Tadmarton Heath

Tadmarton Heath

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An absolutely delightful old school heathland, Tadmarton Heath Golf Club sits just above the town of Banbury, in Oxfordshire. I’d never been before – and what I found was exactly what I had hoped for but dared not to expect. Taddy, as the locals call it, is a shade under 6,000 yards even off the back tees (though a couple of new ones are currently under construction). However, the par of 69 includes just a solitary – and quite stunning – par-5.

That lone par-5 makes Taddy play a little longer than you might expect, but it certainly gives you a chance if you are prepared to risk the gorse and some severe bunkering, both of which defend the course very well.

Because the fairways are so firm and springy, a good drive will always be rewarded that little bit more. Factor in a bit of wind assistance and the big hitters might realistically have a tilt at as many as six of the par 4s.

They will have to be very accurate though if they are not to come to grief. Almost every hole is beautifully framed by the irregularly shaped bunkers, some of which have wonderful sleepered faces. There are also some very difficult par-4s here – especially the 4th, 9th, 12th, 13th and 17th.

My favourite hole however is not a par-4, and is the aforementioned par-5 5th. You drive to the crest of a very gentle slope, which seems to go on forever towards a green that is sneakily well bunkered. It won’t happen very often, but should you hit the right shot, it is possible to chase it on from miles short, threading its way between the bunkers.

With a generously wide fairway, and playing pretty much dead straight, it’s actually an untypical hole in some respects. It’s also pure.

I also loved the short par-4 8th, mainly on account of the simple perfection of the bunkering. The ground and hole both move from left to right, and you sense that if you land your drive in the right place there’s the chance of a very helpful bounce round the corner, the inside of which is inevitably protected by a bunker.

However, play too safely up the left and there is another hazard just waiting for your ball to trickle into. The green itself is fast, sloping and firm, which means you will have to judge your pitch skilfully.

You have to enjoy the sporty nature of so many of the holes at Tadmarton Heath. It always feels like a birdie might be around the corner, but so often the result of pushing too hard is a momentum-halting bogey – or worse.

A great example is the 295-yard 15th. The fairway is like an island in a sea of gorse so it is a brave golfer indeed who takes aim at the green.

Taddy is never less than interesting, and the turf here is fantastic both to walk on and to strike your iron shots off. I’d describe it as quintessentially English – with a pretty stone clubhouse at its centre.

 

Information

Cecil Hutchinson

01608 737278

Wigginton , Banbury , Oxfordshire , OX15 5HL