GSGB Meetings 2020 Course Details & Images

May 19th and 20th Seascale/Silloth on Solway

GSGB visit two of England's highest ranked courses for the first time

Seascale Web Site

Seascale Golf Club, five miles south of Whitehaven, fits neatly into a small area, overlooked by the Sellafield Power Station The course provides views of the Isle of Man and the Lakeland Hills in keeping with the popular 
perception of the beautiful county that is Cumbria on the North West Coast of England. Founded in 1893, the course covers less than a hundred acres without giving the impression of one hole encroaching on another. 

The links are the design of Willie Campbell and George Lowe. Whilst not long by modern standards, Seascale encompasses a varied terrain at different levels without testing the golfer's fitness. It rises on the 1st and continues down the inland side of the course. The 3rd provides the first panoramic view from a high tee, as the course continues northwards until the par five 7th turns in the opposite direction. The 8th is a long par three followed by the 9th, the only hole played directly towards the sea. Driving from a high tee, the line is straight at the Isle of Man. 

The more memorable holes are on the back nine, starting with the short par three 10th, where a stream provides a hazard, as it does again on
the 13th. In between are two par fours, one measuring 468 yards then a shorter two-shotter in the opposite direction. However, the real test is to come. The par four 16th measures 471 yards and has more defences than its mere length. The 17th tee overlooks the beach and the drive over a high hill requires accuracy for the ideal position for the long second shot into the green. 

The 18th is ten yards shorter than the penultimate hole at 334 yards and the main challenge here is the enormous, L-shaped green, where several pin positions can give the golfer one final problem – how do I get from the front, round a corner to the hole? 

The lasting impression is of having played eighteen holes of interest and variety.

Silloth on Solway   Web Site

At last, Silloth on Solway Golf Club’s reputation is becoming recognized more widely, thoroughly deserving its position in the GB&I Top 100 as one of England's best links courses.

Founded in 1892, with the help of Railway Company money, it was originally designed by Davy Grant (with a little help from Willie Park Junior). Silloth is famous for its affiliation with ladies' golf and the famous Leitch sisters learnt to play golf on the links. Charlotte Cecilia Pitcairn Leitch (or Cecil as she became known), went on to be the best lady golfer in the world, winning a record four British, five French, two English and one Canadian titles. In 1910, Cecil played a match against Harold Hilton (one of the greatest male golfers of the time) over 72 holes, 36 at Walton Heath and 36 at Sunningdale. Sportingly, Hilton gave Cecil nine shots per 18 holes and found himself five holes up in the last round, with the last 15 holes to play. Cecil, showing true grit, fought her way back and ended up winning on the 71st green 2 up and 1 to play. 

The club has parliamentary connections too. Viscount Willie Whitelaw was the President of the club until his death in 1999. 

You have to make an extra special effort to get to Silloth because it is located in one of the most remote and isolated places in England, at the mouth of the Solway Firth. When you arrive, it’s a surprise to see the nearby industry that slightly blots an otherwise perfect landscape. With heather and gorse adding brilliant splashes of seasonal colour, this is a cracking links golf course. When the wind blows, it’s unlikely that you will play to your handicap. Even on a calm day, you’ll find it tough. "It is also the home of the winds," wrote Darwin, "when I was there the wind did not blow really hard, but hard enough to make a fool of me." Finding the tight greens is no mean feat and when you do, they are tough to read with their subtle borrows. 

The playing conditions are usually world-class, the change in elevation offers glorious vistas, birdies chances are plentiful and the hospitality alone is worth the long drive to get there. After experiencing the best holes here it is hard to believe that this charming golf club still manages to exist in relative anonymity. 

June 22nd and 23rd Cirencester/Tewkesbury Park

An opportunity to visit the Cotswolds and our first visit to Tewkesbury Park

Cirencester  Web Site

Situated 2 miles outside of the ancient market town of Cirencester, in the heart of the Cotswolds, Cirencester Golf Club boasts glorious views towards the town and the Marlborough Downs beyond, as well as a rich variety of flora and fauna.
Golf was first played in Cirencester in 1893 when an area of old pastures in Sapperton was laid out as a golf course. However, as demand grew, upkeep costs were a challenge and transport to the site was difficult. So, a new venue was sought, which is the course we know and enjoy today.

