Coxmoor GC is tucked in the fold of the B6139 and A611 intersection, not more than a few miles north of much more famous near neighbour Notts GC. Its history, like many hundreds of courses, started as a 9 holer. The founding year was 1913, the very same which saw the US governmment first collect income tax and Canberra become the capital of Australia. The course went through a growing phase to 18 holes including an expansion across the B6139. When in 1934 the club successfully negotiated for more land on the clubhouse side of the B6139 they had no hesitation in engaging the long time pro of Hollinwell, Tom Williamson, to design a new 18 hole course. Mr Williamson is one of the great figures of English golf during the Golden Age, though these days he seems to be merely an interesting footnote of history. This is a great pity for Tom Williamson was truly a jack of all trades to do with golf. He achieved the great triple of serving as the pro for Notts for 50 years, playing in every Open from 1897 to 1947 and designing over 50 courses. He was also a noted club designer and was the first to number irons, though he worked the system ascending from the most lofted to the least lofted.
The new design achieved the understandable goal of having 18 holes on one side of the road. This turned out to be a huge benefit as the B6139 is today very busy with traffic. Mr Williamson also created a remarkable routing through some very tumultuous land that doesn't in the least tax the legs as many other hilly courses do. It isn't only a matter of short green to tee walks, the course also doesn't incorporate any overly uphill approaches on the two and three-shotters. Granted, just as most good architects would do, the course is eased by a few sharp downhill/uphill par 3s. While the quality of the 3s may suffer a bit because of this technique, the overall routing is a pleasure to walk and play.
The first is a portent of most of the round. Very wide fairways and hilly terrain. To combat the wide fairways many bunkers are very well placed to entice or scare golfers depending on one's PoV.
Williamson designed an extremely clever drop shot par 3 for the second. Even from this distance well in front of the tee one cannot see the precise location of the fronting bunkers in relation to the green.
In keen conditions all must challenge the bunkers to hold the green. In this photo the reader can see the dead ground hidden by the bunkers.
The par 5 third features the first of several blind drives. The green is reachable in two, but bunkers left and right may induce some to lay-up off the tee. The second is an attractive long approach.
Turning back on the third the next is a very short two-shotter which is a risky proposition for the aggressive player. A possible weakness of Coxmoor are its three drivable par 4s, none of which are a real temptation for the long hitter. The 5th is a tough down and upper, again with very well placed bunkers. #6 is a longer par 5, one of five at Coxmoor. Unfortunately, a blind ditch runs through the landing zone for second.
The short, severe drop shot 7th plays over the entrance to the club. It seems to me that a great opportunity for a double barreled green with the low barrel by water was missed.
The eighth is a knob to knob to knob par 4 very reminescent of many Ross holes.
#9 is a shortish par 4 snaking through a natural valley. A higher section on the left side of the green makes for interesting putting.
The back nine starts with a decent par 3; the green runs away and right. For some reason trees were planted in a most peculiar position.
Yet another shortish par 4 is featured. The 11th is a vexing hole due to the green location benched in the side of the hill. It seems prudent to keep well left off the tee, but then one can't use the hill as a back stop. Again, trees are placed around the green - robbing the hole of some of its aesthetic appeal.
The #1 handicap hole isn't long in length at 380ish yards, but similar to Rye's 4th, the fairway is a humpback affair. The green is not terribly generous in size either.
The use of hills at Coxmoor is what impressed me the most about the routing. Often times similar style holes continue to appear on many hilly layouts, but Coxmoor is extremely varied. The 13th seems like a valley hole, but after watching a drive run miles left toward the gathering bunker it is clear this isn't the case.
The green on this medium length par 5 is reachable in two, but one must challenge a right bunker and gorse further right of the green. The front left bunker is shaped in an interesting way more heading back up the fairway than around the green. This type of design leaves a nasty length bunker shot for the thoughtless bangers.
A short two-shotter playing toward a blind pond follows - the second such hazard and not clever.
#15 is the one truly outstanding drivable par 4. I think one has to be a fool to give this green a go from the tee, but at 290ish yards there are plenty of folks who will do just that. What makes this hole work is the awkward feeling golfers of any ability will get while standing on the tee as trees line the left side.
It seems few courses in the UK from the period of the Golden Age can avoid having one or two truly stinker holes. The 16th is a relatively non-descript par 5 which is not in character with the rest of the course due to its narrowness. Even if one scrapes past the trees on the right he will more likely than not end up in the left rough having to hit around trees and dead at a fairway bunker. If successful, he is the rewarded with a blind approach. No, this isn't anything close to my idea of a good par 5. The par 3 17th transitions the course back up to the level of the clubhouse. Its a good hole requiring a very well judged tee shot. The green has an interesting hump on the left side.
The final hole is a longish par 5 heading uphill for the tee shot. The green is very unusual for its length of approximately 60 yards.
I enjoy Coxmoor and certainly think it worthy of hidden gem status. That said, there are several perplexing holes which detract from the over-all quality of the design. However, despite the road noise and lack of a really top notch hole I can't help but think this is just just a hair below the nearby, and very attractive Sherwood Forest. The routing is quite engaging with especially good use of hllls and the greens are generally of interest even if often times subtle. As I was quite surprised to find the course a bit soggy despite very dry weather I cannot give Coxmoor an unqualified recommendation, but I will say the course is very worthwhile playing if one is nearby and can't play Notts. This little corner of Nottinghamshire is truly blessed to have Notts, Sherwood Forest and Coxmoor, three courses high in interest, so close in proximity.
Previous stops on the Tour.http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,37725.0.html
The Old Coursehttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50086.0.html
The New Coursehttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,50078.0.html
The Castle Coursehttp://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,30926.0.html
Next scheduled stop: Little Aston