Celebrating their 25th Anniversary (see page 12)
SHROPSHIRE AND THE WELSH BORDERS
in the boot
There are so many delightful areas of the English countryside, that it is extremely difficult to choose a favourite, as each has its very own crop of golf courses that simply demand to be played, the perennial problem is which of the many to play. Shropshire certainly has abundant delights, we have already visited and enjoyed Ludlow Golf Club with the iconic racecourse as the perimeter. Shrewsbury Golf Club at Condover, Church Stretton, Hill Valley, Llanymynech with it’s spectacular views, Patsull Park and my old favourite, the Old Course at Hawkstone Park, one I can never resist playing on any visit.
river banks, and those lucky may spot a kingfisher. The finish is one to remember, a par three with a wicked green, especially under the watchful eyes of members in the bar.
It was left to an old golfing buddy to select the other treats for this latest visit, he opted for one on each side of the English/Welsh border, and with my parentage, the ideal choice.
at Adderley, which eventually moved to Sutton, the present site in 1926. The period of survival after the Second World war, in common with may other courses, lasted until well into the 1960’s. The current 18 hole layout, was completed in 1988, it is a parkland/ heathland course, and is in two distinct nines, the front nine around Salisbury Hill, and the back nine around Brownhill Wood. The club Bungalow is located
The first was a short ride to the charming Vale of Llangollen in Denbighshire, famed for it’s inland waterways with the Pontcyslite Viaduct, white water canoeing, the steam railway to the Horseshoe Pass and Falls, the Eisteddfod, and the sheer beauty of the Dee valley with the backdrop of the Berwyn Mountains. The golf club nestles at the bottom of the valley, shortly before you enter the town on the arterial road the A5, it is impossible to miss as you glance down to the course spread before you. It is one of the few courses in Wales that has been awarded the HSBC Gold Medal Rating, and not surprisingly has hosted many professional and amateur events. It is a classic parkland course that runs down to and along the River Dee. From the clubhouse on the hillside there is a magnificent view over the course, taking in the first and ninth tees and the 9th and 18th greens with the river and the mountains as a backdrop, the ruins of Dinas Bran Castle standing out high on the skyline. The club was founded in 1908 as a nine hole course, it has been developed over the years and is now 6705 yards from the medal tees with a par of 72. The opening par five looks to be a gentle introduction, but it will need a good drive and an equally good second to set up the approach over the pond to the green. The signature hole is the 9th, a long par four that follows the river, and will test every player, with a tricky green waiting when you get there. There are other great holes, the par 5 15th, and the 16th which returns along the river, time to glance left and see the birds on the
14 TEE TIMES | March 2018
A really enjoyable course with greens to remember. Market Drayton was the selection for the English side of the border, reckoned to be one of the hardest courses in Shropshire. Described, I found quite justifiably, as “A Hidden Gem” the title of the club history, written to celebrate the club’s centenary in 2006. The club was originally a nine hole course
overlooking the 14th and 15th fairways, and is a wonderful place to spend a few days enjoying MDGC or the other numerous delights nearby. The course is unforgiving, with out of bounds on at least half of the holes, so driving is at a premium and straight shots are the order for the day. The short holes are a challenge, both on those on the front nine are downhill, so club selection is priority one. Two holes commemorate noted past professionals, the first is Willis’s Whim, after long serving pro Percy Willis, and the tenth, Gadd’s Gem is rated one of the best par fives in Shropshire. Bert Gadd, who went on to achieve great things in the game, was the pro in 1928, he returned when he was 88 years old to both play and speak at the club dinner. The course is a real delight, with changes in elevation, wonderful views across to the Wrekin, and the most important fact, a course in superb condition, with fast true greens that are a test for any golfer. It is a real credit to the green staff. If you are in the area, take the trouble to seek out Market Drayton Golf Club, you will surely not be disappointed. Michael Rees