which you might be tempted to go over the top - but it will be completely blind.
At over 400 yards the second shot is also very testing into a long and narrow green which again is very well bunkered.
The 4th runs adjacent to the 3rd in the opposite direction and whilst it has less danger from the tee, it is slightly longer meaning a lengthier approach shot over a ditch and bunkers short of the green may leave some considering the lay-up.
A great par 5 comes at the 7th, playing down from the tee from right to left, the fairway cuts in from the left leaving you feeling like you are aiming away from the green. I can testify for not trying to shorten the hole with a more direct route as between the bunkers on the left the rough is thick means going for it in two is definitely out of the question - although the green does sit in a bowl of sorts meaning there is a good chance of chasing something on towards the green.
A short par 4 ends this loop, with the green blind from the tee as the fairway falls from the tee. The green actually sits a little further right than you think but it’s a great opportunity at 300 yards - but playing shorter - to get close and end this nine with a birdie three.
Holes 10 - 18
The way the 10th falls away from the tee, then back up towards the green, it looks like it’s a lot longer than it plays, the end of the fairway and rough on the right is well in play as you head towards the green which sits slightly off to the left of the hole.
The only par 5 on this loop comes at the 12th - by now if you haven’t noticed a theme with doglegs then you are missing something - a well hit fade will still need to be precise, some may decide to hit a 3-wood and make it a three-shotter.
The fairway drops away and back up towards the clubhouse into another narrow green that would be difficult to hit in two anyway so leaving a wedge in might be the best way forward.
The longest par 3 comes at the 14th. Over 200 yards into a fairly small green that sits surrounded by the trees making it feel even smaller than it is. Then you come to the delights of the 15th, a short par 4 that probably plays close to 280 yards where taking on the green really isn’t the best option.
As you hit from the tee, the fairway takes a sudden drop, and again before the green, but the fairway pinches in with trees becoming serious obstacles that line the fairway and surround the putting surface.
After a couple of mid-range par 4s, the 18th is another hole that moves from right to left again, playing over 400 yards and is a tough end to what I thought was the toughest nine-hole loop.
Holes 19 - 27
The most 'open' loop of the three, meaning you also get some of the best scenic views - in particular over the surrounding areas and around Oulton Hall itself.
A heads up on the 19th - there is a large tree in the distance that you might think is on in the middle of the fairway, but it’s in fact way over on the left-hand side of the fairway, so aim further right than you think and you will leave yourself a nice wedge in.
Hole 20 is the first of back-to-back par 5s. They both play down from an elevated tee and whilst the 20th plays up to the green the 21st doesn’t.
From the tee on the 20th, you can hit driver, but longer hitter needs to be aware of the rough that pinches in making the fairway narrow towards the end and the ditch that run through too.
After playing down from the tee on the 21st, the approach into the green is slightly blocked out - the green sits on an upside-down bowl positioned right in front of the bar in the main hall itself - so a birdie may well be met with a good round of applause.
The 24th is a cracking hole. I love everything about it from the view from the tee, the way the hole drops away from the water short of the pond and the fairway bunkers that are waiting for any errant tee shot.
It’s not massive in length, 385 from the white tee, but the sensible players will hit an iron from the tee for position, the second shot plays over the water to the green and there is a fair amount of room over the pond, meaning even if you find the fairway bunkers that litter the left-hand side, you are still tempted into taking on the water. Lots of fun.
The 27 holes finish with a mid-range par 3 where the green moves diagonally from front left to back right meaning distance judgement is vital if you want to finish up with a chance for a birdie.
Upon reflection, I felt it seemed like there were lots of dogleg holes, maybe because some were a lot more severe than others. Also, when you are playing 27 holes there is naturally going to be more, but each one gets you thinking slightly different than the one before which is testament to good course design.
You may play some of the holes slightly differently if you were to play them again, which again is just good golf course design in my opinion. There are lots of places where you can lose balls, but there is also ample opportunity to really open your shoulders and let rip.
Mixing up the holes to make a composite 18 is a great idea as holes 1-18 are fairly tree-lined whereas 19-27 felt a bit more open, so a combination would always be a great option, but with some great stay and play packages you will get the chance to play them all, I’m sure.
The greens were great, varied in size giving you some opportunity to test your putting credentials and the bunkers are well placed meaning you will find some along the way for sure.
I think high and low handicappers can really enjoy what Oulton Hall has to offer. They are trying to make constant improvements to the course, I make no secret when I visit a venue if this is happening, I played two holes off a mat - but this is only due to improvements being made which I would never knock a golf club/course for doing. It didn’t take away from the enjoyment of the round for me.
Overall, Oulton Hall is a great venue to stay and play or grab a round if working in or visiting the area. It will provide you with a good fun test with some scenic views and a great spot to stop and eat or drink after you have finished your game as it's definitely another golfing venue for the guys at QHotels Collection to shout about.
Overall Rating - 8
Course (Conditions) - 8
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 8
Course (Green Condition) - 8
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 7
Club Facilities & Clubhouse - 9
Practice Facilities - 8
Friendliness/Hospitality - 9
Pace of Play - 9
Value For Money - 8
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|QHotels Oulton Hall Golf Club
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