Trentham Park Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake senior writer Adam Smith (8 handicap) - March 2015
Tucked away on the edge of the delightful Trentham Estate, Trentham Park Golf Club (TPGC) is a great parkland course with a difference that will test even the lower handicappers - especially the back-nine.
Located just off junction 15 of the M6, TPGC is very welcoming with a friendly atmosphere from the club house to the pro shop and onto the first tee.
I mentioned the back-nine but the back six holes (13-18) certainly deserve extra praise and will certainly produce some card wreckers if you’re not playing particularly well. Those last six holes also see a bit of change too as you’ll head from a traditional parkland course into what can be considered a woodland course as your surroundings dramatically change and get tighter thanks to tall trees and narrow green approaches.
Although slightly wet on my visit due to the previous day’s rain, I can tell that come spring time and onwards the course is going to be in great shape. Extensive work is being taken out on tee boxes and even after the weather in Staffordshire previous to my trip I was very surprised at the pace of the greens, something that the club take great pride in when the sun is shining, and I can see why.
International golf course architect, Steve Marnoch is to thank after re-designing the greens and surrounding areas along with re-bunkering the hazardous traps.
TPGC is an 18-hole par 71 course, measuring 6390 yards from the back tees and the home course of former Ryder Cup player David Gilford, who along with Ronan Rafferty, jointly held the course record until June 2006.
One of the aspects I really liked about TPGC is the mixture of holes and how they’re split. There’s tough and long par-4’s mixed in with short but tricky one’s. There’s downhill challenging par-3’s to the short 100-yard flick at the 3rd which is surrounded by bunkers. And then there’s three par-5’s which all have their own identity but provide decent scoring opportunities.
The course start with a par 5 on the 1st and also one of the best tee shots of the day with a lake and waterfall needing to be avoided to get your round off to a good start. If you find the fairway then you should be on for a good start as it’s relatively straight to the green. Avoid the two greenside bunkers and move on confidently to the 2nd tee.
Two good par-4’s follow with the sloping fairway at the 2nd hole it’s biggest defence. Everything bounces towards the out of bounds so aim your tee shot to the left hand side and let the slope and bounce take over.
The short 3rd stands at only 285yards from the back tees but your tee shot has to be hit over an almighty uphill slope. An iron will probably suffice for the longer hitters. The marker post is your line and after that your approach shot into the green slopes towards trouble with two bunkers waiting anything that is leaked to the right. Play your percentages here as this scoring hole will leave you frustrated if you don’t.
The first par-3 of the course is the short wedge flick I spoke of earlier. At 104yards, the green is surrounded by seven bunkers. It also plays slightly uphill so actually judging your short iron will be a bit more difficult. The green itself is only 21 feet deep and pretty narrow so even for a short hole it’s not as easy as it looks on paper.
The 6th is a par-4 that plays shorter than its yardage. Avoiding the fairway bunker on the right about 230yards from the tee and you’ll be left with an approach into a green protected by four bunkers, not that it needs over protecting anyway as this is one of the toughest greens on the course that slopes heavily from left to right.
The front of the par-3 7th green isn’t visible from the tee as two bunkers cover what is a swale short of the green. This means you must fly your tee shot all the way to avoid a tricky chip shot for your second.
Two relatively straight par-4’s complete the outward nine. The tee shot on the 9th must be taken over a lake that is near the tees and shouldn’t come into play but the fairway bunker is well placed and a left to right shot must be hit to find the fairway. Two bunkers – short right and left protect the green but you also don’t want to go long as a lot of trees and wasteland wait.
Just like the front-nine the back opens with a par-5. Off the tee it looks like a dog-leg but longer hitters can cut the corner and take it over the left bunker to give a shot at the green. If not play it safe and play as a genuine three-shotter.
The last par-5 on the course will come quickly on the 12th and although it plays about 20yards longer than the 10th it’s more of a scoring opportunity. From the fairway the green is hidden away but it’s all downhill. Aim at the big fir tree behind the green and you’ll have a good line. There are three bunkers protecting the green though so you’ll need to get a bit lucky. There’s out of bounds all the way from tee to green.
The 13th is when you start to head into the woodlands and also the start of a brilliant stretch of holes. You start with a par-3 which has a great back-drop and a very narrow target so you need to be accurate to come away with a par.
Moving through the woodlands and onto the 14th tee, you’re faced with another semi-blind tee shot. This is the hardest hole on the course and that’s because you have trouble everywhere - Out of bounds all the way down the right, a creek that crosses the fairway and will catch the longer hitters out and then an uphill approach to a small green guarded by three bunkers - A really great hole.
The 15th is a par-3 over a huge drop where to creek contains to flow from the 14th. Take enough club to clear the large bunker in front of the green. The green itself slopes back-to-front.
You face one of the best approach shots on the course at the 16th if you get your drive far enough down. The par-4 dog-legs at around 260yards with the green tucked away in the corner of the woodlands, surrounded by huge trees and bunkers either side. It’s an intimidating shot into a small green so take enough club to get it to the hole on what is an undulating green.
The penultimate hole has you avoiding trouble from the off. This long par-4 stands at 437yards and will take two good hits to get there in two. A large tree sits in the middle of the fairway and well placed hazards either side are waiting for the longer hitters. The bunkers sit just on the corner of the dog-leg with the hole turning slightly left. A 4 here would be a very good score.
A final good drive will leave around 140/150yards into a green protected by three bunkers and with out of bounds and water to the right. The fairway slopes from left-to-right so allow for the bounce, but don’t go too far right otherwise your approach shot will be blocked off by the overhanging trees.
Afterwards you’ll look back on Trentham Park as a real challenge. The conditions meant I played its entire yardage but I can imagine in the summer it will be in pristine condition proving a very tough test especially if it’s your first time round. The greens will be like lightening so make sure your flatstick is behaving.
Make sure that you also have a post round drink in the recently renovated clubhouse. The very friendly staff will look after you. I’d certainly play Trentham Park again because I feel it’s one of those courses that would prove a different challenge every time you play it.
For more information visit www.trenthamparkgolfclub.com
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