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Sean_A

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2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK New
« on: November 01, 2014, 08:13:54 AM »
After seven years of threatening, I finally made it down to the very attractive town of Bradford on Avon, some 10 miles from Bath, for a game at Cumberwell Park.  My main goal was to see the newest addition to the club, the Orange nine.  I recall being impressed by photos many years ago and I especially liked the idea of building a course on a landfill site.  Of course, a bi product of landfill is few trees, not at all an issue for me  :D One hears the word landfill and immediately assumes the area will be visually marred; not so.  For the most part, the routing provides exhilarating views of rolling Wiltshire Cotswold Hills countryside and the remainder of the 36 hole complex in the valley. 

Upon entering the car park my first thought was the place is incredibly busy.  This is a stark contrast from the mainly member owned clubs I frequently play which are generally sleepy affairs and offer millionaire golf.  The focus on business is quite evident and admirable, however, as is often the case when money is the driving force, the courses were crowded and a slowish game was the result.  I suspect golfers are permitted to play any combination of nines because all four opening holes are fairly close to the house.  The club also cleverly takes advantage of the central house to allow 9 hole games at a reduced rate. 

The opener is quite an easy short four which can be driven from the yellow markers.  However, there is a bunker short right of the green that must be contended with if one wants to have a go.  The challenging  and provocative bunker placement continues throughout the Orange nine and is a model of design. 


The dead ground behind the right bunker is heightened by a wee dip.


The first short hole is very good, especially with the hole location up front.  For those of us with a more rounded version of a flat belly, there is a way to sneak attack the hole location below by playing just right of a centerline knob which wasn't immediately apparent.  I did think a safer shot right would be in the hands of a random bounce which could leave one with a longish downhill putt.


The knob in question is just right of the golfers.  I know this is small beer, but its this sort of design which I find most engaging. 


Another fairly short two-shotter, the third uses bunkers very well.  One of the best attributes of treeless sites is there are no landmarks to help with judging distance.  The right bunker is maybe a 240 carry.  I knew it would be a difficult carry not because it looked to be the case, but because the first two holes gave me a firm message that all is not what it seems.  If one successfully carries the bunker the hole opens a bit mainly because the view of the green is better. This is no small matter because the green has a pronounced right to left slope which wasn't a main feature of the first two greens.  Again, not a major issue, but I think holding off on the obvious green slope (given the terrain) until the third hole was very shrewd.




The one tick against the Orange nine is the conditioning. The course was already soft which leads me to believe it doesn't hold up well in winter.  Many parkland courses are soft and make the mistake of leaving unnecessary bands of rough near greens making chipping a rather claggy, boring affair.  This was not the case for the Orange nine.  Despite the soft conditions, there is plenty of width and short grass areas around greens which made the course quite playable even though conditions were far from ideal.


The next hole, a par three uphill into a bowl, as seen from the fifth fairway.


#5 may be my favourite hole on the side.  Not a long par 4, but uphill (and today into the wind), the hole features a gaggle of centreline bunkers.  Again, it is difficult to know what the carry is, but there are good options right and left.  I think left will leave a better line into the green as the right side does have an element of blindness.  Now then, we climb to a higher part of the property for the start of three banger holes, a long two-shotter and two three-shotters.  #s 6 & 7 share a fairway which may be the widest expanse of short grass in England! My mate is dead between the two holes. 


The most interesting aspect of the hole, however, is the raised green.  What a bugger of a target for a 400+ yarder. 


The seventh plays along a sharp drop and bunkers to the left then legs downhill left.  It takes a very good drive to earn a view of the green...well beyond my capabilities.  I suspect, short hitters will either have to flirt with the left side on their second or accept this hole as par 6.   


Well down the line, a large hidden bunker awaits the greedy golfer.  There are more bunkers left making the bailout more interesting.


A closer look at the green reveals some bumps and rolls which are prevalent throughout the Orange nine. 


