Feature Review - Stockwood Vale
We sent Golfshaker and 7 handicapper Gavin Hirst to play and review the highly popular Stockwood Vale Golf Club. This is his feature review of the Gloucestershire Course:
Stockwood Vale is a public pay and play course located around 20 minutes outside of Bath. It is a fairly hilly course and would be described as parkland. It has some tough and challenging but visually striking holes due to the elevation of the course which sees you hitting down onto greens and fairways.
The course and club itself was extremely welcoming and there are some nice practice facilities including driving range, chipping ground and putting green.
We went on one of the hottest days of the year and it was clear that the fairways had been effected by the heat as they were scorched. The pro in the shop explained to us that although the course looked hard hit, the greens were running very well and we would enjoy ourselves. First impressions were of a very friendly club and a nice relaxed attitude.
We went on the range prior to the round and I was impressed with the facilities. There were clear markers and good chipping flags and nets to aim for. The putting green was lush and fast and we hoped the course would be the same once we got out there. It was clear that the fairways would be firm and bouncy but it was difficult to know about the greens.
The course is made up of some lovely and challenging Par 3s. The first one of note is the 153 yard 4th which plays from a high elevated tee to a domed green way below. It has a lovely visual appearance and created some interesting discussions about club selection. We all went with wedge and this was there or thereabouts the right club for our mixed ability group.
The 185 yard 12th is the other highlight in terms of par 3s. On this day, the pin was cut right over the right hand bunker and it took a great 5 iron for me to pitch on. There was nothing for pulling left and I suspect very little for right and it was nice to get a bit of yardage to a par 3 as the other 3 were relatively short.
The Par 4s on the course are all relatively short - in fact I think it was the 6th or 7th hole before I pulled anything more than an 8 iron out of my bag. The course requires managing rather than just being able to smack a driver every time. A highlight was the 460 yard 11th which plays as stroke index 1. A very accurate tee shot is required which does not suit someone with a draw as it doglegs to the right with bunkers right on the dogleg on the left of the fairway. There is out of bounds all the way up the left fairly close to the edge of the fairway so it is sure to prove a challenge for all.
The highlight in terms of par 4s is the 330 yard 13th which again is played from an elevated tee onto a steep sloping fairway and up to an elevated green. Picking your club off the tee can be tricky.I opted for 5 iron and safely found the short stuff, leaving only a SW up the hill. For interests sake, I hit another with the driver to see if I could reach the green as it looked drivable and came up about 10 yards short so it is definitely worth a go.
The 2 par 5s on the course offer different challenges. Because the fairways were so dry and bouncy, the 506 yard 7th definitely became reachable in 2, however with strategically positioned tress guarding the fairway, the drive is a narrow one and probably more sensible to play a 3 iron followed by an 8 and then a SW on to the green.
The second of the par 5s is the 534 yard 10th which is not that accessible in 2 and will pose problems for the inaccurate drive
The signature holes on the course are without doubt the two holes that play up and down the valley - the par 3 4th and the par 4 13th. Both are extremely picturesque whilst still posing a challenge in terms of clubbing and accuracy.
Post round thoughts
Overall I was extremely impressed with the course and set up. Although the fairways were extremely bare, the greens were in fantastic condition and very receptive to shots from all distances. The bunkers were well kept and overall the course was a pleasure to play.
We received a very friendly welcome both before and after and it was nice to sit and watch the end of the Open in the club afterwards. The club clearly also support junior development as there was a tournament out just before us which was nice to see. We had a nice pint in the clubhouse afterwards and there was a nice terrace overlooking the first tee.
The Bottom line
Overall, for a pay and play course with a very relaxed dress code, this was a challenging course which makes it a good day out no matter your handicap. Although fairly short ( I hit driver maybe 3 or 4 times), the layout proved challenging and the hills certainly take it out of you. I would imagine that the fairways are usually a lot greener but due to the dry spell things had burnt off a bit.
I would definitely recommend the course if you are in the area - it cost us £24 on a Sunday afternoon which I felt was just about value for money. If you can book through teeofftimes or have a 2-for-1 voucher, this will definitely be value for money.
Gavin's Rating 8/10
For more information please visit the Stockwood Vale website - Click Here