Course Review- Cottesmore Hotel & Golf Club (http://www.cottesmoregolf.co.uk/)
Conditions: Clear, Calm, Warm.
Green Fee: £24.00
Range: Practice Ground
Fourth week running? Why not! This week, again we were treated by some lovely summer weather, and despite a busy weekend, I was able to fit in a late afternoon round at the fantastic Cottesmore Hotel & Golf Club, on their 18 hole ‘Griffin’ Course. Playing during their twilight hours, I was able to get on for £24, which I felt was more than reasonable for a Sunday afternoon.
Cottesmore Hotel & Golf Club is located a little further away than the courses I have played recently, but being located so close to the A23 at Pease Pottage, it is incredibly easy to get to and very conveniently located to be reached from the surrounding towns, the South Coast, or even further north up into Surrey.
Cottesmore Hotel & Golf Club is a family run business, which makes a nice change to the usual Hotel & Golf clubs typically owned by some of the larger chain hotels, and the place definitely had a great, family friendly feel to it on arrival, with parents and their kids practising on the putting green. At Cottesmore, there are two courses, the 18 hole Griffin Course, which I played, and another 9 hole Phoenix Course, which by the looks of it (from the parts you can see from the Griffin Course and also the Course Guide and Website) looks to be a great introductory course to those new to the game, or just for those that only have time for a quick 9 holes.
Upon arrival, I headed to the pro shop where I was greeted by the pro. As usual, I kindly explained that it was my first time at the course, and he was able to point me in the direction of the first tee, and I picked up the previously mentioned Course Guide for the reasonable sum of £5. He was also able to provide a map of the course layout, which is useful given the fact they have the two courses. Unfortunately, there is no driving range as such, but there is a practice ground, hitting nets and a practice putting green, which is where I headed before going out. Immediately I noticed that the speed and quality of the greens were a step change above some of the other courses I had played in previous weeks as I rolled my first putt 10 foot by! 5 more minutes adjusting to the speed and I was ready to head out.
When I got to the first tee, two members kindly recognised that I was playing on my own (with my girlfriend walking around as my caddy again!), and let me proceed ahead of them.
The 1st starts with a dogleg right par 5, with a slightly blind tee shot. Luckily with the combination of the course guide (which includes very useful ‘Pro’s Tips’) and the marker post in the middle of the fairway, I placed a 4 wood down the right hand side of the fairway, which rolled back towards the centre, and just through the fairway short of the ditch. Luck more than judgement pulling 4 wood rather than Driver here, but now I know for next time! A longish second in set up nicely for a fade, which I’m sure as you know by now- I don’t have in my locker! I aim to utilise the ball being above my feet to draw a hybrid into the elevated green, but end up blocking it a little bit right into the trees right of the green. A fortuitous bounce and I have a clear line through to the green, but a duffed chip sees me fail to find it in regulation. I again hit another less than average chip, before two putting for my bogey.
At only 317 yards from the yellow tees, the 2nd is a short par 4, but this gets extended by a whopping 110 yards to the white tee, including a carry over water. I somehow managed to block my Hybrid from the tee so far right (over the trees right of the fairway) that I actually had a line to the flag. A beautifully struck 9 iron had me finding the green in regulation, with a decent putt at birdie. The birdie putt just slid by and I tapped in for my first par of the round. Good save after the tee shot.
The 3rd is an attractive par 3 of 174 yards, where everything slopes from left to right. With the course being pretty firm (but not unplayable), and the course guide suggesting that short left was the best miss, I clubbed down and hit an 8 iron, hoping to bounce it on. Unfortunately I missed the green to the left and ended up a few feet above the putting surface with a poor lie. I thinned my chip shot slightly and this ran over the green, and down the hill on the right of the green. More short game woes continue with a reasonably struck pitch, but failed to find the putting surface, running through onto the far fringe. 1 putt from the fringe and a tap in sees me coming away with a double bogey 5.
