Walking towards the 11th tee on Whittlebury Park’s Grand Prix golf course you are uncertain of whose voice you might hear.
Will it be Sir David Attenborough’s hushed tones of reverence as swans glide across the water lily gilded lake to the right of the 11th green? One of Whittlebury’s features is that par 3 holes are often protected by a little water, and a blustery wind too.
Or will you imagine the dahlia-and-compost enthusiastic tones of Alan Titchmarsh as he rhapsodises over cornflowers, daisies, irises and poppies growing around the tees?
Or will it be the ghost of Murray Walker reprising a commentating career of over-excited Murrayisms as he passionately yelps about chicanes, corners and crashes at neighbouring Silverstone. Appropriately, Nigel Mansell, a former F1 champion struck the first drive at the reincarnation of the Whittlebury golf course.
In fact, Whittlebury Park has four golf courses of nine holes, scenically meandering around ancient copses and lakes. Currently, in pandemic times, three of the courses are open at weekends. On weekdays, the head greenkeeper selects two nines to create a course of the day, each with its own scorecard. This gives the courses time to breathe and an opportunity for the ground staff to care for greens and fairways.
Once medieval kings pursued stags through the historic acres of the Whittlewood forest. Then, in subsequent centuries, writing more pages for the history books, many of the oaks were felled for Royal Navy warships. Nelson stood on timbers from Whittlewood when he led the British fleet to victory at Trafalgar in 1805. Yet, enough trees remain two centuries, on to trap errant drives.
Although a golf course was first created in 1905, by the interwar years the land had been given over to agricultural use. With the creation of the Whittlebury resort, the course was revived in the 1980s to create a course of plush fairways and fast greens carefully curated to Championship standards.
Though these are beauty and the beast courses, with Jekyll and Hyde tendencies. Thick rough, golf’s version of the Bermuda Triangle, swallows golf balls without a trace. Suddenly, fairways narrow, demanding that balls are threaded through a narrowing corridor of opportunity. Or a trio of trees appear, towering ahead, like a golfing Becher’s Brook: a physical and psychological barrier calling for the surest of elevated irons to rise towards the green.
The Whittlewood nine immediately asserts its personality, charming and challenging.
There’s no time to loosen up and settle into your game on the par-four first. A long drive to the lefthand side of the fairway is essential, setting up a diagonal shot to a narrow green. Err to the right and a centuries-old oak acts as a burly sentinel. English countryside charm may lull you into a false sense of security but this is a challenging course. Make a mistake and shots quickly accrue on your scorecard.
Golf at Whittlebury has an architect’s dream of a 19th hole. A light-infused pavilion of glass and steel has twice taken the accolade of UK Clubhouse of the Year. Deep sofas and wood-panelling give the aura of a sedate gentleman’s golfing club but the technology is 21st century. Scan the bar code for the menu, select, order and pay without leaving that cocoon of a sofa.
Golf, with a driving range and putting green, is just one facet of Whittlebury Park’s charm. As the four courses offer a different challenge from day to day, the four-star hotel provides an exceptionally comfortable base for a golfing break.
Tell Me More About Whittlebury Park Golf Course
Whittlebury Park Golf Course, Whittlebury, NearTowcester, NN12 8QH
T: 01327 857857 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
18 hole rounds begin from £40 per person.
Golf packages start from £99 per person to include 18-holes of golf on the championship course, three-course dinner in Astons restaurant, an overnight stay and breakfast the following morning. This package also includes a 20% discount in the pro shop and 10% off all beverages across the estate.