Contributing Editor Rob Smith reviews the beautiful course at Cavendish Golf Club in Derbyshire

Cavendish Golf Club Course Review

Not too many established courses of modest length are both a proper test and a complete delight, but the Alister MacKenzie design at Cavendish Golf Club in Derbyshire is an extremely notable exception…

Happily, the misplaced fashion for golf courses of ‘championship’ length has been debunked and most of us realise that it’s not all about yardage. A varied and clever design in a beautiful location is of far more importance, and Alister MacKenzie’s pre-Augusta creation has both in abundance.

A few years ago, the course at Cavendish Golf Club was included in our Hidden Gems feature, since when it has rightly worked its way into Golf Monthly’s Next 100 Courses of the UK & Ireland. Set in a delightfully secluded valley on the outskirts of Buxton in Derbyshire, the par 68 course twists and turns its way over gently undulating springy turf with something new awaiting at every turn.

The first three holes run back and forth above the clubhouse, relatively straightforward and an ideal way to warm up.

The third green with the beautiful rolling hills beyond

The third green with the beautiful rolling hills beyond

As you stand on the next tee looking down at the green, it is hard to imagine a more natural or lovely setting for a green.

The par-3 fourth - an absolute gem of a short hole

The par-3 fourth – an absolute gem of a short hole

Five and six are tough and lengthy par 4s, the latter blessed with a setting that could almost be in Georgia where MacKenzie was to design his piece de resistance a few years later.

At 412 yards, the sixth has a real touch of Augusta about it

At 412 yards, the sixth has a real touch of Augusta about it

Although it is short, the par-4 seventh has a tight drive through the trees before opening out to a green protected by bunkers and a fall off to the left. From here, there are lovely views over the valley back to the opening holes and the grandstand eighteenth.

The seventh green with the clubhouse beyond

The seventh green with the clubhouse beyond

The drive at the eighth is over the crest of a hill to a rumpled fairway…

A hard-to-judge approach follows the blind drive at eight

A hard-to-judge approach follows the blind drive at eight

… and the ninth is no distance but very attractive and inviting.

Pretty as a picture - the short ninth

Pretty as a picture – the short ninth

The two holes that open the back nine have the potential not just to wreck a card, but to incinerate it! At ten, you must drive as far as you can and leave as short an approach as possible because there is a deep chasm before the green that must be home to a thousand abandoned golf balls.

The super-tough tenth demands a long approach over a deep and wide gulley

The super-tough tenth demands a long approach over a deep and wide gulley

Eleven is almost as tough, with a long second played to a green below you, and there is some relief at the next two with the thirteenth yielding me a rare birdie two courtesy of an equally rare well-struck hybrid and a curling putt. The fourteenth is a graceful long hole, just shy of 500 yards and with OOB lining the entire journey on the left.

Hole 14 - the only par 5 which works its way from right to left to a raised green

Hole 14 – the only par 5 which works its way from right to left to a raised green

The next three holes see two very pretty par 3s either side of a downhill par 4, before a suitably testing long two shotter makes its way to a flat green situated below the watchful eye of the clubhouse.

The very pretty par-3 seventeenth

The very pretty par-3 seventeenth

I have only spent one day at Cavendish, playing two rounds, but I can still clearly recall every hole. If I lived closer, it is a course that I would happily play again and again, and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone, especially those who think that yardage is important!

A glimpse of the fifteenth green in the foreground with the fifth to its right and the fourteenth beyond

A glimpse of the fifteenth green in the foreground with the fifth to its right and the fourteenth beyond