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Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0


You know a club was on sound footing when one of its founders, Mr TS Skurray, was the head of Morland Brewery!   Frilford Heath was founded in 1908 and JH Taylor is credited with the original 18 hole course (now called the Red, albeit with some significant modifications). Sometime after WWI the club professional, Mr JH Turner, worked on the original 18 and added a new nine holes.  These holes (with a few switch ins) combined with CK Cotton’s nine holes built after WWII comprises what is now known as the Green Course.  In the early 90s another 18 hole course, the Blue, was designed by Hawtree protégé S Gidman.  I believe our very own A Stiff was in the running for this commission. 

Being a mere 10 miles southwest of Oxford it should be no surprise the 54 hole Frilford Heath GC enjoys a strong reputation among the Oxfordshire set.  I suppose for those in south Oxfordshire, Huntercombe is the only other good alternative, but the two are very different clubs. Frilford is big and brash featuring 54 holes, a huge clubhouse with several dining areas, a locker room approaching American country club size and a massive visitor car park.  By comparison, Huntercombe is diminutive in every way. 

For all that, Frilford’s Green Course may seem big due to the other courses intermingling here and there. For the most part generous fairways and excellent tree management allow good interior views, yet the Green measures just under 5700 (yellow tees).  Its par of 69 does, however, to some degree disguise its teeth. There are four holes requiring some big hitting and one long par 3.  Despite the generally excellent course conditioning – all will not be smooth sailing.  The two very short par 4s are extremely difficult to drive because of the nature of the doglegs and a handful of holes feature centreline hazards of some sort which will thwart smash mouth golf. 

The biggest drawback of the design is the several (seven in total) holes measuring between 320ish and 370ish yards.  With generally fairly flat land, it doesn’t strike me that so many holes of similar length can as a group hold the attention of the keen golfer.  Perhaps some of these holes need the hand of man to make them more interesting and distinguishable.  That isn’t to say they are bad holes, far from it.  Every hole is competently designed, but it is difficult to point out any one hole which could be called outstanding.  Onto the Green.

Similar to Rye, the only par 5 comes out the gate first.  At 463 yards, this must be very reachable in summer.  Today it was a tough ask because the fairway at the bottom of the hill was very wet.  However, I want to reiterate that there were only three such spots; generally, the course was in excellent condition. 




The second is a very good short hole featuring a false front which doesn't seem so from the tee.


The third is visually odd with a massive fairway and nothing on view except for a lone right bunker which is only in play for short hitters. Instinctively I knew there was something fishy on the horizon, but I banged away up the left side of the fairway regardless - the ball was never seen again  :o  Perhaps 40 or so yards short of the green is a hidden hollow packed with two bunkers.  There is also a sandy patch of nasty gorse just shy and left (out of picture) of bunkers.   


The excellent start continues on 4, another modest length two-shotter...


with a few surprises in store; another hidden bunker and sneaky water right of the green.  The green too is quite interesting.  When approaching from the safe left side of the fairway, shots meant for the front of the green are deflected toward the water.   


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 05, 2021, 12:27:56 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

PPallotta

  • Karma: +0/-0
Look forward to more, Sean, as always.

And, after years of reading your profiles of lesser known English inland courses, I've come to the conclusion that any architect (past or present) who HASN'T designed a course in that region is working with an insurmountable handicap, and has been severely disadvantaged. For me, there is no topography, no setting, no climate and no prevailing/dominant ethos better suited to creating fine, interesting and playable golf courses than the English inlands.

Peter  
« Last Edit: March 08, 2014, 11:09:16 AM by PPallotta »

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Other than UK links land, Peter?
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Joe Hancock

  • Karma: +0/-0
My ideal golf-cation has, for a long time, been to go to the UK and play these off the beaten path kind of places w/ my wonderful wife and joining up with the locals who play and love theses courses. I think Sean A. has to be the man to point us around to experience the full flavor of that land.

Joe
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

Paul Dolton

  • Karma: +0/-0
Hi Sean hope you enjoyed the green course. Been a member for twenty odd years. It's courses are all pretty solid but unfortunately no real"wow" holes.
The Green course actually contains some from the original18.
The 14th was the original 1st and the 4th was the original 9th. In fact in one of Darwin's books a picture shows it with a large mound in front of the green with a marker post on top.
I agree with your comparison with Huntercombe. For better or worse we are now in the market place.

