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.

Sweetwoods Park Golf Club

Sweetwoods Park Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland/Downland

Pleasant staff? Did their job

Best hole? I really liked the 18th. It’s a short par 4 with a tree in the middle of the fairway, which makes for a tricky drive, but the second shot is even trickier. The green is down the slope and is well protected by a couple of bunkers. The best way to come in is to float a ball above the bunkers and land it softly on the green so it catches the slope towards the pin. That was too risky as my ball was lying on a bare bit, so I aimed right of the bunkers, hoping my ball would bounce down towards the green. It didn’t. Still got a par thanks to a very good chip.

Après golf? A very good eggs royale before and a soft drink after with our friends on the lovely terrace in the sunshine. Very peaceful, so nice to be away from noisy roads.

Nice round? Good, solid golf and a proper catch up with my friends Hsien and Judith from Cuckfield GC. My meeting Judith is the subject of an ongoing controversy: I’m convinced I met her when I trounced her in a match on her own course, but her memory is clearly going a bit as she insists I never beat her and we met at an Open. Anyway, they’re both great fun and we always have a brilliant time together.

Special memory? The wildlife: a hairy deer scampering across the fairway, a huge heron gliding above us and loads of friendly fishes coming up to say hello when we walked past one of the ponds.

Must play again? Yes. It’s a varied, friendly course in gorgeous countryside. Oh and the Lady Captain came to chat to us, which added to the pleasantness of it all.

Nevill Golf Club

Nevill Golf Club

Type of course? Parkland

Pleasant staff? Really, really lovely golf pro. He couldn’t have made us feel more welcome.

Best hole? I really enjoyed every hole, but the 14th par 4 (SI 1 for women) was brilliant. I love an elevated green and the stream just before the green makes for an interesting second shot (I thought I’d keep things simple and went in the water).

Après golf? Another late round meant that we had to shoot off, but the clubhouse terrace was very inviting.

Nice round? Excellent. I do enjoy parkland courses after all! Every hole was different, the fairways were wide enough to accommodate my creative angles and every hole made you think.

Special memory? A magnificent 5 iron into the 12th green. Mostly because I was playing with an excellent golfer who I look up to and I think she was genuinely impressed!

Must play again? I would love to.