An insider's guide to Close House and the British Masters
1st, par 4, 398 yards
You’re usually well into your round by the time you get here as this normally plays as the fifth for members and guests. Even with the new tee that’s been put in, adding 30 yards, it’s a fairly gentle introduction to the British Masters – as long as you find the fairway.
A hazard running across the right and some strategically placed bunkers can trap anyone showing some first tee nerves. The hole gradually rolls uphill to a green that’s set into a hill.
Really, though, if you’re in the middle of the fairway for your approach, a par is the worst result you’re going to want.
2nd, par 4, 445 yards
Don’t be tricked by the wall on the left hand side, there’s much more room over that than you’d think from off the tee.
The second shot is one of the best on the course, with the wall leading down and forming a tight barrier to the left and behind the green. The cavernous bunker that sits on the front right corner of the green has ruined many of my scorecards.
3rd, par 4, 483 yards
We play this as a par 5 but it’s going to be a bruising four for the pros. Spare a thought for the caddies, too, as this is pretty much straight uphill and will leave the fittest out of breath.
It’s a simple hole for us, but the cross bunkers that litter the layout will catch some out. Then you need a bit of luck. If you’re stuck in the face, it’s almost a penalty shot.
4th, par 4, 447 yards
I get dizzy here, and not just because I’m knackered after trekking up the third. It’s a split fairway, with a layer of rough separating the two.
I tend to favour the left hand side but that does leave a longer shot into a green that’s among the more contoured on the course. A hazard also sits just in front and three bunkers make a par difficult if you’re unfortunate enough to find one.
5th, par 3, 206 yards
Now we’re talking. This is a proper golf hole, almost entirely over water, to a green that’s narrow and mushroom shaped.
So not only do you have to make sure you don’t get wet, you’ve got to try and hold the putting surface or face a very slick chip coming back.
It’s unlikely they’ll play it from this length at the British Masters but it’ll sort the field out if they do.
6th, par 5, 497 yards
If you thought the third was a test of the lungs, wait until you start lugging your equipment up this monster. It is savage.
The steep incline affects your distance off the tee, bringing a nasty little bunker on the left into play. The green’s on the top of a ridge and it’s not as big as you think – meaning you’ve got to be accurate with an approach.
7th, par 4, 399 yards
You can bask in some wonderful views of the Tyne Valley from the green but you’ve got to get there intact first.
The tee shot is very tight, with only a narrow opening between two sets of trees – and some really rough stuff on either side.
Don’t go right on the approach, nothing good can come from a shot that leaks over there. The green’s not the easiest, either, with some steep slopes.
8th, par 3, 198 yards
This is a lovely par 3, drawing heavily on the influences of Harry Colt, with swathes of fescue waiting to hamper anyone who doesn’t find the putting surface. Often played into a crosswind, it’s a wide green – and it was extended for this tournament to bring in some new pin positions. But it’s still hard to hit.
9th, par 4, 462 yards
What a view you get looking down towards the green from the elevated tee on one of the Colt’s signature holes.
If you can find the fairway, you’ve got a great chance of birdie but first you’ve got to avoid three large bunkers on the right of the fairway that seem to pull your ball like a magnet.
This hole could get really exciting if, as has been hinted, the tee positions are moved forward and the pros get the big stick out.
10th, par 3, 175 yards
Probably the prettiest hole on the course, with the green sitting just past a sharp dip and covered by trees on three sides.
A new bunker has gone in on the right but if anyone’s in there they should be thankful. What is beyond the two traps on that side isn’t worth thinking about.
Where the flag is will determine this hole’s difficulty. In the middle and it’s disappointing not to have a chance at a two. Make it tight and par will be a very valuable commodity.
11th, par 4, 373 yards
The tee shot here keeps me awake at night. The pond in front isn’t a problem, it’s how you get it through a speck of a chute onto the fairway.
The marker post appears to point you in the direction of a lot of cabbage and there isn’t much space on the right either. It’s terrifying for the amateur and it will definitely cause the professionals some consternation.
If you go anywhere left, reload. It’s dead. Even if you find the short stuff, the approach is not straightforward. I’m not sure if the bell close to the green is to signal players behind or to call for help. Take a four and run.
12th, par 4, 457 yards
The corridor of pines form the tee has an Augusta feel about it and this hole used to be a cinch – the fairway was massive.
Lee Westwood’s had a big input here, narrowing it down significantly and asking new questions off the tee.
The green is large. Finding it is not a problem. Getting it into the hole, meanwhile, with some very tricky fast putts down the green if you’re not in the right spot, is another matter entirely.
13th, par 5, 540 yards
Another new tee box has come in here to add yardage but McIlroy, Garcia and company will be very unhappy if there’s anything bigger than a four written onto the scorecard.
Those who play short should be able to bypass the trees on the left and go straight at the green. The bigger hitters will be past and playing across to a dancefloor where it’s better to be short than off the back.
14th, par 4, 443 yards
Usually the closing hole for general play, the key features here are the narrow stream that runs down the right and the ha-ha wall that guards the front of the green.
We could see some interesting shots for anyone who gets a little bit too close. A lake runs round the right side and comes out across the front but it really shouldn’t be a factor.
15th, par 4, 435 yards
Left is bad. Anything off the fairway is going to find some thick stuff as the ground slopes violently away and towards some trees.
The green can be hidden depending on where your ball lands, and how far back you are, and it’s a tough start if you’ve got a meaningful card in your hand and come to play here after the British Masters.
16th, par 4, 392 yards
This is a lot of fun. The tee is set right back in the furthest confines of the course and the fairway’s going to seem very small from back there.
New bunkers were put in to pose extra questions off the tee and they do that effectively. How you’ll recover if you find one depends on where in the face your ball comes to rest. The green is one of the Colt’s trickiest. Small and very undulating, nothing is a given.
17th, par 4, 350 yards
Another great birdie chance. Take the driver and, depending on the wind, there’s a real chance to drive it. Even with an iron, though, a fairway bound tee shot will not leave very much in.
The trouble comes if you go left into some thick fescue, or leak it right towards some troublesome bunkers and deep rough.
18th, par 3, 221 yards
It’s a brave call to finish a tournament with a par 3 but it could turn out to be an absolute masterstroke.
Firstly, the hospitality areas all down the left hand side of this brute of a hole, and the grandstand at the back of the green, will produce a real carnival atmosphere.
But, with the trophy on the line, this is going to be a really dramatic end to the British Masters. The wind makes it troublesome. It’s long enough already without it blowing into your face as well and some severe bunkers guard the green.
It’s a putting surface that slopes away from front to back. I don’t envy anyone having to tackle a pin position that’s either front or back.