Take a look at our picks for the Best Golf Courses in Oxfordshire below.
The Best Golf Courses In Oxfordshire
Not the largest English county, there are a vast selection of golf courses just a stones-throw away from the picturesque city of Oxford. For those looking for more of a traditional golf track, Huntercombe and its heather is a delight, whereas the new layout of the Oxfordshire offers some visually stunning holes for you to enjoy. Alternatively, Frilford Heath gives you three different tests in the form of their Red, Green and Blue courses.
Oxfordshire offers something for everyone so as a result we have taken a look at some of the best the county has to offer below.
Related: Golf Monthly’s UK&I Top 100 Courses
One of golf course architecture’s founding fathers was Willie Park Jnr, whose first design was the magnificent Old course at Sunningdale. He actually owned the course here, which allowed him to extend his creativity to the full. It remains a real one-off and a beautiful place to play. Unusually there are just 13 sand bunkers, but there are many grassy hollows that can be just as challenging. Careful strategic thinking is required to navigate round to the testing greens.
Frilford Heath (Red, Green, Blue)
Located to the South of Oxford, Frilford Heath Golf Club started life in 1908 when JH Taylor designed the Red Course but over time the 500 acres of heathland has been added to on more than one occasion. There are three courses there now, the Red, Green and Blue, along with a short version called the Yellow. We start by looking at the Red.
A tough test from the Black Tees, the Red provides a traditional heathland experience that demands accuracy. The 8th is one of the best front nine holes, a long, testing par 4 with an imposing tree 120 yards from the tee.
The back-to-back 13th and 14th are then among the back nine highlights, the former a dogleg with a tricky narrow-fronted green and the latter boasting picturesque pines to the rear. Following the blindish tee-shot on 17, the 18th is a risk-reward hole that might goad you into attacking it downwind, though the adjacent car park isn’t beyond the realms of possibility with an over-zealous pull.
The Green started life as a nine-holer in the 1920s. Holes five to 13 formed the original layout, which was so highly regarded that Bernard Darwin hailed it one of the two best nine-holers in the land along with Royal Worlington. This lovely little course scarcely scrapes over 6,000 yards off the tips, but length is almost irrelevant as its more of a though-provoking test than its older and younger brothers, with some splendid arboreal specimens especially on that original nine. And for all its seeming shortness, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security prematurely – from the 14th, it hits back hard with three 400+ yard par4s and a 195 yarder that looks longer on the tee. A closing 290-yarder may seem a parting gift, but with OOB awaiting any blocked aggression, caution should still be exercised.
The Blue, which arrived in 1994, is different again with elements of both parkland and heathland, a good sprinkling of water hazards early on and a links feel in places, nowhere more so than on the long 17th where the drive must be threaded with precision between four well-placed bunkers. Two par 3s stand out heading out – the 3rd where water is an ever-present danger, and the pretty 6th where pines and gorse provide a stirring backdrop, as they do later on the nearby 12th, a short, sharp dogleg right.
An excellent and varied test, set-up well for the average golfer without too much punishing rough – very wise given that the water skirting many fairways and greens, and the stiff breezes that often sweep across the course, are ample challenge for most. Among the waterside highlights are the par-3 13th, where discretion may be the better part of valour if the pin is back left, and the famous par-5 17th where there are two fairways playing either around or across a lake. For most playing around will be the shrewdest, maybe only, option.
Containing some truly stunning courses, we take a…
Perched 650ft above seal level, Tadmarton Heath is a very pleasant and peaceful spot for a round, blessed with a clubhouse that from certain angles looks for all the world like a large, country cottage, which is entirely in keeping with the overall feel.
The holes interweave intricately, which must allow members to play an almost infinite number of shorter loops if they haven’t got time for a full 18 and club rules permit! There’s a scary sleeper-faced bunker short right of the 6th which must gather a lot of balls and certainly wont tolerate anything less than full committed bunker play, while the signature 7th that follows is a glorious short par 3 across a gully to a well protected green.
The 10th is then a classic example of the kind of hole we just don’t have enough of these days. Its scarcely over 100 yards, but surrounding bunkers and tricky contours on the green make you think par would be most welcome even if armed with a wedge – golfs forgotten art.
Oxford Golf Club
One of the oldest clubs in the country, the current course has had James Braid and Harry Colt influence in its design. After a couple of fairly straight-forward par-4s, the 3rd is the first real test of your golf game. A challenging par-4, you play down into a valley and then the fairway splits thanks to a ditch. However just finding the fairway isn’t enough, you simply must aim for the right-hand side of the short grass because it will give you a better chance of hitting into the green which is uphill and around to the left. Take a par and move on here.
Indeed, accuracy off the tee is very important throughout the round, so if you drive the ball well there are plenty of good scoring chances.
Heythrop Parl, set in the beautiful rolling countryside of Oxfordshire outside the market town of Chipping Norton, is a classic parkland layout that is both testing and quirky in equal measure. Designed by Tom McKenzie, the course only opened for play in 2009 but that doesn’t mean it will not test your golf game.
Water comes into play on no fewer than eight holes, with the pick being the short par-4 16th. With little over 300 yards separating tee from the putting surface, players could be forgiven for underestimating this gem from the scorecard. But accuracy from an elevated tee is paramount as water runs in front and then parallel to the fairway.
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