PPallotta

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark -  you know, I honestly don't know if I'd even put the links-land above it. I can understand,of course, why others would, i.e. the ideal kind of soil and turf of the links-land, the wind, the sea, the width, the essential nature of the game. But maybe it's because, while I like the sea/coastline well enough I am am not drawn to it, or maybe because the inland's combination of gently rolling land, and vistas, and canted fairways and uphill/downhill shots, and the (smart use of) trees seems more varied/interesting to me, I find myself thinking that if I could take only one trip to the UK (and I've never been there before), I'd choose a trip to the inlands rather than the coast.

Peter

jeffwarne

  • Karma: +0/-0
Mark -  you know, I honestly don't know if I'd even put the links-land above it. I can understand,of course, why others would, i.e. the ideal kind of soil and turf of the links-land, the wind, the sea, the width, the essential nature of the game. But maybe it's because, while I like the sea/coastline well enough I am am not drawn to it, or maybe because the inland's combination of gently rolling land, and vistas, and canted fairways and uphill/downhill shots, and the (smart use of) trees seems more varied/interesting to me, I find myself thinking that if I could take only one trip to the UK (and I've never been there before), I'd choose a trip to the inlands rather than the coast.

Peter

very interesting
you'd like Killarney Mahoney's Point then
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

Ryan Coles

  • Karma: +0/-0
Look forward to more, Sean, as always.

And, after years of reading your profiles of lesser known English inland courses, I've come to the conclusion that any architect (past or present) who HASN'T designed a course in that region is working with an insurmountable handicap, and has been severely disadvantaged. For me, there is no topography, no setting, no climate and no prevailing/dominant ethos better suited to creating fine, interesting and playable golf courses than the English inlands.

Peter  

Sand based heathland courses, I'd agree with you.

Parkland courses in England are, relatively speaking, poor relations. I can't think of 5 really top courses that are parkland. I'd stay the US does these much better.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Pietro - I too really enjoy the variety of English inland golf, but one needs to be selective  ;D

We now cross the Abingdon Road for holes 5 through 13.  Its a mixed bag of holes, none reaching the heights of the opening four holes. 

The fifth reminds me quite a bit of Little Aston.  Lots of bunkering breaking up the visuals with a perfectly placed cross bunker as the highlight. Below is the approach from just shy of the cross bunker.


Despite the obvious tree issues, the short 6th is a fine hole with a tough target for the brave golfer.


A banger hole, #7 played back into the wind, but there is plenty of room to turn the shoulders.  #8 is a bit of a throw away hole; dead straight and straight forward.  The 9th, however, is quite interesting.  At 264 yards this legger right is quite reachable.  The green isn't visible from the tee and two gator eye bunkers block the direct path.  Its still not a bad play to challenge the gorse down the left in the hope of flanking the gator eyes for a good angle of approach.


More to follow.

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 05:28:03 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Peter,

What you need to do, of course, is come over and try both. 
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
The back nine begins with a short hole which continues the strong set of par 3s.  The cross bunkers are well short of the green.




11 is somewhat similar to the 8th, not much happening and for some reason has a swampy swale in the fairway when it seems as though it should be a ditch.  The 12th turns hard right.  Unless one can hit a serious controlled slice, its a forced lay-up.  #13 takes us back to the road with another dogleg right.  Its very easy to play for the better line to the green and over-hit the drive into gorse awaiting a pulled tee shot. 

The approach after a safe drive...


After crossing the Abingdon Road once again, a dead straight hole which can play much longer into a spring wind follows.  #15 turned out to be very deceptive.  Because of the shadows I couldn't see evidence of green or flag.


I trusted the yardage marker and banged one into the darkness.  Turns out the green is well beyond what looks like a green with bunkers protecting front right and left!


More to follow.

Ciao
 
« Last Edit: December 09, 2018, 05:38:36 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Tommy Williamsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH GREEN COURSE: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2014, 07:09:50 PM »
When I lectured at Oxford a few years ago I'd take the afternoon and play nearby courses.  Frilford Heath was a great place to play.  I played the green course but do not remember it very well.  I think I played 36 that day and remember the Red more.  I enjoyed the golf and the atmosphere. 
Tom Williamsen
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
We now push for the house with the straightaway 16th.  The green is built up as are a few others. 


Not having paid attention to the card (I usually don't while playing) and with the parking lot and house upon us, it felt like the round should end. There is, however, 460 yards of golf remaining.  The 17th is a tough par 3 somewhat compromised by the similar feel of 16; good hole though.


