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Tony_Muldoon

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Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« on: September 03, 2007, 06:40:19 PM »
Another course that no oneís ever heard of except Mark Rowlinson.  Use the search facility on Heathland courses and time and again he singles out this one.  The course (but not the address) lies in Rutland in the East Midlands near Stamford. five miles form the A1.

The course goes back to 1911 and was originally a Colt/Alison design. However the Club gives the credit for todayís course mostly to Braid.  CK Cotton and martin Hawtree have added detail since the last war.

I played it the day after a pro am and I think I got the cunning pin positions. But maybe not, for as we shall see ĎThe heathí offers a mix of strong bunkering and great subtlety.  I was playing well and after 9 holes this bogey golfer had 3 parís and a birdie (on 6) but on other holes the wind, bunkers and subtle greens left me with 3 double and two triple bogeys!  

To cope with todayís ball distance the fairways have been severely narrowed and thatís one feature of the photos.  Unfortunately overdcast conditions do not make for detailed photography.

Contoured fairway angling away from you is typical of the deception at play here.

Bunkers above you are stil well short of green


2 is an early highlight. Regularly tee box angles are set up to add to the illusions going on.  (Note the discreet horseshoe tee markers Ė very cool.)

Rolling fairways a feature here


3 again the angle of the tee confuses you, the fairway is to the left

Looking up the hill. Thereís many of these grassy hollows on the course


4 like many fairways there is grass and bunkers to get the long hitters to club down. Second shot is across a valley to a green well below.

Lowest point of green is a Ďvalleyí across the middle. So most shots will run to the back of the green. Due to the fall you look back to, I completely underestimated the slope down at the front of the green.  So from the back I turned a green in regulation to a double bogey as two makeable putts mysteriously broke at the last minute.


5 Is the first PAR 3 and is then followed by this Par 5


7 I must play this one again - it beat me up.  A great hole.  This picture is taken in front of the teeing ground and as you set up this bit of wildflower obscures your view.  All you are aware of is a pronounced fall from R to L across the fairway.  You certainly canít see that little gathering bunker on the left.  


After visiting the bunker I misjudged the approach where thereís a false front. Despite an excellent chip from here another putt slipped just past the hole.

Although the course looks entirely natural the green here has been built up



8 Only 320 yards, a bottleneck with the green behind the Birch trees on the left.




9 with the wind coming in from the right I managed to curl one around the bunker. Only 3í, surely a cert for another birdie Ė forget it.


10 once again a confusing angle. Just where do I hit it?

A closer look at one of the bands of grass across the fairway. This is not uncommon on Heathland tracks but is often used here.


11is another solid par 4. Weíre at the highest and flattest part of the course here.

12 Par 3.  Most of the greens appear large and flattish at first but they feature some of the subtlest breaks Iíve seen.  This one is 30 yards long, mostly sloping L to R but the backs of each bunker protrude a long way in, making the front part a sort of valley. The back left falls away, confusion is everywhere.


13 is an oddity. Ten of the twelve pars 4ís are less than 420 yards (6 under 395) but this one is flat and 481 yards long.
After my best drive of the day.


14 Unfortunately this picture is from the wrong place. On the tee the built up front edge of this hollow hides the entire fairway. Uncertainty is the name of the game.
 

15 the club is proud of its strong finish.


16 Once again distraction on the tee is provided by a clump of Gorse grown just for that purpose

The drive is up and over a ridge.


17 201 yards down hill

The only heather I saw on the course


Home


Final surprise, my pitch to this Par 5 green landed where I wanted and then ran on through!


Mark is of course right, this is an excellent course.  Itís a members club par excellence, and they are keeping it at just in 350 in total. They have a close affiliation with Nottís, Lindrick and Moortown and each club offers the other members courtesy of their course. Four top class courses for the price of one.

However I would say they have gone against some of the design ideas of Braid.  I realise itís been a wet summer but surely some of the grass might be a little brown?  Although there were no soggy patches I feel they are using lush grass growth to slow the ball down.  In the past they have also planted lots of trees, Hawthorn and the like. This cuts down the effects of wind (although I have to admit it does make it a more swirling and subtle foe which sits well with many of the other defences) on what is quite a high course. The grassy depression could do with more length to be a punishment.  Also the lack of heather is telling. Open it up to the wind and get the ball rollingon short grass and you have a true challenge with those bunkers and hollows.

I feel this course is already easily a top 100 in Britain but I canít find a single reference to it in books or Golf Worlds lists. IMO itís near the top of the second division of Heathland (parkland?) courses.   If the club has any desire to be recognised (and I have doubts they do) then they need to make moves to reinforce the Heathland characteristics and give us F&F in the summer.

Nevertheless highly recommended.  Truly a hidden gem. Thanks Mark.

