Sherfield Oaks course designer Simon Gidman must have counted his lucky stars when he was presented with 440 acres of unspoilt Hampshire parkland with which to work. Complete with gentle changes in elevation and ancient copses of oak and silver birch, Gidman has created two excellent 18-hole layouts ? the Wellington and Waterloo courses ? that opened in August.
Evidence of local approval is an expanding membership that already numbers 400 ? not bad for a new club in a market widely regarded as saturated. “We are very happy with what we have achieved so far at Sherfield Oaks,” says general manager Richard Pilbury, “but of course there is still room for more members.”
6,127 yards from the back, the par-72 Wellington is the tougher of Sherfield Oaks? two courses. As well as being the longer course, the club has allowed the thick, knee-high meadow grass ? almost as thick as the rough found at Open Championships? to grow a bit tighter to the fairways than on the Waterloo, demanding greater accuracy off the tee. Those lucky enough to find stray shots in the long grass will almost certainly find they are out of luck when they try to escape.
A parkland course with seven small lakes around the 36 holes to catch those worm burners, the meadow grass is not the only characteristic Sherfield Oaks shares with traditional links: with much of the land wide open and exposed to the elements, wind will almost always make the courses harder than they may look at first.
The Wellington course is par-69 and reaches 5,579 from the whites, and is probably better suited to high handicappers. Don’t worry too much about sand as there are only 27 bunkers on the course and most of them are relatively shallow.
The young greens and tees are in particularly good condition, and being allowed a more generous cut over the winter months, the greens will run slightly slow but true. This is a wise move for greens so young, and the golf club is sure to reap the benefits next summer.
Best HoleL: 13th on the Wellington, 501yards of dogleg par five. A lake in front of the green catches anything less than perfect.
Green Fees: Green fees Mon-Thurs, Friday, Weekends
Wellington £20, £22, £28
Waterloo £18, £20, £26
Address: Sherfield Oaks, Sherfield on Loddon, Hook, Hampshire RG27 0HA