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Club of the Month: Sherfield Oaks
VARIETY is very much the spice of life for members at Sherfield Oaks Golf Club.
Not only is the club the only one in north Hampshire to boast two separate 18-hole courses, but members also get access to 26 other courses in the Crown Golf group.
Variety is also the word that comes to mind when describing the two courses at the club, which offer very different tests.
The Waterloo Course may be the shorter of the two at 5,841 yards – but don’t let that fool you into thinking that a low score is a certainty.
You’re lulled into a false sense of security by the first four holes, which are quite open, allowing you to hit a couple of bad shots as you get into your round.
Your first wake-up call comes at the par-three fifth, which requires a nerve shredding tee-shot over water, while the course really begins to bare its teeth at the ninth.
It’s a great hole that requires a good tee shot if you are going to carry a deep ditch just in front of the green with your second shot.
If you are on for a good score at the turn, it’s time to hold on as the next five holes are very difficult. All of them reward accuracy, with players often having to think one shot ahead if they are to reach the green in regulation.
The course lets up a little bit after this but the last is a real tester. It’s a dog-leg left, with trees cutting off the potential short cut and a pair of good shots needed to reach the green in two, avoiding a ditch, pond and several bunkers.
By contrast, the Wellington begins with a couple of tight holes before giving players a chance to get out the driver and open their shoulders.
What it maybe lacks in variety of hole, it makes up for in exhilaration if you’re playing well off the tee. In truth, you need to be to secure a good score as five of the par-fours measure more than 380 yards, while all four par-fives are more than 500 yards long.
Stand-out holes are the seventh and eighth, which require approach shots over a pond, and the 17th, a very tough par-three measuring 189 yards with water in play down the left.
If I had to choose a favourite, I’d probably plump for the more varied Waterloo Course, which has its open sections but also a number of holes where any wayward shot is harshly punished. Having said that, there’s no better feeling than spanking a drive way off down the fairway, which the Wellington Course gives you ample opportunity to do.
As a relative newcomer to the local golfing scene, Sherfield Oaks is free from much of the stuffiness that can be off-putting to beginners and younger players.
The result is a thriving junior section that has produced two players, Jack Owen and Aimee Paterson, who have taken up golf scholarships at American universities.
General manager Tom Brooke said: “Our motto is the traditions of golf with a modern approach. We have a dress code, but it’s not onerous because we want the facilities to be open to all.”
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