Thereís a rather good website too, that gives details of the excellent discount they offer after 4 pm.

http://www.luffenhamheath.co.uk/

« Last Edit: September 03, 2007, 06:46:45 PM by Tony Muldoon »
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
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Darren_Kilfara

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Re:LHGC (Pictures)
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2007, 06:46:33 PM »
Tony, your Paul Turner impersonation is pretty convincing! :) Nice work on another English course that looks as though it could run rings around its Yankee equivalent.

Cheers,
Darren

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2007, 01:02:43 AM »
When playing I did ask myself why wasn't I feeling warmer to the course and I put it down to the conditioning and the lack of that Heathland look.   However they do seem to have produced a kind of Heath / Park cross and it took me a while to get used to it.

I did  however enjoy the golf.  I think the strength it isn the mid length Par 4's and I'll be back in the area next summer dying to have another go.

How long since you played? According to the website,  Hawtree sharpened up the bunkers and added 6 new about a decade ago.
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Mark Pearce

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2007, 04:44:03 AM »
I've always been slightly nervous about dsecribing my home course (The Northumberland) as heathland, as I feel it's lost a littleof that character and become a heath/park land cross.  Looking at your pictures of Luffenham, I'd feelhappier to describe Northumberland as heathland.  

Where's all the heather at Luffenham?  It looks like a nice course but, as you and Sean say, the conditioning looks all wrong and I don't like the narrow fairways or the fact that they've got rough in front of some of those grassy hollows, which might stop balls rolling in.
In July 2022 I will be riding 3 stages of the Tour de France,  in the Alps, to raise money for the William Wates Memorial Trust which is dedicated to providing opportunities for under privileged young adults.  To support the Trust, please visit https://fundraising.wwmt.org/fundraisers/MarkPearce/rid

Tommy_Naccarato

Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2007, 05:12:44 AM »
Tony,
Do you think some of those grass bunkers may have been sand filled at one time? There certainly seems to be a lot of them.

I'm with Darren on this. Why is it that our American counterparts don't have holes like this?

« Last Edit: September 04, 2007, 05:13:59 AM by Tommy Naccarato »

Mark_Rowlinson

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2007, 02:14:25 PM »
Tony, I have a few colour slides (remember them?) taken at Luffenham Heath some years ago.  It was certainly brown then. I'll send them to you.  I can't use my slide scanner at the moment as my old pc (which will accept input from it) is up the creek.

I can quite imagine why it isn't F and F - nothing round here is anything other than a meadow this year. I don't understand the narrowing of the fairways, but they seem to be doing it round here - obviously the latest green-keeping wheeze. Wilmslow, my local, has reduced its fairway widths by at least 25%. Can't understand why when most of the members are mature, recreational golfers.

M.

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2007, 04:27:59 PM »
I am new to this forum, I used to be a member of Luffenham Heath while I was at Oakham School whose golf team and quite a few old schoolboys are members there.

I play there two or three times annually, over the last few year there have been a lot of changes, to counteract the 'changing game of golf' according to one of my old schoolmasters who is head of greens committee at LHGC. Therefore the 'blue' championship tees were added, I think the club are aiming to host the Brabazon trophy again.

There was a ruling by English Nature that any increase in the number of bunkers was not allowed therefore every new bunker that was added one had to be filled in. There was a great one on the 2nd in a large mound which was quite intimidating off the tee now filled in and replaced by a meagre bunker 50 yards further up on the left. Also the cross bunkers on 18 about 320 yards off the tee were filled in, they were cracking for overhit drives even I have been in them as well as forcing shorter hitters to carry them on their 2nd shots.

Over the years the fairways have been narrowed. I have often been punished by the course by being wayward that I have readjusted to a game plan of accuracy rather than power in the last few times I have played there.

The championship 3rd tee is ridiculous as it is sunken by about 5 to 8ft below and 20 to 30 yards behind the large combined white and yellow tee so any shot hit low will almost hit the tee bank in front. Also there have been a few rants from the older hierachy about long carries over the gorse on 3 and 7 which they can't carry!

Hole 8 was a good short par 4 now lengthened by 50 yards to a very undulating green which does not fit in with the other greens on the course.

Hole 15 is one of my favourite holes in golf. It plays a lot longer than its yardage being uphill and into the wind most of the times.

Generally the course is a well conditioned course all year round due to its sandy turf. The club have put sand up the bunker banks, in the past they were mostly grassed faces. I think there is too much sand in certain bunkers and I suspect they have changed the type of sand as it used to be very thin even in wet conditions now they are thick and heavier.

I still recommend this course as it is a hidden gem.

Ben

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2007, 04:51:54 PM »
Welcome Ben and thanks. Answering one of the Emperorís questions on your first post, a knowledgeable and auspicious start. ;)
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Andrew Mitchell

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2007, 07:57:03 AM »
Excellent photos Tony.

