Golf Course Review of Sandiway Golf Club
Sandiway Golf Course
Reviewed by Ed Battye -
Quick Summary: One of Cheshire's finest with brilliant green locations
Our 5 Star Rating: 4.2
A round at Sandiway, on a glorious spring afternoon, completed my playing of all the recognised top inland golf courses in Cheshire.
And this one pushes my personal favourite, Delamere Forest, very close to topping the list. There are so many good things to say about Sandiway but I’ll start by saying why it didn’t quite displace its near neighbour as my number one choice in its county.
Firstly the greens just didn’t float my boat. The condition of the putting surfaces was excellent but there simply wasn’t enough movement in them for me. Of course there were slopes, many subtle, and some were titled but overall they were far too flat for my personal taste. The actual locations of the greens, however, are simply sensational. Maybe bold contouring would be overkill but it’s something I would have liked to have seen, at least to a certain extent, and this would perhaps have tipped the balance.
I truly love the openness and the almost linksy feel to the front nine at Delamere. Despite sharing similar brilliantly undulating terrain, Sandiway is more tree-lined and plays much narrower, at times it is overly tight for me. However, there’s no denying this mature woodland course is an absolute joy to play and walking the fairways, in almost seclusion at times, is exhilarating and will be preferred by many.
Anyway, enough comparisons! This review is about Sandiway and there are so many highlights I could be writing for a long time if I were to give a hole-by-hole account. In fact there were only two shots in the entire round that I didn’t really care for; the tee-shot at the par three 11th, a hole that seems out of kilter with the rest of the course, and the drive at the 14th (and no I didn’t slice it out of bounds before you ask!). Those minor irks aside Sandiway is superb.
The most impressive thing for me is the undulating property that the course is laid out over. This is noticeable from the opening hole where you drive from high, down into a valley, before playing back up to the green. To say that Sandiway is a rollercoaster ride in terms of the routing is undoubtedly true but it is certainly not hilly and infinitely walkable.
Because of the many rises and falls in the land it has enabled all the architects who have had a hand in Sandiway (Ted Ray in 1920, Harry Colt in 1925 and Fred Hawtree in 1955) to create some of the finest green settings I have seen. Each one is positioned superbly and naturally which creates exciting and precision golf.
You are often playing to the green from high above it or from down below. There is rarely a flat approach. And even when there is, such as at the third, the way that the approach to the green is contoured adds great interest. The changes in elevation have also allowed the designers to create dramatic bunkering which really brings the course to life.
Maybe the best example of the sweeping nature of the property is the ninth hole where after a semi-blind drive (one of a handful throughout the round) the fairway tumbles away before dipping sharply before the green and then rising back up. Your approach is likely to be from a similar ground level to the green but there is so much movement in the land it doesn’t feel this way.
Other examples of the where there is great fluidity can be found at almost every hole, especially the two-shotters, but even the par threes have plenty going on. It really does create stimulating golf.
As well as being quite tight the course plays surprising long too. The card shows 6,404 yards with a par of 70 but I also found that on many of the holes I was pitching into an uphill slope with my drive and therefore getting very little run.
Overall I was thrilled to have experienced Sandiway and came away hugely impressed.