The James Braid designed course opened in 1910 with an exhibition match between Braid himself and Harry Vardon (of the standard overlapping ‘Vardon’ grip fame). Braid’s local knowledge helped him to secure the bragging rights scoring  5 under the Bogey score – a course record at the time.

The course has stayed largely the same ever since, with the exception of 3 new holes, which were constructed in 1996 following the loss of land due to the bypass. Several bunkers have also been repositioned to take into account the greater distances that can be achieved with modern equipment.

The 18 holes are carefully tended by the dedicated green staff and set up to cater for all grades of golfer. The fairways and semi-rough are generous and the rough is fair. The small greens and 51 bunkers defend the course well – miss the green on the wrong side and you’ll be left with a testing chip shot. The greens generally provide a good mix of undulations and subtle interest (especially when you walk on the first green, which will test any putting stroke!).

The course sits on free-draining limestone which means the course can be kept open all year round (except when snow or lightning interfere) providing first-class surfaces all year round, 
all the way from the 1st tee to the 18th green.

Tewkesbury Park Web Site

The land on which the golf course was constructed was formerly a deer park until 1770 when Mary and John Wall built the house which became Tewkesbury Park - that's how the course came to be called The Deerpark.

Designed by the international golf course architect, Frank Pennink, and with recent consultancy advice from both Peter McEvoy – ex England Amateur Champion – and international agronomist John Clarkin, The Deerpark is a 6,554 yard, Par 72 golf course in a stunning parkland setting with panoramic views, water features, cross-cut fairways, mature trees including veteran oaks, and manicured greens in excellent condition.

The excellent on-site hotel combined with the quality of the course played a large part in Tewkesbury Park's inclusion in two separate Top 100 Golf Resorts in GB & Ireland rankings - from Golf World and National Club Golfer.

So whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, we’ll make sure that you feel right at home. If you’re staying with us, you’re also very welcome to have a go on The Acorn - our short academy course.

As the 14th-century proverb says, 'Great Oaks from Little Acorns grow'. One of the hallmarks of the land at Tewkesbury Park is the presence of ancient oak trees, and our Acorn course is often used for training and beginners. That's why we called it The Acorn.

Besides the golf course, the hotel is renowned for excellent standards of accommodation including individually designed luxury rooms in the 18th-century manor house. There are also six top-notch suites with beautiful bay windows, sumptuous furnishings, many with double-ended baths and bathroom TV's. 

July 21st and 22nd Carden Park (The AGM Meeting) Web Site

Two beautiful golf courses on our return to the heart of Cheshire 
Winner of England’s Best Golf Hotel at the World Golf Awards

The Nicklaus Course

The Golden Bear team of Jack and his son Steve worked their magic on Carden Park’s Nicklaus course and it opened for play in July 1998. It was quickly recognized by a leading golf magazine as one of the ten best new courses to have opened since 1996. 

The historic 17th century Carden Park estate occupies some 750 acres of prime Cheshire countryside and has become a golfing Mecca in the northwest of England; it’s worth a detour on the way to the links wonderland between Liverpool and Blackpool. 

So, what is it really like? Well, it's a tough golf course but then it would be, wouldn’t it, if Nicklaus had a hand in it, it was bound to be challenging. The park-like ground is not always conducive to all-weather golf, but the drainage has been installed well. 

The conditioning of the course is generally good and the holes are typically Nicklaus-like, pleasurable but eminently fair, everything is laid out clearly in front of you. 

There are two double fairways, there’s plenty of water and many strategically placed bunkers. Additionally, as is normal on Nicklaus courses, there are plenty of teeing areas, five in total. Consequently, it makes the course playable for golfers of all standards. Measuring a chunky 7,045 yards from the black tees to a leisurely 5,211 yards from the reds. 

In essence, the Nicklaus course at Carden Park is fun and it holds your interest very well. It isn’t the most inspiring piece of parkland in the world, but Nicklaus has made full use of the land that was readily available. Despite being in its relative infancy, the Nicklaus course at Carden Park has already played host to the PGA Seniors Tour on two occasions.