The final leg of this three hole 1500 yard juggernaut is the most difficult hole on the side.  The entire hole is set between the high ground and the valley, on a sort of shelf.  There is a nest of bunkers on the right side leaving some hope of a fairway lie if one falters in this direction, but the goal has to be down up the left of the fairway.  The second takes the golfer right around the slight bend  ;D .  Large bunkers protect the right and better side of approach.  The long and narrow green slopes brutally right down the hill.  The photo below is from the 7th tee.


A very cool uphill par 3, the 9th has its green squeezed between a blind hollow and a quarry stone wall.  Although the look of the hole is spoiled a bit by the gorse backing the wall, but then I am not at all keen on gorse.

We made the trek over to the Blue nine...a totally different style of design from the Orange.  The Orange shoots at being a downland design (albeit with parkland turf); the Blue is full on 80s/90s design with water as a main feature.  The turf is exactly the same, but the conditioning is superior to the Orange.  I spose this disparity is due to the difference in maturity levels, but I am not certain.  One thing which I find very troublesome about 27 or 36 hole complexes trying to offer different nine hole combinations is the hole numbering. Golf courses should be numbered 1 to 18.  I detest seeing #19, 25, 31 etc.  I would much prefer two 18s.  Usually, there are natural pairings due to proximity or some other reason.  Bottom line, four nines do not equal endless combinations; its a gimmick and the card is a mess.  End of rant  8) 

While I don't think the Blue and Orange work in any fashion as a cohesive design, there are two other nines to play in seeking a better match.  That said, I liked the Orange a lot as a nine holer and think Adrian Stiff has hit on a winner.  I would like to see it in firmer conditions to gain a better insight as to how the the design functions.  Since the club offers a 9 hole rate, I think the Orange merits a 1*.  The course is well worth a go for tourists bombing around Bath who would like to get out for a few holes without breaking the bank.   2014

Previous stops on the Tour:

http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30926.0.html  Kington

Next scheduled stop: Little Aston

Ciao
« Last Edit: December 08, 2017, 06:08:55 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Ryan Coles

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2014, 08:55:24 AM »
Sean

Another good write up - you should do this for a living. Not many can write reviews as well as you do.

I know the club fairly well and yes it's busy, but I think they strike a pretty good balance for the members. It offers 36 holes, range, best short game area in England and a soon to be 9 hole course. All for under 1,000 per annum near an expensive city like Bath. To me it is a model golf club for the proprietary sector and one of the few new ones to really prosper.

Good players really like the orange. Being clay it does sometimes get hard and baked in the summer (the good players like this less...) The other two nines are closer to the blue than orange but both have some nice holes and all the par 3's are excellent - I think par 3's are something that Adrian really seems to nail on all his courses.

It is an interesting contrast between the orange and you do question if this is the same architect. As with the Stranahan Course at Players Club, the orange is different to anything else in the immediate area.

PPallotta

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2014, 09:20:50 AM »
Sean - thank you as always for an excellent review. (I am now convinced of the truth of re-incarnation, as nothing but having lived there before in another life would explain this (currently) Italian-Canadian's love for the Cotswolds and English golf in general.)

I am confused, however. I thought you said that the Orange 9 was built on a land-fill site. That's not possible, is it? Are the golf holes I'm looking at actually built on a landfill? If so, extra special kudos to Adrian Stiff - terrific work!!

 

Jon Wiggett

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2014, 10:42:16 AM »
Sean,

once again an excellent review. Course looked very good and should get even better as it matures. It is a shame there were no photos of your favourite hole though will you be remedying this omission? As Ryan says, from the photos Adrian does seem to be a master at producing quality par 3. It is nice to see a newish course being reviewed which is not also a millionaires lovechild :)

Jon

Thomas Dai

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2014, 11:24:37 AM »
I was curious to see the 1st Orange hole from a few angles as it was highlighted by Marc as an example of using a low mound just short of green - see thread - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,59775.0.html - for more, so the fact you picked up on the feature in your tour was nice to spot.
atb

Paul Gray

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2014, 12:27:11 PM »
As ever, excellent tour. Thanks Sean.