The 4th is another dog leg right, this time a par 4, surrounded by mature trees. As normal, with the shape of the hole not suiting my right to left shot shape, I opted for a shorter club, this time a 4 wood, and attempted to catch the slope to bring my ball around the dogleg. I managed to do a fairly good job of what I hoped to do, but my ball just ran through the fairway to finish in the left semi rough. My approach shot into the slightly two tiered green finds the rear fringe. A poor putt from the fringe has me taking another 2 to get down once on the green, coming away with a bogey 5.
The 5th is one of my favourite holes on the course. Not a long hole, but not an easy hole, the 282 yard par 4 requires just an iron off the tee down the right hand side. I opted for a 7 iron, as it was playing downhill, and I didn’t want to be contending with the water at the bottom of the hill. A firm bounce had me far closer than I wanted to be, going through the end of the fairway but nestling in a gully short of the water, leaving a very picturesque approach into the green. From here, a simple lofted wedge into the green, pin high, set me up with a good birdie opportunity from 15-20 feet, which unfortunately slid by on the low side before tapping in for my par.
The 6th is a straightaway uphill par 4, and a great time to get the driver out! I managed to get a good one away, carrying the two bunkers on the left side of the fairway with a nice draw, leaving myself just a short wedge into the green. Another green comfortably found with the approach (although not as close as I would like from this distance), I manage to 2 putt for my par.
The 7th is a benign looking par 3, at only 151 yards from the yellow tees, with no bunkers or hazards in play. However the green slopes away on all sides, so a shot which isn’t straight is punished. I find the front of the green with a 9 iron from the tee, but leave myself quite a bit of work to do with the pin back of centre. I leave my attempted lag putt short, before missing the par putt and tapping in for my first 3 putt of the day.
The 8th is a beautiful dogleg right par 4 (wouldn’t normally say that but it really is), but possibly one of the hardest tee shots on the course, particularly for me! A fade is required to hold the fairway, but with trees down the right, OB down the left, and long thick rough directly in front of the tee, there isn’t much room for error. I try to play a fade with my 4 wood and double cross and end up hooking OB left. Playing 3 off the tee, I opted for a different approach and just tried to hit it straight, knowing that I would probably go through the fairway into the left rough, and actually managed to pull this one off. Playing in to an elevated green, I came up short with my approach, before chipping on to the green and 2 putting for a triple bogey 7.
There is a short walk to the 9th, where the path joins halfway down the fairway, before you head back down the hill towards the clubhouse, where the tee is located. The 9th is a short hole, only 277 yards from the yellows, but the teeshot plays straight uphill, to a point where you would look to land your tee shot, before running down towards a slightly sunken green. I played a 5 iron for safety, down the left side of the fairway, before ending up in a divot just past a lone tree. With an awkward lie and distance downhill towards the green, I decided to play an extended bump and run, trying to use the slopes to get the ball onto the green. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get the strike I wanted, and left myself with a tricky shot from the bank on the right above the green. I channeled my inner Seve and read the bank perfectly, lagging a putt down the slope to a foot, before tapping in for my par.
The back 9 starts with a long and straight par 4. The fairway seems narrower than it is, due to an old tree shielding the right side, guiding you down the left where there is a fairway bunker waiting for you. Guess where I ended up? Fairway bunker. I’m far enough back to advance the ball over 100 yards up the fairway with a 9 iron, leaving myself just a short pitch into the two tiered green. Two putts later and I’m making another bogey 5.
11 is yet another hole that sets up for a fade off the tee. This time, I attempted with my 7 wood and actually succeeded in hitting a fade for a change, finding the middle of the fairway. 120 yards out, it should have just been a simple pitching wedge to the centre of the slightly raised green, but I caught it a little bit thin and went through the back. A pitch onto the green from within the trees, followed by another 2 putts and it’s another 5 for me.
The 12th is a very testing par 3, at 213 yards from the yellow tees, to possibly one of the largest greens on the course. Hitting through a narrow chute between trees over a hollow, there is landing area short of the green if required, however this slopes from left to right toward a large greenside bunker. Not only is the green large, it also has two tiers, with approximately 4ft height change between the two, and trust me, you will be left with a challenging putt if you end up on the wrong one. With 7 wood in my hand, I hit a really crisp tee shot, towering some might say, and land it on the front edge of the green and hold it. You guessed it, I’m on the top tier and the pin is on the bottom tier. With my longest putt of the day (50ft +) actually only playing about 8ft, and breaking twice that amount, I gave this one a long hard look! I judged the putt very well, narrowly missing on the high side, before tapping in for my par.