The Cheshire Course

The Cheshire course arguably has the most dramatic holes of any at Carden Park and offers many challenges along the way with natural hazards to test your golfing skills.

Situated at the back of the estate, the golf course has beautiful views across to the Welsh hills and beyond. The bunkers have been designed to flow with the natural contours of the landscape and you will need to be swinging well to keep out of them all!
If you have a competitive streak we recommend you take the longest drive from the 9th hole and nearest the pin at the 15th hole, a stunning downhill shot with a wooded backdrop.
This is the start of the famous finish on the Cheshire course. The 16th is a demanding uphill dogleg hole which also just happens to be narrow and treelined and the 17th is one of the best par 3's in the whole of Cheshire.

The 18th tee is set upon a cliff overlooking the estate and offers wonderful views of the 
excellent clubhouse in the distance

Many golfers actually prefer the Alan Higgins-designed Cheshire course to the more famous Nicklaus layout as it offers greater variety than its higher ranked sibling.

The hotel is excellent throughout and the brand new Spa opening in January 2020 will only enhance the experience for lady golfers in particular

August 26th and 27th Littlestone/Cooden Beach

Play one of Kent's best links courses before visiting Cooden Beach in East Sussex
Littlestone Web Site

Founded in 1888, Littlestone Golf Club is a remote classic links course, located on the fringe of the Romney Marshes, with the English Channel as the backdrop. 

The British Ladies’ Open was held at Littlestone six years after the course opened, which was originally designed by Laidlaw Purves, tweaked by James Braid at the turn of the 20th century and revised in the 1920s by Alister MacKenzie. 
Frank Pennink made some bunker modifications after the Second World War and Donald Steel and Peter Alliss advised on some minor changes in 2000. 

Littlestone is a hidden gem that plays across fairly flat links land, although it does have its own range of sand dunes. New Romney is one of the driest places in the British Isles; consequently, you will rarely need your waterproofs. The dry flat ground makes for some interesting tight lies but rarely will you be faced with awkward stances. 

The greens are true and fast making it difficult to hold the ball. There are no tricks here at Littlestone, everything is clearly in view from the tees (including a significant number of bunkers). You will need to be on top of your game to keep your score together especially if the wind blows and the last three holes are amongst the toughest around. 

The course possesses numerous good golf holes and Bernard Darwin painted a particularly colourful picture of the 11th in his book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles: “At the eleventh, there is one of those uncomfortable tee-shots, which are so excellent. There is a canal, a nasty insidious serpentine beast of a canal, which winds its way along the left-hand side of the course, and it is our duty, in order to gain distance, to hug it as close as we dare; yet if we show ourselves the least bit too affectionate towards it, this ungrateful canal will assuredly engulf our ball to our utter destruction.” 

Littlestone is a delightfully good golf course that always features in any English Top 100 list.

Cooden Beach Web Site

This clever Herbert Fowler design opened for play in 1912 and remains to this day a thoroughly engaging yet challenging test to all categories of player.

While the course measures a good 6,504 yards at its furthest, it offers a more sedate 6,185 yards from the yellow tee boxes, with five par three holes and a matching five par fives. Nine holes exceed 400 yards and present a different challenge from whichever tee you chose to play from. 

It provides an easy walking round of golf with gentle undulations and springy turf making play fun for all ages. The climb up the 9th hole takes you to the highest point of the course where you can take in the stunning views of the sea and the surrounding countryside.

Natural drainage is provided by internal and external dykes that border many of the holes but these also act as a magnet to errant shots that flirt with the changing coastal breezes which remain the true hazard. It is their unpredictability that makes it a different course every time it is played.

Following much careful and sensitive alteration, the Clubhouse now offers completely modernised changing and showering facilities for both men and ladies, a choice of two lounges where refreshments are available throughout the day, as well as a sumptuous Dining Room on the first floor affording a stunning panoramic view of the course across to distant Beachy Head.  

September 17th and 18th Hornsea/Ganton

We return to underrated Hornsea and Ganton, one of England's finest courses 

Hornsea Web Site

The course at Hornsea is a traditional links-style design, with the first seven holes running outward towards the iconic water tower. A double loop of five holes, brings the golfer to the famous inward stretch, possibly the finest six finishing holes in the county.

