Feature review Kedleston Park Golf Club
Feature Review by Owen Davies
Nestled in the rolling countryside on the edge of Derby is Kedleston Park Golf Club, noted as one of the finest in the Midlands for many years. I recently paid a visit to find out for myself just why the course has a great reputation amongst golfers in the region.
Kedleston Golf Club was formed in 1946 having been born out of Markeaton Golf Club which was forced to close in 1938 due to the expansion of Derby, following the Second World War a new club was formed by the members of Markeaton and so, renowned course architect James Braid was employed by the club to lay out 18 holes in the shadow of Kedleston Hall.
When you arrive at Kedleston you find yourself walking around to the front of the clubhouse to be met by a panoramic view of a beautifully manicured course with mature woodland dominating the areas in between the fairways. It is well worth visiting the clubhouse bar and sitting with a drink and enjoying the view before taking on the challenge ahead.
The front nine
Teeing off above and to the right of the club house you face a gently downhill sloping Par 5. As with many holes on the course, caution is required from the tee with bunkers awaiting errant tee shots on either side of the fairway at driving distance. It is however a start that eases you into the round with a inviting second or third shot to a green that sits below the fairway.
The second is a sweeping uphill dogleg to the left with accuracy a must from the tee and a killer touch required on a heavily sloping green.
As you continue on the front nine it becomes apparent that every hole is set majestically within the landscape utilising the rolling countryside and mature wooded areas. As I have already mentioned accuracy of the tee continues to be important none more so than on the long Par 4 6th.
The hole doglegs gently around a river that separates the course from the grounds of Kedleston Hall. The Hall itself sits grandly on a hill above the course. Playing your tee shot down the left side gives you a chance of finding the green with the second and making a rewarding par.
The next, the par 3 7th is no less stunning with a tee shot all the way over a huge pond to a back to front sloping green, there is no room for error.
The front nine ends with another sweeping right to left dog leg framed by trees that once again demands an excellent tee shot. As you reach the apex of the dog leg you turn the corner to play up to green sitting next to the clubhouse. In my mind there is always something extremely pleasant about a course that loops back to the clubhouse.
The back nine
The back nine starts with one of the Kedleston's stand out holes. A short, but very testing par 4 with a left to right dogleg. The hole runs downhill and a well placed tee shot with an iron or hybrid is advisable as you face a second shot to a narrow green guarded by a pond that clings to the the left hand side of the putting surface.
Moving onto the 11th, a tough uphill par 3 you get the sense that you are moving from the valley floor and the river to slightly higher ground. Start par, par on the back nine and you will have done extremely well.
The 13th is the first Par 5 on the back nine. At just 480 yrds, the longer hitters will fancy their chances of getting on in two, but the hole is by no means a push over. Again the hole dog legs gently from left to right and demands a highly accurate tee shot with a ditch running through the fairway at around 290 yards. This marks the point where the hole moves uphill to a narrow green.
It was at this stage in the round that I really began to understand how well James Braid had laid out the course. It is not the oldest by any means and has been updated over the years, but it's holes don't criss-cross like many parkland course in the Midlands. There is also ample room for further extension, not that the course lacks in length. As I made my way round, I could glimpse holes through the trees while still playing holes in isolation. Another sign of a great layout in my opinion.
However, what really impresses and makes Kedleston a proper test for any golfer is the way the doglegs sweep gently up or downhill testing your shot making from the tee and ball striking skills from various lies on and off the fairways.
And so, I settled down to enjoy the challenge of the final few holes. The 16th rivals the 7th as the best Par 3 on the course with a green set below the tee and framed by bunkers short and left as well as by trees behind the green. As you stand on the tee, Kedleston Hall sits to the right in full view. The 16th as with much of the course presents a tough challenge and a par is a good score.
You arrive at the 18th to be faced with what is one of the best par 4's on the course. It encapsulates almost all of the Kedleston course in one hole as it sweeps up and to the left with a back to front sloping green overlooked by the club house and bar patio area.
The fairway is lined by towering mature trees on both sides. You will need to hit your tee shot long and straight, a touch of draw is ideal and sets up an uphill second to the generous green. Do not be fooled though, the course has a sting in it's tail in the form of the sharply sloping green, if you are above the hole beware
As you can probably tell I enjoyed my visit to Kedleston, reflecting upon the round in the bar overlooking the 18th it occurred to me that Kedleston is the quintessential English parkland course. The greens were quick, true and devilishly sloping, with the it's holes beautifully laid out and dog-legging around mature trees and all over looked by a superbly grand English country house. All in all a true English gem!
For more information please visit the Kedleston Park GC website - Click here
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