The diminutive home hole is quite clever.  Unlike the 9th, where the bunkers can be outflanked, any drive beyond the right fairway bunker must be incredibly accurate for the length to pay off.  Driving up the right leaves a very awkward angle, possibly over a bunker and to a narrow green.  All in all, unless the hole is cut on the front of the green, its probably best to lay-up and trust to a wedge.  The flag can just be seen left between the two furthest right birches.   


That then is the Green Course; quite good without being exceptional.  In fact, the only real issue I have with the course is the green fee.  That said, if one finds his way to the Green as a guest he shouldn't be disappointed.  I would like to revisit and give the Red Course a go.  Last year it hosted the English Amateur for the second time and it has recently hosted 1st stage European Tour Qualifying.   2014

Previous Stops on the Tour:

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,33988.0.html  Notts

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,32228.0.html  Huntercombe 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49796.0.html  Cleeve Cloud 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,49998.0.html  Worcester G&CC 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,35648.0.html  Whittington Heath 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,57487.0.html  West Hill 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,57396.msg1340334.html#msg1340334  Walton Heath Old 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,57349.0.html  Sandy Lodge 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,26579.0.html  Tadmarton Heath 

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,51321.0.html  Sutton Coldfield Recommended in Winter Only

Next Scheduled Stop: Little Aston

Ciao
« Last Edit: January 25, 2020, 06:57:31 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

John Mayhugh

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2014, 10:35:53 PM »
Thanks for another tour, Sean.  The Green course looks fun, but in this case I don't feel like I need to add it to my list of courses I really should see.  Glad you're out there doing the scouting work for me!

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2014, 03:00:15 AM »
Tucky

Thats a good call.  I think if you are close enough to play Frilford Green you may as well play Huntercombe.  Indeed, I actually prefer Oxford GC over Frilford Green by quite a margin, but then I am a sucker for Colt.

Ciao
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Mark Chaplin

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2014, 04:48:15 AM »
Joe a while back we took a taxi from Edinburgh airport to North Berwick, the driver was an avid golfer and obviously drove for many visiting groups. He told us about 4 Americans he'd driven for years all over Scotland playing the best courses, occasionally if one was tired he'd step in and play a round. One year a chap couldn't make it and the remaining three invited him to join them for the week, the condition was he took them "off the beaten track". They spent a week playing unknown courses and had a complete ball and none of the Americans felt they were missing anything being on unknown courses and mixing with locals rather than following Perry golf tour buses everywhere.

It's not a brave move so make sure you plan a trip with your wife, you'll have a memorable trip and save $$$
Cave Nil Vino

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2014, 07:50:13 AM »
Very nice tour Sean, thank you.

I like Frilford Heath and I like the Green course. Okay, the Green course is not long, but a few threads herein have argued over the years that courses for average members should be in the 5,500-6,000 yd range, which is what the Green course is, plus Frilford is a 54-holes club, so 3 courses of differing lengths is no bad thing when you take into consideration ladies and seniors and juniors and novices etc.

I particularly like the stretch of holes 'over the road' with the heather and the gorse, very peaceful and tranquil with a more heathy feel than the first few and last few holes which are more open in character, although non the worse for it. As to the number of holes in the 320-380 range, the holes 'over the road' were laid out in the days of hickory and there's not much space to push the tees back and in the summer when the sandy ground is brown and hard and the ball runs and runs, including sideways, the narrowness of the fairways with the heather and gorse plays an important role.

Is the Green a great test of golf for big strong men given modern equipment? No it's not. Is it a lovely course to spend 3 hrs or so walking around and pretty much irrespective of score finish with a smile on you face? Yes, I reckon it is and I look forward to playing it once again sometime in the next few months.

Frilford also has the more modern style Blue course plus the traditional heathland style Red course. I like the Red and if you fancy playing the Red from the very back Black tees and as set up for the Pro's then the club hold an Open comp just after they have held a Europro Tour event in June and another similar one just after European Tour Qualifying event in early October. Playing the Green as a warm-up and then the Red in one of these Opens ought to make for a rather nice days golf.

atb

Joe Hancock

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2014, 07:57:18 AM »
Mark,

That's a great story. I didn't figure my idea was unique, but it just fits my/ our style vs. doing what most people would. I think it would round out the golf to be in places that resemble a more normal picture of the people, landscape and way of living.

