Torrey Pines Golf Course

Torrey Pines Golf Course

My first guest review! Charlotte is on a business trip in California and was lucky enough to play this very famous course that I’d never heard about.

Type of course? Iconic and jolly famous.

Pleasant staff? Yes, very.

Best hole? The third. A beautiful par 3 that you need to be bold with because you know you probably aren’t going to play it ever again. It’s a hole that has been photographed many times.

Après golf? A toasted Ruben sandwich that had a lot of cheese, with fries, in the Lodge. Sitting outside, looking down the first hole towards the ocean with paragliders was a lovely way to end the round.

Nice round? Lovely. I joined a three ball, none of whom knew each other. One local who has been playing the course for over 30 years, a lovely chap called Mark from Michigan on holiday in California and a local Californian who has a low handicap but doesn’t get to play much at the moment. All three were charming and complimentary of good shots. They were also good at finding my ball, as it had a tendency to roll in the rough on almost all drives. I particularly enjoyed our local guide saying that the way the rough was cut (or not) at the moment added 6 shots to his round. It was very difficult to find balls and I’m sure a lot of people were annoyed by it.

Special memory? Lots. The excitement of the starter saying there was an available slot at 6:40am (I got there at 6:20am. Thank you jet lag). The relief of hitting a good tee shot on the 7th, where we started, as there was work going on around the first. The sun rising quickly and warming everything up. Seeing the ocean at the end of an immaculate fairway. My first par, 8 holes in. Finally getting the feel of my hired driver on the 6th (our 18th) and really connecting to finally leave a ball on the fairway. I could go on.

Must play again? If someone else would like to play and somehow get a reservation, then yes please. I’ll get on that 11 hour flight again.

Palheiro Golf

Palheiro Golf

Type of course? Hilly. So so hilly.

Pleasant staff? Yes.

Best hole? The 18th because if I tonked my drive, I was able to get on the green in two provided I avoided the bunkers on the right. I just needed one more round to make it happen!

Après golf? Delicious steak bolo de caco and coffee in the clubhouse with an amazing view over Funchal.

Nice round? We had three rounds there and they were all fantastic, especially when we worked out that we should be playing off the blue tees, not the red. The red tees made the course shorter, but also narrower, and length has never been a problem for me, while general golfing skills are.

Special memory? Charlotte birdying the 13th par 3 in front of a small audience as two elderly Portuguese players let us go through. Nice touch. Also, my irons behaved themselves for the first time since I started golf. Hurrah! 

Must play again? I could play it every day and never get bored. Views, gorgeous flowers, beautiful trees and every single hole a delight. It’s in my top 3.

Club de golfe de Santo da Serra

Club de golfe de Santo da Serra

Type of course? As hilly as Madeira. There are three 9 hole courses. Two tough hilly ones and one easier, flat one. We climbed a mountain the day before and were both hobbling on very sore legs, so we picked the two tough, hilly ones.

Pleasant staff? Very welcoming and all spoke English.

Best hole? The 4th par 3 on the Machico course. The fairway hugs a curved chasm on the left and the green is right at the end, on the edge of the cliff. The views over Porto Santo and Cais do Sardinha are stunning.

Après golf?  A delicious black scabbard sandwich, ordered because I wanted to know what black scabbard was. It’s a fish.

Nice round? Excellent, as I played well and won the first leg of our four leg competition on Madeira. We had the course pretty much to ourselves, the weather was lovely and warm and the course was good fun.

Special memory? Almost birdying the 18th after hitting a lovely 3 wood two feet from the pin with my second shot.

Must play again? There isn’t that much choice on Madeira, but the €110 green fee is a bit hard to swallow, especially as female players seem to be an afterthought on this Championship course. All the signs, bins and ball cleaners are by the men’s tees. Not unusual in the world of golf, but still.

Colchester Golf Club

Colchester Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland

Pleasant staff? Yes

Best hole? None stood out

Après golf? Mediocre nachos for me, mediocre egg and salmon sandwich for Charlotte

Nice round? We were both very disappointed by the course. At £47 a round (even though we only played £26 thanks to the James Braid discount), we had high expectations. However, it was just a bit… meh. Completely unremarkable. And very noisy on the front 9 with the Asomething running alongside it.

Special memory? You know when the fourball ahead decides to let you through because they’re looking for a ball and there are only two of you, but then you completely fluff your shot and end up holding them up? Also, they’re four men, you’re two women, and you feel like you’re letting the sisterhood down by messing up in front of them? We didn’t do that. We both put our balls on the green from 170 yards and parred the hole. Very satisfying.

Must play again? No.

Bicester Golf Club

Bicester Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland.

Pleasant staff? Wonderful, all of them, especially the bar staff who always gave me two pieces of shortbread with coffee.

Best hole? The first two times I played the 17th, I hated it. It made me quite angry, in fact. Imagine a dogleg left that, unless you can drive 250 yards into the wind, gives you no other choice but to hit your second shot over a long row of HUGE, MASSIVE trees. We’re talking proper tall grown-up thick trees here. Not only do you have to hit your shot high enough to clear them, but you have to reach at least 160 yards to have any chance of being near the green. Oh and there are big bunkers in front of the green if you’re a bit short. Basically, it doesn’t give your amateur golfer a fair chance of parring and forces you to chip on to get on the green in 3 (BORING). That was until I decided to take on the trees on the third day and landed my ball just off the edge of the far side of the green. That’s when it became my favourite hole.

Après golf? Very nice bar with a pool table and massive screens showing football and golf. Heaven.

Nice round? 3.5 rounds, as it was our women’s section Autumn break. I loved every round. The course is very diverse and interesting, with a couple of fun risk/reward holes (14th and 15th).

Special memory? Too many to choose from, but hearing the story of Judy’s trolley careering into a pond told many many times and the blatant cheating during evening games do stand out.

Must play again? Yes, it’s a fun course – although it’s probably much more challenging in the winter, when all the ditches are filled with water.

Hollingbury Park Golf Course

Hollingbury Park Golf Course

Type of course? Downland.

Pleasant staff? Yes.

Best hole? I liked the 12th because I love risk/reward holes. It’s a short par 4, so the driver isn’t needed, especially as the entrance to the green is very narrow. There are trees on the right if you’re short, rough on the left if you stray a little bit and a bunker to collect your ball on the right if it catches the slope instead of going dead straight. It makes much more sense to pick a short club and settle for an easy chip onto the green. Anyway, I took my driver and ended in the bunker on the right.

Après golf? Had to rush back to work, sadly.

Nice round? Excellent. It was a practice round with Jan in preparation for the South Downs Trophy. The course was lovely and green, the pace of play was perfect and the views over Brighton and the Downs were gorgeous. Sadly I didn’t see my friend Chewy, a regular visitor here (see photo below).

Special memory? Feeling a bit downtrodden after scoring 8 points on the front 9 in front of my team captain and fearing she might dump me for the competition, only to score 23 points on the back 9. Three bogeys, five pars, one birdie. Stupid game.

Must play again? Yes. Its tee boxes need some TLC, but it’s a really great course.

Update: the practice round worked! We won the South Downs Trophy for the third year running! Jan (first left) had the best score of the day with nett 69! All down to me I reckon.