Golf Course Review of Reddish Vale Golf Club
Reddish Vale Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: A golf course that leaves you breathless in more ways than one
Our 5 Star Rating: 3.8
The golf course at Reddish Vale is one I would advise anybody to play. Not only is it one of the best value venues in the North West it is also one of the most interesting and entertaining.
Exciting terrain, great turf and some magnificent green locations place this course a clear level above most of its many neighbours in the Manchester suburbs and produces a round of golf that has several thrills and spills along the way.
The yardage is a modest 6,086 but the par of 69 has an SSS of 70 and with lots of natural hazards, including the River Tame, it is certainly no pushover. But a round here, on a course that lies third in seniority of all those built by the great Dr. Alister Mackenzie behind only Alwoodley and Moortown, is not so much about the score but the value of shots that must be played.
In particular the approaches into the greens are of a very high quality. All five of the short holes ask the golfer a different question. The second hole must be played over a ravine to a massive green whilst the penalty for missing the fourth to the left and the 12th to the right are severe. The 240-yard sixth is the longest of the quintet and drops 70-feet but the shortest, the fantastic 137-yard ninth, climbs to a green that feeds in from the right. As a collection they are nothing short of excellent.
The drives on the outward half (holes 1, 3, 5, 7 & 8) are less inspiring than those on the back-nine where there are some real crackers. Positioning your ball from the tee at the 10th, 13th and 14th is crucial in order to set up the best angle for your approach before the 15th asks you to try and clear a large ridge some 200-yards from the tee for the chance of going for this par five in two. The 16th ups the ante even further with a drive that challenges the golfer to try and bite off as much of the river as possible, where the green is protected by water at both sides as well as behind; a truly superb short par four.
That all said, the real enjoyment factor of Reddish Vale comes from the shots you play into the greens and those at the first and third are excellent albeit slightly similar in that they are played across large gullies but each to brilliantly sited greens.
Quite a few of the greens at the par fours and fives are raised slightly with subtle little drop-offs and undulations around them which make recovery shots interesting but not overly taxing. The main exception to this comes at the 13th, a glorious par four of 456-yards, where you must fire at a marker on a tree behind the green for the putting surface sits deep in a hidden dell. Missing this small target could present all sorts of possibilities for your chip shot and the green tilts a little more than the others to add to the many levels of complexity at this notable hole.
The 14th, at just 340-yards, has an elevated drive and tempts the golfer to swing away freely and try and get as close to the end target as possible but this green is narrow and strongly favours an approach from the left so placement, rather than power, is important here because additionally a trio of bunkers down the right defend any sort of approach from that side.
Admittedly Reddish Vale, like all courses, is not without its faults. Somewhat unusually the 17th tee is closer to the 16th tee than the 16th green! A walk back of approximately 200 yards is required after holing out to play the penultimate hole, which then crosses its predecessor, and the 18th climbs back up the (very) steep hill that was descended at the sixth. It’s not an ideal way to close the round, a necessary evil in order to return to the clubhouse I suppose, but this course will certainly leave you breathless... in more ways than one. The many positives certainly outweigh any niggles.
Like many courses I see nowadays the amount of trees, overgrowth and vegetation at Reddish Vale kills a lot of the strategy and playability. The river that winds through the course is virtually hidden from sight and this takes away from much of the drama that could be had. Holes such as the sixth, seventh, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th are not nearly as intimidating, nor thought-provoking, as they could be, and probably were a century ago. And although the trees down the left of the third hole may successfully hide housing the dense woodland to the side of the next two holes block out what would be stunning vistas to the bulk of the holes down in the valley below, a view that can be enjoyed to some extent from the elevated clubhouse.
Overall I was very impressed with Reddish Vale though, it’s a course that challenges the golfer with a wide variety of shots and there is little to argue with the £20 green-fee I paid.
Condition wise the course was very good in August 2015; the fairways were absolutley fantastic - perhaps the best I've seen all year - and the greens excellent with only the divot-ridden teeing grounds a cause for concern, something I understand The Club will be addressing on their next phase of improvements to the course along with the bunkering which I actually thought wasn't too bad.
The tranquillity of the location too, despite lying inside the M60, is a joy to behold with only the regular take-offs and landings of aeroplanes and the occasional glimpse of a city tower block giving any hint that you are so close to the centre of Manchester.
Reddish Vale is featured in the National Club Golfer Top 100 under £100 Golf Courses of Great Britain.