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society days out –


By Wing Commander Roger Lindley For those of you stationed not too far from Wiltshire, if you are looking for a suitable venue for a day out for your golf society, the Manor House Golf Club at Castle Combe offers something special. Situated just off the M4 near Chippenham, the course sits in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is an absolute delight. Peter Alliss had a hand in designing it, and it is accurately described in most of the guidebooks as one of the most spectacular and challenging courses in the South of England. I should say from the outset that it is challenging both in terms of the technical difficulty of the course and the need to climb up hill and down dale on a number of holes – and these are serious hills and dales! If you’re not feeling fully fit it might be best to opt for a buggy. I suspect that 18 holes will be quite enough for those who decide to walk it, and they may find it easier with a carry-bag rather than pulling a trolley. But it is well worth all this strenuous exercise, as it offers the opportunity to play some magnificent holes amongst the spectacular scenery. At 6286 yards, the par 72 course is not overly long, but you will need to be on your mettle to stand any chance of success in scoring well. Each hole is unique, for a start, and it is well worth quietly perusing the planner before you go out, particularly as it offers some helpful suggestions on club selection. Brace yourself for the third, a stunning par five involving a river, a lake and a cruel collection of bunkers around the green – this is rightly Stroke Index 1, and it will be best to leave your driver in the bag and ignore the temptation of trying to reach it in two! If you come away with a par, you’ve done very well, but don’t get cocky as the next hole looks a doddle on the card as a 289 yard par four but needs an accurate long iron onto the fairway rather than an attempt on the green, which stands high above you. It will be good practice for you too, because you will need a long straight carry to clear two huge bunkers on the 6 th, and when you face the avenue of trees lining the narrow 7th fairway you really will need to be straight off the tee. The back nine starts a little easier, probably recognising that most players need to get their breath back after climbing up the steep hill from the ninth. Be careful to avoid putting your ball in the river Bybrook on the 11th, a scenic par 3, and you may need your long irons again on the 12th, at 554 yards the longest hole on the course and with trees all along the sides of the tight fairway. There is plenty of water to contend with on the next few holes, and you reach the signature hole at the 17th, a 151 yard par 3 with the green surrounded by the river Bybrook way below you. It’s a long way down and even longer back up, but what a hole! Finally, the par 4 18th needs a fade or draw off the tee and an accurate second avoiding a lake and 6 green-side bunkers for your par. But do take time out to appreciate that it has been described as the prettiest finishing hole in England! I’m sorry if that brief description of a selection of holes on the course leaves you physically and mentally exhausted, but that’s likely to be the outcome once you play it. Even quality golfers are likely to suffer somewhere during the round, but if you return a score anything close to your handicap you should feel very satisfied, because this unique course has been designed to test out all aspects of your game. A drink in the smart, comfortable clubhouse will be well deserved. As you would expect from an exclusive English golf club, a round of golf isn’t cheap here. The car park would do justice to any prestigious London car salesroom, and many golfers don’t even bother to pick up their tees. But don’t let that put you off, the

club also accepts the 2-Fore-1 scheme at certain times, significant discounts can be negotiated for societies, and they look kindly on us impoverished servicemen. Give it a go, it will prove to be a memorable occasion. Contacts: Steve Slinger (PGA) Golf Operations Manager Tel: 01249 782982 Fax: 01249 782992 Email: Website:

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