Golf Course Review of Manchester Golf Club
Manchester Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: Golf on a big property
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.0
The Manchester Golf Club is routed over almost 300 acres of mostly moorland with touches of heathland and a sprinkle of park thrown in. Surrounded by scenic and far-reaching rural views it is a real delight to golf on the springy fairways of ‘Hopwood’ where shades of green meet hues of brown in an altogether attractive landscape.
Founded in 1882 The Club moved to its present site in 1912 when Harry Colt laid out the golf course over some seriously undulating terrain. In truth he probably had room to create two golf courses but it’s all the better for having just the 18 holes.
This is golf on a big scale sprawling across the Lancashire countryside. From the second tee you can see another golf course in the far distance and may initially wonder which one it may be. You eventually realise it is the same one you are playing such is the size of the estate!
Most holes at Manchester benefit from the spacious, rolling landscape as you are faced with welcoming drives and play to some wonderful green sites. The downside is that there a couple of awkward holes; a few blind drives and some steep uphill approaches, but these can be forgiven because the majority of the course is so very good.
In keeping with the surrounds, and now under the direction of a new head greenkeeper, the fairways are wide with graded rough but if you do stray too far from the straight and narrow you will be met with gnarly moorland grass, that coarse, wiry type which is so very hard to extract a golf ball from (if found) with any sort of control.
The bunkering, of which there is plenty, is clean and sharp, and if not wholly attractive, certainly unoffensive. It is also used generously; indeed I counted seven within 100-yards of the green on the second hole. But the size and number of them work well in helping frame the holes on what is an expansive environment. There are also a number of cross bunkers that need to be carried; I suspect these will come in to play more for shorter hitters on their second shots because a few of them couldn’t be reached with a driver and didn’t really come into play on the approaches although on my most recent visit I encountered the opposite wind to normal.
The front nine has a par of 37 and gradually works its way out across the moor although many of the holes are densely tree-lined. Incidentally, the back nine is par 35 and the total yardage 6,491 from the whites and a couple of hundred yards longer from the blues.
The 328-yard opener is a visually appealing hole as is the pretty par-three fourth but my favourite hole on the outward half is the classy eighth; a short hole of just 157-yards but exposed to the elements and sloping left-to-right with a trio of bunkers waiting for a leaked shot. If the hole is located towards the back right you can be suckered into foolishly going for it.
If the front nine is very good, and it is, then the back nine is excellent. The 10th is a beautiful hole which glides uphill and kick-starts a run of fine holes which doesn’t let up until you walk off the 17th. The short 13th is worth a special mention and is played over a valley to a squashed oval-shaped plateau green positioned at a slight angle. It has steep drop-offs on all sides bar the rear and finding the green is a rewarding experience.
There is an ‘outer loop’ that members can play where you jump onto the 15th tee from the ninth green but this would be a mistake because 10 through to 14 is arguably the best run on the course.
There were only a couple of things I wasn’t keen on at Manchester. The main one being that on such a large property there should really be no excuse for having internal out of bounds, but I spotted the dreaded white posts on a number of occasions. I suspect the one down the side of the sixth is due to health and safety (to avoid players coming up the seventh) whilst the one on the 11th is for pace of play issues (due to thick undergrowth down the left). Looking at the local rules on the scorecard I believe this could be a similar case at the 10th, 14th, 17th and 18th!
That aside and overall through Manchester is a splendid golf course, arguably within the top 100 in England, and is certainly worthy of higher recognition.
Club Website: www.mangc.co.uk
Tournaments: Open golf competitions at Manchester Golf Club.
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