Whilst I can't imagine I'd be interested in the Blue, the Orange would certainly get my attention if in the area and 9 holes was on the agenda.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2014, 03:50:28 PM »
What is quite amazing about Mr Arble is that he has picked up several points that people that have played the course 50 times have not notice/grasped or understood, Sean gets it on first play.

Whilst the Orange course is the most recent, it was actually designed in 1988, though the owners The James brothers have added various parcels of land over the 25 years, the Red and Yellow came first in 94, the expansion to 27 the blue nine came a few years after, longer, more water and more undulations on the green was the brief. I agree about the numbering of the holes causes confusion and I think it holds them back from getting more attention as it is un-natural on the memory to talk about a 33rd or 34th, personally I think 1-9 on the blue and orange. There is no doubt that the Orange is more of a nine and it does not work as an integration with the others, the other three do work though we have a 5th nine planned that lies to the left of the blue so ultimately Red & Yellow would be one course, and the idea was that the Blue had its own nine added. The Orange also has a planned nine and four holes have been shaped up, they own some more land and we even had a 4th par 64 course outlined at one stage.

The Orange is on landfill but it is inert landfill so that is essentially subsoil from another site. There is no paper or household waste and therefore no gas problems. I have used landfill in many of my projects the beauty is you get the golf course built for nothing. It is not all gold there are problems with using inert fill but the good bits (the income) outweigh the bad ones.

It is very successful and one person likes the Orange and another prefers the yellow or red or blue, it is a pretty equal split though if anything the Orange is the least liked because of its lack of trees and water. That as I keep harping on about is the dilema, what we like on here is a minor opinion.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Paul Gray

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2014, 04:15:47 PM »
No dilemma, Adrian. As I keep harping on about, it's McDonald's vs good food. People tend to prefer good food once they get it but it isn't an instant hit.  ;D
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Ryan Coles

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2014, 04:23:35 PM »
If you drink champagne every day, what do you drink when you have something to celebrate?

These clubs are golf for the vast majority in this country. The jacket & tie brigade don't want the majority, and the majority don't want "educating".


Adrian_Stiff

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2014, 04:46:12 PM »
No dilemma, Adrian. As I keep harping on about, it's McDonald's vs good food. People tend to prefer good food once they get it but it isn't an instant hit.  ;D
There is no right or wrong, you like what you like and others prefer something different. The problem (if it is a problem) is that the best players play on 7000 yard + golf courses, the best golf tournaments are played on narrow fairways....that is the elite part of the game, the game of golf to 95% is hitting it straight is good, miss the fairway it should be a form of penalty. Strategic golf hardly exists for the best players. Perhaps it is two different games but the trouble is the customer wants to play the same form as the top players and by default in the eyes of many anything less than 6000 yards is crap. Roller coaster greens are mickey mouse to many.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 05:06:53 PM by Adrian_Stiff »
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2014, 05:00:19 PM »
Nice review Sean. You should have let me know you were playing my home course and I could maybe have joined you. I only live over the hill towards Bath.

The course does play F&F in the summer and looks much better as well when the rough is up.

2 pics below of 3 and 2 on the Orange

« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 05:19:10 PM by Marc Haring »

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2014, 05:06:13 PM »

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2014, 05:07:47 PM »
« Last Edit: November 01, 2014, 05:10:08 PM by Marc Haring »

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2014, 05:34:24 PM »
great pic Marc....you had a great pic of the 9th 36th. Shame Sean never had a pic of 5.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Greg Taylor

Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2014, 05:42:52 PM »
Thank you once again for posting this Sean... I look forward to your "Lesser Known Courses of England" book - think about it. You have the knowledge!

And I love this:

These clubs are golf for the vast majority in this country. The jacket & tie brigade don't want the majority, and the majority don't want "educating".

Word to your mother!

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2014, 05:43:14 PM »
I did Adrian but like my past life within the industry, the pics seemed to have dissapeared.  ;)

At least I'm back playing golf and even getting it round in half decent scores suprise surprise.

