Note – It is about time I started writing about these again. We haven’t played as much this year and I failed to note all of the dates of the games we have played. I remember this was our second round of 2012, we played a warm-up game earlier in March (after the endless wind and rain had died down) however I can’t write about it now as I’m not sure which scorecard to look at!
Woodbury Park Hotel & Golf Course near Exeter was formerly owned by Nigel Mansell, and it still contains his museum and much of his branding. His helmet design is still used on all of the logos and even the flags at each hole are chequered!
As well as a hotel, restaurant, bars, a leisure centre with swimming pool, gym and all sorts of other amenities, the site has two golf courses. One is the full size 18 hole ‘The Oaks’ course and I have to say what I saw of it looked pristine, one of the best courses I’ve laid eyes on personally! Since it hosts a round of the PGA Seniors it is no surprise that it is good condition. However you need to have a handicap to play there, something neither Dad or I can claim.
The other course is ‘The Acorns’, a 9 hole course which while still in great condition was maybe more the sort of course we’re used to playing – smaller, the grass perhaps not so finely cut back, which meant it was still enough of a challenge to remain interesting – being a 9 hole course I was worried it would be easy, but you don’t need to worry! Despite being the ‘second’ course it still provides amazing views across a vast stretch of Devon including Exeter itself away in the distance with the hills of Dartmoor visible beyond, so if you do visit with the aim of playing The Oaks don’t write off a visit to The Acorns as well.
More of a Day Out
I wanted to come here because of the Mansell connection, Dad wanted to have a look both for that and for work reasons with a view to hosting clients there. He needed a reason to check it out and March 19th was my birthday, so it was set! Those work reasons gave us the fantastic opportunity to visit the museum, which is something you have to book by appointment. You can see a few photos at my other blog.
We followed that up with a visit to the restaurant for a light lunch (the fish goujons were fantastic.. the pint wasn’t too bad either!) before hitting The Acorns for a round.
The way the course is set up, despite being 9-holes you could play it twice for a full round of 18 and still get a different game on the back 9. Each hole was provided with two sets of tees, so although the 10th hole is a replay of the 1st hole it is actually longer because you start further back on the second visit. On another of the holes you start 50 yards back! It works out roughly even as other holes are shorter, so the ‘front’ is 2297yds and the ‘back’ is 2285.
We’d agreed to play the first nine then see if there was time to finish the full game, but since we started late after the tour and the meal and then played slowly (and were held up by a party of 4 for a bit), time constraints and prior plans for the evening meant we finished the 9 holes and retired to the bar for another pint (hey it was my birthday!) before heading on.
I really enjoyed the whole day. Actually the golf seemed almost incidental to visiting the museum and having lunch and a pint or two. Partly this was because those were enjoyable things to do, partly it was due to being out of practice at the game so didn’t post particularly representative scores, and maybe partly the beer!
On our ten-shot handicap it was a win for me by a single shot.
The first two holes were great, a brand new course to me and I scored a 5 and a 4, just a shot over par on each which matched my usual target. I didn’t get the hang of the 3rd and 4th holes, actually neither of us did. A 13 and 10 is horrifically bad, especially when the 3rd hole was just a long open blast which should easily be reached in 3 or 4 at worst, then a 2 putt for say a 6 or 7 at my current standard on a 437yd hole. I remember trying to hit the 5-wood and not getting it, so switched to the irons to get the ball into the air.. and that didn’t work either! It was worse on the next one, to take ten shots on a 175yd par-3 hole is ridiculous – though it must be said the pond with the trees was most unhelpful!
The strange thing about golf is you can be playing perfectly well and then suddenly it goes wrong and you can’t get it back, it messes with your head. You think you correct the error, go back to repeating what you were doing earlier when it was fine, yet for some reason it doesn’t work this time and you keep hitting the ground or the top of the ball. Strange game. This happened in this game which is why I registered two 8s and a 7, but I wasn’t the only one to hit problems.
Dad fared better, 55 was over his usual but a good score when neither of us knew which way the course went.
Four of the holes are quite steep uphill, it takes it out of you if you’ve not played regularly for a few months I can tell you. This was a factor in deciding not to carry on and hitting the bar instead!
I would like to return to this course one day to do the full 18 and see what the differences are in tee positions. You never know, one day I might have a handicap and be able to play on the big course.