Sandwiched between the Lakeland Fells and North Pennines is the small town of Appleby which is well known for its Traveller & Gypsy Horse Trading Fair held every June. Running through town is the River Eden for which the valley is aptly named for this area of Cumbria is Godís country if not Godís Garden. The local golf club is a few miles to the southeast, on Brackenber Moor. The club was founded in 1894 and after moving sites the Willie Fernie designed course was opened in 1903. Similar to Cleeve Cloud, the course is open to all sorts of human and animal activity. However, the similarity one will notice the most is the vast, sprawling property. The views and golf seem to stretch for an eternity. It should be no surprise this hilly course is exposed to all the elements nature can muster. A glance at the card reveals a course under 6000 yards and without a par 5...refreshing! Unusually, from the daily tees there are only two holes over 400 yards. For those seeking a more testing challenge, the back tees feature seven holes over 400 yards. Yes, the short par 4 is highlighted at Appleby and they are a good group of holes even if there isnít a super star among them, but more on that later.
Willie Fernie won the 1883 Open at Musselburgh and had the misfortune to be runner-up on four occasions. Willie would eventually serve 37 years as the professional for Troon and had a hand in designing some high profile courses including Troon and Turnberry.
The opener is much like the remainder of the course. There is plenty to look at, but one gets the impression that all can't be seen...this is a common theme at Appleby. Playing uphill over a broken fairway, the hole turns left just about where a good drive will finish if downwind.
The second is a bit more testing, though not overly so. One of the sad aspects of many smaller courses dotted around the country is the demise of fairway bunkering. I don't think a single fairway bunker remains at Appleby.
Cutting severely uphill and legging left, the 3rd commences a grand stretch of golf which showcases the property extremely well. I should also point out the excellent use of scattered gorse for which the sole greenkeeper should be highly commended.
After a spot of climbing we face the dreaded drop-shot par 3. I say dreaded because this is not my favourite type of hole. However, Fernie's take on the theme is very good indeed! The one thing that is clear is that left is dead.
More evidence of lost bunkers.
Play is from the right. The reverse shelf (hanging on the hill rather than built into the hill) green is highly entertaining.
A look at the green and 5th tees from the 5th fairway. There are some very interesting shaping and earthworks at Appleby which are rudimentary, but visually engaging.
The 5th is named for George Ghyll, I know nothing about the man, but he must have been a good sort.
The safe drive up the left leaves a less than ideal line of approach. This is often the best sort of architecture, simple and effective.
More to follow.