Being situated on the Yorkshire coast, the course has many features associated with links golf, including extensive gorse and wind-blasted thorn. The terrain is gently undulating parkland with extensive tree belts to shelter the golfer from the stiff breezes, which are commonplace at seaside courses.

Hornsea Golf Club was established as a members’ club in 1898 and moved to its present site in 1908. The original design of the current course, which opened in 1908, was by Alex (Sandy) Herd, Open Champion 1902. In 1912, Dr. Alister Mackenzie, the renowned golf architect from Leeds, who designed, among others, Alwoodley, Royal Melbourne, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach and most famously the Augusta National was brought in.
He made numerous recommendations for the course, particularly in relation to the greens. His approach was that greens should be visible to the approaching golfer and have undulating surfaces towards the back.
In 1925 James Braid, 5 times winner of the Open Championship was asked to take a look at the course and he proposed various alterations relating to bunkering.
The course is kept in a very good condition throughout the year and is rarely on temporary greens.
In 2010 the club engaged Howard Swan, the internationally renowned golf course architect, to make recommendations on the layout, as part of our ongoing course improvement plan. This plan is now part of the club's Course Policy and in recent years an extensive program of re-bunkering has taken place.

Ganton Web Site

To classify Ganton as a heathland course is a misnomer – one could just as easily categorize it as an inland links, as it’s situated in the rural Vale of Pickering, nine miles from the sea. This sandy, gently undulating site was once a North Sea inlet. Consequently, it has all the characteristics of a links and a heathland course. Either way, Ganton Golf Club is a perfect place to play golf. 

The Scarborough Golf Club (as it was originally called) opened for play in 1891, laid out by St Andrews’ Tom Chisholm. The great Harry Vardon became the club’s pro in 1896, the same year he won his first Open title at Muirfield. This immediately put Ganton on the map. In 1905, Ted Ray, along with James Braid, J.H. Taylor and Vardon implemented major alterations to the layout. Harry Colt, Alister MacKenzie, Tom Simpson and C.K. Cotton made further changes over the next 50 years. 

Ganton is surely one of the few inland courses in the British Isles good enough to hold an Open Championship. It would make a pleasant change to break with tradition and hold an Open somewhere inland. After all, Ganton is used to holding important competitions – it hosted the 1949 Ryder Cup, the 2000 Curtis Cup and the 2003 Walker Cup. 
03061310/GANTON GC, Yorkshire, UK/Photo Mark Newcombe

The bunkering is quite extraordinary and a real feature of the course. With over 100 cunningly placed bunkers, some of which are simply huge, both in breadth and in depth, whilst others are small. Only lucky (or very good golfers) will avoid the sand traps at Ganton. If you blend the Old course at Walton Heath (minus the road noise) with Woodhall Spa’s Hotchkin course and then throw in a touch of Muirfield (without the sea), you’ve got Ganton. 

Nearly 100 years ago, Bernard Darwin compared Ganton to being “a little like Woking, a little like Worplesdon; and generally speaking, it is the type of course that one would expect to find in Surrey rather than in Yorkshire.” 

Occupying open, windswept heathland, it’s a supreme thinking man’s (and woman’s) test of golf; the fast greens and firm fairways test the very best players.
Various types of thick gorse, heather and broom highlight the course during the spring and summer months. Three short par fours provide the opportunity of a game of risk and reward for the big hitters. A minor downside is the fact that there are only two par threes but the strength of the par fours more than compensates for this.
Ganton Golf Club played host to the 1949 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Great Britain. The team Captains were Ben Hogan (US) and Charles Whitcombe (GB). The U.S. Non-playing Captain Ben Hogan raised a concern about the grooves on the clubs of some British players. A meeting was called with R&A Rules Official, a certain Mr Bernard Darwin, who concurred that the clubs should be repaired to meet conforming standards. 

Despite the USA team being without three key players, Hogan’s side claimed victory after dominating the singles, USA 7 - GB 5. 

The course comments above are taken with permission from the website and the individual club websites. 

All photos are supplied by the relevant golf clubs and are shown with their permission.

Brian Ward