Thanks for the encouragement, I feel like this trip needs to happen sooner rather than later.

Joe
" What the hell is the point of architecture and excellence in design if a "clever" set up trumps it all?" Peter Pallotta, June 21, 2016

"People aren't picking a side of the fairway off a tee because of a randomly internally contoured green ."  jeffwarne, February 24, 2017

PPallotta

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2014, 10:32:51 AM »
Joe - I really hope you and Trixie can get there soon, and can't think of any two people who'd enjoy it more. Just in case you missed it (and so you can consider adding it to your itinerary), there was a thread a while back on Canterbury; my, what a lovely place, the rolling naturalness of it and the ancient cathedral in the distance.  

(Oh, and from Sean's collection of past winter tour links above, yes, please play Notts for me, and, especially for me, Walton Heath Old...I have to admit one of the few courses I actually drool over as the 'ideal').

Peter
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 10:47:27 AM by PPallotta »

Mark Pearce

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2014, 11:06:08 AM »
WHO and Notts aren't really off the beaten path, are they?  Both great courses I'm sure but so they shoold be, with their reputations.  Notts isn't cheap (unless playing as a guest and WHO is downright expensive.  Joe's itinerary should rather feature places like Delamere Forest, Beau Desert and Cavendish.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

PPallotta

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2014, 11:17:11 AM »
Mark - I was being selfish. I know Notts and WHO don't need any more praise/publicity, but after (generously) adding the less-well-known Canterbury to Joe's itinerary, I (selfishly) suggested that he play two of MY wish-list-favourites. Since he will likely get the chance before I ever will, I can then bask in his reflected pleasure without ever having to foot the bill. (How Joes and Trixe will PAY for it all is THEIR concern! Some friend, huh?). But, yes, yes, yes, to Delamere, Beau Desert and Cavendish. (Joe, you can thank us later...)

Peter

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2014, 07:29:50 PM »
Pietro

WHO really is about 18 holes making a whole - its quite a special course and yet one where it is easy to see why people aren't taken by it. 

Thomas

I too like the Green, but its difficult to fork over that green fee for a course of this quality which doesn't really beckon me.  I can't point to a single hole which makes me smile.  While I tend to be the sort of guy who thinks a course is only as good as its weak links, I still enjoy a few holes which give pause.  This to me is the main difference between the Green and Huntercombe.  Huntercombe likely has five holes or more which rise above anything found on the Green.  There is a sense of identity which Huntercombe owns that can never be with the Green.  In truth, two courses in completely different leagues, yet I like the Green - what is not to like? 

Ciao
 
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies & Crystal Downs

Ryan Coles

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2014, 08:07:57 PM »
Sean

We're those pictures taken this winter?

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2014, 05:32:49 AM »
Sean,

Glad you liked the Green. It is indeed not in the same league as Huntercombe 20 miles down the road but then not much is in the same league as Huntercombe! :)

Out of interest, how much did Frilford charge for a round on the Green in winter with a County Card?

atb

Mark_Rowlinson

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: FRILFORD HEATH Green Course: The 2013/14 Winter Tour Strides Forward
« Reply #24 on: March 12, 2014, 06:47:09 AM »
These take me back to undergraduate days in the late 1960s. The problem with Frilford and Huntercombe was that you needed a car to get there and undergraduates were not allowed to keep cars within Oxford city boundaries, even if they could afford them. So we were limited to Southfield (walk or bike) or North Oxford which nobody played. Friends with cars would occasionally make Northants County and Tadmarton Heath available, which may explain my fondness for both, although I am aware of Sean's comparative lack of love for Tadmarton. Henley I played once (and was completely bamfoozled by its hilliness and narrowness between the trees) and I greatly enjoyed a visit to Goring and Streetley with a colleague (who died recently - we're all getting older). We particularly enjoyed the hill climbing and views. We'd probably not enjoy it now and one of Sean's accounts was fairly critical. Temple was another of those one-offs available only if you knew someone with a car.

In the 60s Frilford was a notably dry course, as good in winter as in summer. Huntercombe always seemed rather forbidding - you never knew whether they would allow you out to play even though the course was deserted. But green fees were a deterrent to the impoverished undergraduate and with Southfield charging £5 a year for undergraduate membership there was every incentive to return there. Moreover, despite its urban surroundings, there didn't seem to be any by-laws prohibiting play at 6am or earlier.

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