Cumberwell is the best place to play golf locally. Whenever I bring guests they are bowled over by the place.

Sean_A

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK New
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2014, 06:17:50 PM »
Thanks all

Adrian

You have really hit a happy medium between a bit of funk, some movement in greens, some straight forwards shots, some deception, plenty of space to give the golfer confidence and enough rope to hang himself - all without going ott.  The Orange is most definitely a keeper. 

The sun was in the wrong spot to bother with a photo for #5, but the tee shot is an excellent example of making folks think.  Sure, the flat bellies just bomb it oe'r the top, but that is life...you can't get every hole right for every class of golfer...and to be honest I am not sure that is even desirable.  I wanted to drop balls in different parts of the fairway and see how the approach plays out.  I think going straight over the bunkers and staying on short grass is the best angle simply because there is a rise in the first half of the green which I think will shove left or right approaches away from the centre of the green...but I am not certain. 

I did talk to a member about the Orange and he said he didn't like it as much as the other 9s because of the wind.  I also asked about the island green being built near the club drive.  He said that would be part of an academy course!  I am not sure that is wise, but I think having the hole along the club drive is very clever marketing. 

Marc

Sorry I didn't contact you.  I didn't realize you were a member.  Also, stops on the Winter Tour are easily cancelled if the weather looks at all dodgy...so I tend to stick with like-minded golfers for these affairs...I don't try to convert anyone!  Thanks for the offer and maybe next time. 

Ciao
« Last Edit: November 27, 2021, 03:15:30 AM by Sean_A »
New plays planned for 2022: Erewash, St Pats, The Loop x2, Arcadia Bluffs South, Lawsonia Links, Shoreacres, Culver Academies, Meadowbrook, Dunes Club & Crystal Downs

Paul Gray

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2014, 06:25:41 PM »
No dilemma, Adrian. As I keep harping on about, it's McDonald's vs good food. People tend to prefer good food once they get it but it isn't an instant hit.  ;D
There is no right or wrong, you like what you like and others prefer something different. The problem (if it is a problem) is that the best players play on 7000 yard + golf courses, the best golf tournaments are played on narrow fairways....that is the elite part of the game, the game of golf to 95% is hitting it straight is good, miss the fairway it should be a form of penalty. Strategic golf hardly exists for the best players. Perhaps it is two different games but the trouble is the customer wants to play the same form as the top players and by default in the eyes of many anything less than 6000 yards is crap. Roller coaster greens are mickey mouse to many.

Adrian,

Exactly, I agree 100%, +1 and all rest of it. I've been talking about the very real possibility, as I see it at least, that we are seeing two different games emerging. I hope not but then that depends on, I would suggest, how mainstream minimalist principles become over the next 10 or so years.

If all the advertising is all about Ronald McDonald, that's what the masses will buy. More Pinehurst, RM and broader acceptance of firm, fast and wide and we may see the masses move our way. If not, Prestwick, let's say, and the average golfer become ever more disconnected.
In the places where golf cuts through pretension and elitism, it thrives and will continue to thrive because the simple virtues of the game and its attendant culture are allowed to be most apparent. - Tim Gavrich

Adrian_Stiff

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #18 on: November 01, 2014, 06:50:31 PM »
Thanks all

Adrian

You have really hit a happy medium between a bit of funk, some movement in greens, some straight forwards shots, some deception, plenty of space to give the golfer confidence and enough rope to hang himself - all without going ott.  The Orange is most definitely a keeper. 

