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Thomas Dai

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STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« on: July 07, 2014, 01:27:19 PM »
Stinchcombe Hill GC has been mentioned in passing herein a few times. The club is 125 yrs old this year and is located on a flat-top plateau high above the small town of Dursley in Gloucestershire. The sides of the plateau are steep, a sign on the way up says the very narrow road is a "20% gradient".

The course sits right on the western edge of the Cotswold escarpment, one of several courses, including Broadway, Cleeve Cloud, Cotswold Hills, Painswick and Minchinhampton Old (& New) that either sit on or close to the edge of the escarpment. Like these other courses Stinch' also has numerous public footpaths crossing it, including in Stinch's case the Cotswold Way.

Below - England's green and pleasant land - the view from the escarpment, which is about 700 ft high, looking west or south west. This is the kind of view you can see from several points on the course.


Here is a Bingmap satellite extract of the course - http://binged.it/1BebW2G - zoom in and out as you wish.

The course comprises 5 par-3's, 4 of which are very short, and only 1 par-5, the 18th which is short too, so the overall distance is under 6,000 yds.

The 1st hole is only 275 yrs and plays over a road and a slight saddle. There is a marker post in the middle of the fairway.

So 1st hole only 275 yds, ha, ha! First shot of the day, who cares, let's get the driver out and give it a rip! Well, you can if you so wish, but Stinch' has a sting in it's tail, and a very tall, thick tail it is too - the rough. And it is real rough too, no pussyfooting around, this rough is hay, and it's high and because of SSSI regulations and skylarks and the like, the club arn't allowed to cut the rough until August of each year.

The 'first cut' is also somewhat higher than normal for the UK, a bit of an effort to dig it out even from the first cut. Basically, the ball only rolls if you land it on the fairway and part-shots to the green won't spin much from the 'first cut', even with Vokeys and ProV1's.

If you are in the thick rough, hacking out isn't that difficult if you have a bit of strength and technique. Take a short iron or wedge, open the face to counteract the long grass wrapping around the head and wack down on it. The hard part is finding the ball in the thick rough in the first place..

Here are views from the 1st tee, looking back from the 1st fairway, of the 'first cut' and the rough, of the green, which is very long and thin and slopes down from front to rear.





More to follow when Photobucket decides to work a little quicker.

atb
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 02:53:19 PM by Thomas Dai »

Thomas Dai

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2014, 04:07:48 AM »
It rained off-and-on for a few holes so not many photos of the first few holes the left side of which on holes 2, 4, 5 and 6 hug the side of the escarpment very closely, extremely closely in places. Hookers hell, faders delight! The saving grace is the rough though. Go left, except extremely left, and the 'first cut' should hold your ball back from going over the escarpments edge and into oblivion.

Below is from the fairway on the 420 yd par-4 2nd hole bending around the escarpment to the left. To the right? Yip, you guested it, the hay! The second photo is the second green with views in the background and a black cloud coming in above. Miss the green left and you're over the edge.



and below is the green on the 430 yd par-4 3rd hole with the 200 yd par-3 4th hole in the background. The 3rd hole, uphill and tough, is a bit bland, and the 4th, well looks can be deceptive, this hole is not as easy as it first appears.



We now, below, come to the 5th. A 375 par-4 bending tight left around the escarpment to a green benched into a hill. Not much more to be said really, the photo says it all. Rather nice hole. This photo is from about 130 yds out. Don't be short, don't go left!


This below is the 6th hole, a tiny wee par-3 of only 130 yds played right along the edge of the escarpment to a small green. Not the easiest hole to photograph as it played uphill so this photo is from behind the green. There is a 'saving' bunker to the left of the hole so balls missing the green on that side may not roll down the escarpment.


The 7th hole, below, turns away from the escarpment. It's a 440 yds dog-leg left and has OB to the left. Internal OB is not usual but it's for safety reasons as the par-4 8th hole returns parallel in the opposite direction.

Here's a view from near the 7th tee with the 6th green to the right. Nice view across the whole property, hence the seat I guess.



and here below we have the approach shot to the 370 yd par-4 8th hole. The photo doesn't really show the level of downhill rear-to-front slope on this green.


The 9th is a downhill 160 yd par-3, the 10th a 400 yd par-4, both holes have the escarpment to the left, and then it's the 11th, below, a 140 yd par-3. The routing changes angle at this point and the prevailing wind, which has been behind or from the left on most of the holes so far, now comes over the rise from the right as can be seen by the 'leaning' trees in the background.


