A Bitingly Bitter Day at Allestree Park
Golfshake's Andy Picken continues his ongoing story at Allestree Park, visiting the venue and charting former holes designed by the great Harry Colt.
Friday, the 4th of December was a bitingly bitter day in Allestree Park
A tee time for myself and Golfshake's Darren Ramowski was booked to play at Allestree Park Golf Club. I wanted to introduce him to the joys of this venue before it closed forever as a result of Derby City Council's decision to close it from 31st December 2020.
The course is easy to find, being only a couple of miles from Derby City Centre. Described as the City’s lungs, given the 400 acres of wonderful, publicly accessible parkland available as part of the local nature reserve.
A meandering drive leads to a spectacular view of Allestree Hall, a grade 2 star listed building that contains the pro shop.
It was barely above freezing and raining sideways as I negotiated the drive. I was astonished to see that the car park was full and the course was covered with golfers.
This is a failing golf course, one that is closing in a manner of days. There are no available tee times at any point during the daylight hours despite the awful weather. It was sold out.
Our intention to video our playing attempts was foiled by the weather. It was so bad that it would have damaged the camera equipment so we cancelled our tee time and instead walked the venue and site.
Andy talks through what makes a Colt designed course and offers insights to Allestree Park.
This course is located within a park and thus available to all to enjoy. We spoke to dozens of golfers, most of whom had read our previous articles and who applauded our attempts to raise public knowledge of the background issues behind the course closure.
Golf is sometimes accused of being in elitist. At Allestree Park I saw all ages, races and genders represented.
I was surprised at the number of younger men and women that I saw who are actively playing and enjoying this wonderful sport. I saw some clearly novice swings with varying degrees of success. Nonetheless they had clearly been bitten by the golfing bug to be playing in these wild and wintery conditions.
There is no discussion about the colour or length of socks at Allestree Park. Safe and sensible is the order of the day. Not much designer gear visible apart from one PGA Pro from Stoke who was wanting to play one last time at his first club. N.B. At least seven current Derbyshire PGA Professionals have started their golfing journey at Allestree Park.
I also saw at least one waterproof jacket that was not the usual brand of golf wear. It was in a certain railway company's colours. That certain railway company's trading mark in the centre of the back of the coat was simply covered by a clear rectangular shape of what looked suspiciously like gaffer tape.
Did anyone mind? Heavy duty weather gear was required and this suited the bill perfectly.
Playing the game of golf at Allestree Park is totally accessible. It has been since 1948. Accessible to all, not restricted by financial constraints. Five hours of quality entertainment for £13. Great value.
I've had the opportunity to play some wonderful Harry Colt designed facilities in my lifetime.
I think of playing Royal Portrush, a Colt design, before The Open Championship in 2019. A wonderful experience that had a particular resonance for me because of the importance of the venue to my late father-in-law who introduced me to golf. I don't mind admitting I played the first three holes in tears, but it was tears of joy and tears of sheer pleasure.
I've had the opportunity to experience the wonderful Stoke Park. Another of Colt's famous designs with an equally famous grade 2 star heritage listed building within the wonderfully sculptured grounds.
The place where Goldfinger, the James Bond film was shot. The place where I received lessons on bunker play from David Leadbetter and I managed to fill his medical boot with a pound of sand.
It would be very unusual if you were to visit these venues as a complete novice to the game. You would use the excellent practice facilities and expect to pay premium prices for access to premium facilities.
Allestree Park has the advantage of being totally accessible to all, no financial constraints, simply golf. Golf for all. We stayed at the venue for several hours until it was too uncomfortable to remain, checking out old green sites and tee boxes, reflecting on this course's rich story, one that could forever be lost to history.
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