The sun was in the wrong spot to bother with a photo for #5, but the tee shot is an excellent example of making folks think.  Sure, the flat bellies just bomb it oe'r the top, but that is life...you can't get every hole right for every class of golfer...and to be honest I am not sure that is even desirable.  I wanted to drop balls in different parts of the fairway and see how the approach plays out.  I think going straight over the bunkers and staying on grass is the best angle simple because there is a rise in the first half of the green which I think will shove left or right approaches away from the centre of the green...but I am not certain.  Yes there are a few greens where there is a best side to approach from or the green is angled against, the 1st and 5th of the Orange also the 23rd/5th on the Blue, the tease was to get the fool/golfer to cut the corner of the dogleg but from that angle the green is falling away, best place to attack this green from is centre or deep part of the fairway, but its a hole you need to learn. The 3rd of the blue has excellent options from the tee. We did get a fair bit of contour into the greens on the blue, 9th in particular. Marc H was the head greenkeeper at CP, the 4th hole on the Orange is pretty much his hole, he took some principles from Birkdale's 12th, the 4th hole came out of a mistake, whereby too much landfill was put in the wrong place so we kinda changed the routing, making that hole and losing another and it worked out for the better.

I did talk to a member about the Orange and he said he didn't like it as much as the other 9s because of the wind.  I also asked about the island green being built near the club drive.  He said that would be part of an academy course!  I am not sure that is wise, but I think having the hole along the club drive is very clever marketing. 

Marc

Sorry I didn't contact you.  I didn't realize you were a member.  Also, stops on the Winter Tour are easily cancelled if the weather looks at all dodgy...so I tend to stick with like-minded golfers for these affairs...I don't try to convert anyone!  Thanks for the offer and maybe next time. 

Ciao
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Ben Stephens

  • Karma: +0/-0
Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2014, 07:58:11 AM »
Sean,

Why don't you come over to Henley to see the work that Adrian and I are doing under SAS Golf Design at Greys Green

Be good to have an Arble winter tour seeing a course under construction rather than playing it :)

Cheers
Ben

Sean_A

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2014, 11:39:32 AM »
Ben

Henley!  You know what I am doing if I happen by Henley (on Thames I presume)! 

Looking at the CG for best 9 holers, I think the Orange fits in well.  It certainly is better than North Berwick's Children's Course  :o

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

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2014, 12:38:27 PM »
Saw this binged it link thingy on the Enville thread and it looks mighty impressive and up to date so here's an ariel of Cumberwell's Orange nine.


http://binged.it/1F4FSOO

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2014, 04:54:40 PM »
http://philinglis.photoshelter.com

Phil has taken some great pics of Cumberwell you get a much better idea of the view from the ground plus his site you can spend hours on. I don't know why these are not on their web site.

If you click on Galleries then look at English courses; Cumberwell run from 36 to 61...really worth an hour to run through the lot to be honest, Westward Ho!, Saunton, Enodoc, Bowood, Windemere, St Annes, lots others too.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2014, 05:40:10 PM by Adrian_Stiff »
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2014, 09:28:53 PM »
They are impressive pictures Adrian.

Marc Haring

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Re: 2014-15 Winter Tour: CUMBERWELL PARK
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2014, 10:54:19 AM »
Just bumped this thread only because i managed to locate some older pictures I had of the 'Orange'.


This hole two from the back of the green showing the little kick plate at the front  that can be utilised to good effect. There is a back tee located the other side of the little path that stretches things to over 200 yards. There are a number of these tees that often give a quite different challenge and angles. These are used by Sean's so called flat bellies. ;)



Back of green three showing Adrian's despised redan slope. Personally I love this hole especially when F&F.


This is the 4th a punchbowl green based on a well known short hole at a Open venue located in the region of Southport. The green extends back right behind the slope and mound on the right side.


In front of the tees on 5 showing the central hazards.


The approach shot from the tighter left side of the fairway. The fairway is about 100 yards wide at one point.


And from the right side. There is a prominent little swale cutting into the right of the green which can't be seen from the picture but it all helps to reward the brave tee shot.


We had a lot of fun building and designing the course and fair play to the owners who went with it. It was a huge change to everything else at Cumberwell and quite a venture for them. Sure it's a long way from the quality of Castle Stuart etc but for a low budget provincial course, it's worked out quite nicely.

« Last Edit: December 15, 2014, 10:56:12 AM by Marc Haring »

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