More later

atb

Thomas Dai

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2014, 05:55:22 AM »
cont'd

The 330 yd par-4 12th is up over a saddle with a marker post and turns right to this quite narrow green. In the background is the 430 yd par-4 13th.


The 14th is an upsy-downsy par-4 of 350 yds and the 15th a nice short par-3 of 140 yds where the green slopes downwards from front to rear. This is the right side of the 15th green as photographed through the hay from the 14th fairway.


The 16th, below, is a slight up-n-down dog-leg 310 yd par-4 with a raised green. Attractive hole. The prevailing wind is against.


Here's the 16th green from the left side. The bunker sand is very course and seemingly mixed in with the native soil so quite 'stoney'.


Both the 17th, a 320 yd dog-leg par-4 with a raised green and footpath very close along the left side and the par-5 475 yd 18th, below, play downhill. A bit of a bland finish to be perfectly honest, the 18th would certainly be better IMO without the trees.


So there we go, that's a flavour of Stinchcombe Hill GC.

The hay is indeed everywhere, but not crazily so, and it frames the holes very nicely. The overall look kinda reminds me of Muirfield from the visual aspect - fairway, first cut and long, whispy hay moving gracefully in the wind.

I liked the courses routing too. It reminded me of Tom Doak's comment about Cruden bay - routed as if you were going for a walk - ie, out along the edge of the escarpment, turn around at the end and back over the open ground and down the hill to the clubhouse.

Is it award winning, championship calibre golf with sensational architecture? No. Is it thoroughly nice, gentle, serene members golf in a beautifully tranquil setting. Yes, very much so. Can the course bite your backside if you don't play smart? Yes, ambitious wild long hitters without course management beware! Is it in good condition? Yes, although it seemed like quite a bit of water was used on the greens - they were more 'lush' than 'firm and fast'. Crucially IMO, do they serve a splendid ham, egg and chips in the clubhouse? Yes! :) Is is worth visiting or targeting for an Open Competition if you're in the area? Yes, I would say so.

One aspect that I wasn't so keen on was the trees in the opens areas of the course. Quite a few had been planted in small batches. One set was obviously to protect a car-park, which I can understand, and some others were presumably for safety reasons in relation to footpaths etc, but I hope that general tree planting doesn't become addictive over the coming years, it would be a shame if it did, as the open aspect nature of the course is most delightful.

I'll finish with one last general view over the course looking south west from the 13th fairway towards the 5th green. The tower in the background is the 'Somerset Monument', built in 1846 to commemorate General Lord Edward Somerset. He was a son of the Duke of Beaufort, whose ancestral home is at nearby Badminton, where the famous horse trials are held, who had served with distinction at the Battle of Waterloo.


A lesser known course and club maybe, but thoroughly pleasant golf and a thoroughly pleasant place. Stinchcombe Hill, I liked it and am plotting a return visit.

atb
« Last Edit: July 08, 2014, 03:40:38 PM by Thomas Dai »

Robin_Hiseman

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2014, 04:19:49 PM »
Looks much more straightforward than the other Cotswold escarpment tracks.

Thanks for putting up the tour David. Although these tours don't generate the post replies that they deserve, they are the best thing on GCA.  I regularly use the search facility to find info on a new course and am always delighted to find a tour has been posted.
2023: Aberdovey, Liphook, Mill Ride (x9), Hillside, Lytham, Delamere Forest, Formby, Birkdale, Carya, Maxx Royal, Cleeve Hill, Sunny (Old & New), West Byfleet, Hoylake, East Berks, RSG, West Sussex, Hollinwell (x2), Alwoodley, JCB (x2), Beau Desert, Painswick (x2), Stranahan, Belfry (Brab & PGA)

Thomas Dai

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2014, 05:54:45 PM »
Thank you for your kind words Robin. You're spot on about the photo tours, a real highlight of GCA for me as well. Sometimes I wish the titles just referred to the course name though, that would make them easier to find on the search engine. I'm certainly enjoying the photo tour you've got going of Aberfoyle. So may interesting courses out there.