13 is an uphill dogleg left par 4, finally a hole that sets up nicely for my draw! Maybe a bit over eager with the tee shot, I end up catching it very, very low on the face, are barely make it up the bank before the fairway. To try and get back into play, I hit a hybrid and try to turn it over around the corner slightly, but end up hitting straight through the fairway into the ferns below the trees. I have to take an unplayable from my lie, so my approach is my 4th shot, and it finds the fringe just left of the green. A putt from the fringe, followed by a tap in sees me making a double bogey 6.
The 14th tee is a short walk away and is the first (and shortest) of 3 par 5’s in the last 5 holes. A wide open fairway means I had driver in my hand, but with OB looming left, I put myself in some trouble down the left, luckily finding my ball just inside the white posts, but unplayable. Following a drop, I was faced with the daunting (but fantastic) approach into the 14th green, with around 165 yards to the hole. With the breeze slightly behind, I hit a solid 7 iron onto the green to be on in regulation despite the unplayable. Unfortunately, my putting let me down, and a 3 putt means I’m coming away with a 6.
15 is another par 5, the longest hole on the course at 540 yards from the yellow tees. As stated in the course guide, the hole is actually very similar to the first in terms of the approach to the green. A drive right of the fairway sees me having a bit of tree trouble, and not much of an idea where to play my 2nd shot! I decided to lay up short of the ditch, which was a good option, leaving myself just a 9 iron uphill into the green. Safely on, I have a good attempt at a birdie putt, but again it slides just by, and I tap in for par.
The 16th is the first of two holes that surround a lake. A short par 4 of only 286 yards, the water isn’t really in play from the tee. I opt for a 5 iron for safety, but leave it out a little right, but not in any danger. With only a short wedge into the green, I really should have done better than going just over the back edge. A chip on followed by 2 putts means I’m dropping a shot.
17 is a fantastic short hole, a 154 yard par 3, mostly over water. When I played, there sun was also starting to set which led to a lovely photo! Unfortunately a tree just short left of the green was diseased and needs to be removed. I also managed to back up the lovely photo with a beautifully struck 7 iron, but unfortunately caught it too well and it bounced through the green. Again, I fail to leave to chip close enough, 2 putting for bogey again.
The round ends with the final par 5 18th hole, playing 463 yards from the yellow tee, but unfortunately ended with the biggest blemish on my card. A duck hook with the driver off the tee sees me with tree trouble down the left. I thought I had a gap and tried to punch through, but the ball came ricocheting back, wasting a shot. I follow this with a safer pitch back through, but still have way over 250 yards to the green. I play a 5 iron down the fairway for my 4th to avoid any more danger where the fairway narrows about 120 yards out, leaving myself only 70 yards to the hole. My approach to the green is a little heavy and I end up in the front bunker. I don’t manage to get my first attempt out of the bunker, but the second is safely on with my 7th shot. A final 2 putt of the day to finish off the round with a disappointing closing 9 for a 91 (+19).
In summary, Cottesmore Hotel & Golf Club is a very friendly, easily accessed, family owned leisure complex. Not only do they have 27 holes of golf (the 18 of which I played were fantastic), but also the addition of the hotel and spa means that there truly is something for everyone here. I can’t pass comment on the hotel or spa, but as a golf course alone, the mature trees lining the fairways, manicured fairways and greens, and some interesting water hazards make the course very enjoyable to play. I really loved the stretch of holes 3 through 5, the beautiful par 4 8th, the par 3 12th, and my favourite of all, the par 3 17th. The course was in great condition, which is a testament to the green keepers. The greens were rolling fast and true, which did take a little getting used to! I will definitely be returning to this wonderful venue.
–The Sussex Golfer