Luffenham Heath looks enticing.  How long did it take you to get there?  AA routefinder suggest 2 hrs 16 for me.  Maybe we could have a meet up next spring/summer?
2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2007, 09:55:53 AM »
Andrew MM (matchplay master) you're on.  Each August we have a family weekend in Peterborough 20 minutes away.  I will be in touch nearer the time.

Tony
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Andrew Mitchell

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2007, 10:58:30 AM »
Sounds good to me Tony.
2014 to date: not actually played anywhere yet!
Still to come: Hollins Hall; Ripon City; Shipley; Perranporth; St Enodoc

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2007, 03:42:02 PM »
[img]http://s241.photobucket.com/albums/ff203/bsdesign/?action=view&current=LuffenhamHeath2ndand18thcopy.jpg]

Here is a aerial photo of the 2nd hole and 18th hole taken about five years ago before the changes took place.

I had agreed with a old school teacher who is a good golfer that the only way to make the course longer was to restore the old 9th, 10th and 11th holes which were destroyed after World War 2. With those holes the course length was around 6300 to 6400 yards.

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2007, 03:46:04 PM »


2nd attempt!

Brent Hutto

Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2007, 03:47:46 PM »


Try this one...

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2007, 03:50:48 PM »
Thanks Brent,

I am new to this forum, how did you manage to upload it properly?

Ben

Brent Hutto

Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2007, 03:56:52 PM »
Ben,

You seem to have copied and pasted (^C ^V) the link that you used to access the picture. For me that link actually opens a web page with the image imbedded therein. That would have required using the URL and /URL tags (surrounded with [] of course) rather than the IMG and /IMG that you used.

So I opened that link, right-clicked the image itself and called up the Properties context menu. From that Properties menu I copied and pasted the URL for the image file itself, allowing use the IMG and /IMG tags (more desirable) rather than having to change it to point to the web page with imbedded image (small picture, more clutter).

Or something like that...

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #16 on: September 27, 2007, 04:27:11 PM »


Brent,

Copied and pasted from URL in properties and adding img + /img on either side hope it works this time!

Ben

Dear GCA,

This may interest you, I have roughly drawn up the old 9, 10 and 11th holes at Luffenham Heath from my memory from seeing an old plan above or near the bar in the clubhouse. I believe this would have give it a lot more breathing space for future expansion than the current layout.

I would be interested to see if the remains of the old 10th green exist in the triangular area.

I remember discussing it with my old school master and we agreed that the flow of the layout would have been much better with the old holes than the current ones in this particular area.

From faint memory I think a guy called Jeremy Pern was involved in the latest changes

Ben

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #17 on: September 27, 2007, 04:30:04 PM »


Apologies - this should be bigger now
I am getting the hang of this!

Ben

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2007, 04:36:07 PM »
Andrew MM (matchplay master) you're on.  Each August we have a family weekend in Peterborough 20 minutes away.  I will be in touch nearer the time.

Tony


Tony/Andrew

I suggest you also try the Normanton course at Rutland Water Golf Course. I designed the whole course which has been a work in progress for the past few years and for the next few years. The views are stunning the 9 hole addition to the older 9 only has been opened for 4 months. It has some of the wildest greens in the area!  

I will put up a few images of the course for you all to see soon on a new thread.

Ben

Tony_Muldoon

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2007, 05:59:36 PM »
Great stuff Ben.  Of course I did walk from 9 to the 13th tee before I realised.  Apart from the walk back to 10 the new holes seemed to fit well, even if they aren't as good as what they replaced.  The transition 12 to 13 is also a little awkward, was it always so long?
on 29th May I am riding 100 Miles to help raise funds for Dementia Research. All donations are welcome.
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ridelondon-tonymuldoon

Ben Stephens

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Re:Luffenham Heath GC (Pictures)
« Reply #20 on: September 27, 2007, 06:14:24 PM »
Great stuff Ben.  Of course I did walk from 9 to the 13th tee before I realised.  Apart from the walk back to 10 the new holes seemed to fit well, even if they aren't as good as what they replaced.  The transition 12 to 13 is also a little awkward, was it always so long?

Tony,

12 to 13 has always been like this for as long as I can remember (15 years). It is quite a long walk from green to tee. I usually leave my bag 100 yards away from the tee. Its is quite useful to be able to see the hole before going down to the tee in which is a mini blind shot because you cant see where the ball exactly finishes.

It has often happened with new visitors to go to the 13th tee from the 8th green rather than the 9th tee because the 13th tee is now much more visible than the 9th tee as there used to be big bushes where the new 8th green is now. I can remember because half of the time I hooked my drives in there!!

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