As to Stinch' itself, it is certainly more straightforward and less quirky than the other courses along the western side of the Cotswolds. I haven't (yet) played Cotswold Hills nor climbed up Cleeve but my rating of the older courses would place Minch' Old first. I'm not fussed what others reckon I just think it's great, as do the golf chums I've been there with. Painswick is just so different it's hard to classify, but it certainly shouldn't be missed. I hope your recent EGD day there went well. I'm not sure I could play Painswick regularly though. Broadway, lovely front-9 but lesser back-9. Stinch' is different. More manicured and less rustic than either Minch' Old or Painswick, or from photos Cleeve and overall certainly IMO better golf than the back-9 at Broadway. Some will probably disagree but I think the mega rough at Stinch' is terrific. So unusual to find these days, which makes a rather pleasant change, and it really frames the holes. The slightly thicker and wider than usual 'first cut' seems a good idea too, it keeps shots from rolling into the hay.

I can see how a smart thinking long hitter with modern equipment could make a terrific score at Stinch', but someone who is wild or has no concept of course management will probably have less ProV1's in their bag when he finished than when he teed-off. Stinch' to me is another example, and there must be dozens and dozens and dozens of perfectly fine members courses that have held there place in the game for decades but have now been brought down a peg by the modern generation of equipment. I'd like to experience hickories at Stinch', and quite few other courses of it's age.

atb


Sean_A

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 07:40:20 PM »
atb

Thanks.  Do you more pix of that wild shelf green hole?

Ciao
New plays planned for 2024: Fraserburgh, Turnberry, Isle of Harris, Askernish, Traigh, Iona, Tobermory, Portpatrick & Cruden Bay St Olaf

Tony_Muldoon

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2014, 02:01:25 AM »
Thanks Thomas, I've long been cruious.  It's an an odd place fo rme to get to and I so enjoyed Painswick, Minch Old and Cleeve (twice) that it doesn't seem to pull hard enought to pass up on one of those 3 again?  Will be interested in your thoughts once you've seen Cleeve Hill.
Let's make GCA grate again!

Thomas Dai

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 06:05:09 AM »
Sean,

Here are some more photos of the 375 yd par-4 5th at Stinchcombe (it's SI 7). The prevailing wind is from the left.

Firstly, below, taken from in front of and to the right of the yellow tees.

Secondly, as posted before/above

Thirdly, closer

Fourthly, bit closer still

Fifthly, from the rear of the 12th green

Lastly, from over the back



Tony,

I find it hard not to agree with you.

If a golf enthusiast/architecture fan were to visit the area only once in their golfing lives and have time for only 1 round, it would probably have to be Painswick, assuming the individual is fit enough to walk/climb it, just for the crazy, quirkiness and downright uniqueness of the place.

Others might disagree with me but for someone with limited walking ability I'd place Minch' Old first. Stinch' would be lower on the list but is none the less, a thoroughly pleasant course/club to visit. Admittedly it has no eye-popping, leg aching Iron Age forts to climb up and over and no old quarry workings to hit across. It's just good honest, mellow, serene, gentle golf in beautiful scenery with easy walking.

atb

PS there's already a 'Doak scale', a 'Ciao scale', and probably a 'FBD scale'. I'm introducing an 'ATB scale'. It's a yes/no rating system based around whether or not ham, egg and chips is available in the clubhouse. 'Y' for obviously yes, 'N' is for no, and 'Y**' is if served with two fried eggs! :) ....and Stinch' gets Y**....!

Thomas Dai

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Re: STINCHCOMBE HILL GC - a flavour - with pix
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2018, 07:33:35 AM »
I made a return to Stinchcombe Hill recently and I'm glad I did.

The ground conditions were firm and fast and bouncy, the greens were very firm (and true) and the infamous rough, well it was 'up' and long and whispy and hosel grabbing if you made the mistake of playing into it.

It was also windy, although in no way severely so, and although Stinchcombe may on first appearances seem to play over a flat plateau it isn't flat at all....there is much more internal contour and movement than is obvious and being immediately on the edge of the Cotswolds the wind plays tricks coming from all sorts of directions over the numerous internal and external rises, which when coupled with firm, bouncy fairways can lead to some interesting outcomes.

Stinchcombe may not have the eccentricity and quirkiness of others nearby such as Painswick, Minch' Old and Cleeve, it's more manicured than them, but it has a wonderfully gentle and serene like atmosphere, delightful internal and external views, and the golf is of a higher quality than first appearances suggest.

I reckon Stinchcombe's a bit of a sleeper course, one that grows on you each time you play it and worth playing I'd say, especially during the main season (more so than in the winter). And the price point on the wallet is very modest too, even in the prime of summer.

There are some very fine course photos on the Clubs website - https://www.stinchcombehillgolfclub.com/course/

atb

PS - there is also a winter tour by Sean - see - http://www.golfclubatlas.com/forum/index.php/topic,60660.msg1438541.html#msg1438541

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