Mannings Heath Waterfall Course Review
Feature review by Golfshake ambassador Andrew Picken who visited Mannings Heath at the beginning of October 2015 to experience the venue, hotel and both golf courses.
Mannings Heath Golf Club near Horsham in Sussex is a 500 acre site offering two separate 18 hole championship golf courses. They also have accommodation on site for the travelling golfer with a magnificent ‘exclusive’ hotel, South Lodge situated 5 minutes away by car where we also stayed.
I travelled to the venue with some excitement as the clubs website detailed a real golfing experience to be savoured. The web site was full of information detailing the clubs history and origins but also a number of packages designed to tempt the travelling golfer.
Amongst the headline facts it stated that this was the venue for the 2013 Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championships. ‘Tins Trophy’ was played here during a charity day headed by Mike Tindall, the World Cup winning rugby legend. Seve and many other famous golfers have quotes attributed to them including Mr Gary Player adding the 11th into his world best 18 holes.
Pre round thoughts
My appetite was truly whetted as we drove through the country lanes catching occasional glimpses of the course from the road. The clubhouse can only be described as spectacular. It is a 17th century building of immense stature and presence. The course is described as a hybrid, a mix between heathland, down land and parkland.
On the day we were lucky to have beautiful autumnal weather, which continued for our stay - this added to the pleasure of the experience as a whole.
As part of our ‘stay and play’ package we were also being offered the chance to play the members only course, The Waterfall. However visiting golfers can take up the ‘Member for a day’ experience. This provides access to breakfast, 18 holes on The Waterfall course and lunch as well as a golf goodie bag.
Before the round I spoke with Andy Hailes, the Head Professional and Golf Operations Manager who was clearly a real fan of the course and all it had to offer. He had joined as a junior and progressed to his current heights from within. He had an excellent knowledge of the course and provided some useful tips and strategies to be employed.
We treated ourselves to one of the 46 eco friendly electric buggies and I would recommend new visitors do the same. There are some long walks between tees and many slopes and hills with which to contend. This will add to your enjoyment until you get to understand the layout better.
The Waterfall Course
The opening hole, known as Sodom, is a daunting tee shot in full view of the clubhouse and patio populated by other golfers. From an elevated tee a long and accurate drive over a wooded valley is required to find a fairway. The green is elevated and protected by two bunkers right and left. As I stood ready to putt for a birdie I looked up to see the hole layout behind me with the clubhouse like a cherry on top of a cake. A magnificent view with the excellent quality greens sloping back towards it.
The par 4 2nd, called Gomorrah and is a very short par 4 by today’s standards. 299 yards off the white pots. A good hole nonetheless, requiring strategic positioning off the tee before playing to a well protected green.
Aptly name Hellcorner, it was for me, the 4th par 4 383 yards. The view from the tee is framed by well developed trees and unfortunately I failed to draw the ball into the fairway. A reload and a 7 followed.
First of the par 3s the 5th, named Punchbowl is a beautiful 184 yard hole. A tiny green with a steep incline to its right requiring steps to be built into it for access to any shot pushed right. Go too far right and trouble awaits from the large bunker. Don’t be fooled into playing short as there is a collar of rough grass around the green at the bottom of the slope to prevent a lazy approach by trickling a ball off the incline.
The par 5 8th hole requires accuracy off the tee due to the OOB boundary of the driving range. A well protected green needs to be approached with a long iron or a layup due to the number of well placed bunkers and not forgetting the ditch. This is a hole that requires thought.
The 10th called Waterfall gives its name to the course and is a par 3 measuring 173 yards off the white tee’s. With an elevated tee don’t be fooled but what seems like a short hole, picking the right club is key here. There is also a stream that runs across this part of the course and the hole is also towered over by substantial trees that add to the overall difficulty and visual beauty.
At 369 yards the par 4 is a beautiful golf hole requiring very careful club selection off the tee as the desired landing area is very tight and access to the green is again protected by the stream. The stream runs down the left hand side of this hole presenting probably the hardest tee shot on the course. Further down, the fairways are also protected by trees on either side, once you reach the green the stream again protects any wayward shots on the left side as well as the back.
Known as Blaster the par 3 14th plays 158 yards off the white tee. The tee shot requires navigation of a shute of tree’s to hit a green with a false front and a handful of protective bunkers. The greens on the course are all excellent. True, evenly paced and everything you would expect of a course of this standard.
To finish Fullers the par 4 18 is a brute. Playing from the top of a huge valley you can see ditches and rough from around 260 yards. Down the fairway the approach to the thin narrow green is uphill once again emphasising the need of careful club selection, anything short may also bring into play the stream which once again cuts a path across the final hole.
There are some views and vistas offered during the round that literally stopped me in my tracks. This is defined as an “area of outstanding natural beauty” and I do not disagree.
There is a real feeling of seclusion when playing as there are no outside distractions, like road noise, from the undulating terrain and streams that wind their way alongside 11 of the fairways. In fact the only disturbance we had was startling a couple of the wild deer herd when trying to play the 11th.
Post round thoughts
This is a great course usually only accessed by the membership. I recommend it fully as a golfing challenge of the highest order requiring the most strategic of thinking.
On reaching the clubhouse for a well deserved drink I noticed pride of place hanging over the mantle piece was a propeller from a Halifax bomber that crashed on the course on 17th February 1945. The crew had local connections and their passing is still commemorated by a plaque and an annual visit from family and friends to lay wreaths as a remembrance of their sacrifice.
This type of understated memoriam seemed to encapsulate the type of club we had played. Not a place that stands from the roof tops trumpeting its credentials, merely a top quality golfing venue where traditions and standards are in evidence at every turn. I envy the membership being able to access this course and I cannot imagine ever getting bored with what it has to offer.
Final note I really liked the ethos and style of Manning’s Heath. It declares its mission statement as follows:
“We live and breathe golf! We aim to uphold the greatest traditions of the beautiful game, whilst providing a truly exceptional golfing experience for our members and visitors.”
In my case and that of my playing partners we totally agree with the sentiments and confirm that they delivered in every possible aspect of our stay.
This was a wonderful golfing experience that I would love to repeat in the future. I would highly recommend this facility and the stay and play package was a real treat.
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