Golf can often be a patience-wearing, temper-flaring, club-hurling affair. In fact in my experience, golf is always a patience-wearing, temper-flaring, club-hurling affair.
That said, a week off work combined with glorious sunshine and those devilish fairways and hellish greens soon come calling.
Blue skies and Towneley Golf Course go together like John Daly and dodgy fashion choices.
Established in 1932, the club offers up a beautiful, well-cared for course with picturesque views of the surrounding area at every juncture.
Playing off the white tees (5,834 yards) adds an extra 400 yards to a course designed to challenge all skill levels.
But with my skill level currently back to what it was when I was around 12 (years old not my handicap unfortunately) I was hitting from the yellow markers for the purpose of this review.
The first is a 378-yard dog leg left with out of bounds all the way down that left hand side. Just what you want when you haven’t taken a swing in anger for a while. If you have the balls (and you may need a few if you take this option), you can cut out the angle and head straight over the out of bounds and the trees in hope of finding the green in one. Otherwise, a slight fade with a long iron should leave you in the ideal position with around 100 yards to the green.
Two bunkers guard the green at the short par 3 second while anybody who hooks their tee shot risks landing in the stream running diagonally across the approach.
Water comes into play on the third as well. It’s around 170 yards to carry the sizeable pond splitting the fairway. Clear it safely and it should comfortably eliminate the threat offered up by the steam and two bunkers protecting the green.
Thump one down the centre of the fairway with a slight draw on the par 4 357-yard fourth and you’ll be leaving yourself a nice mid-sized iron into a welcoming green.
What’s your worst fear when playing golf? Missing a 10ft putt on the 18th to win? Turning up in bright red Sunday Tiger style top and duffing your opening tee shot 20 yards left into the rough?
Mine. Smashing a car windscreen. And after watching my playing partner for the day hook his tee shot and send it careening towards a motoring Citroen C1, along with a flurry of expletives towards the heavens, I don’t think I need to go into the perils awaiting those playing the 367-yard par 4 fifth. Fortunately for him, the ball somehow missed and I’m sure the sigh of relief was heard back at the clubhouse.
The par 3 sixth brings a sunken down green surrounded by three bunkers complete with steam along the back. Plenty of room on the green just make sure you don’t over club.
Holes 7 and 8 are straightforward par 4s although a blind tee shot on the eighth adds an element of uncertainty.
It’s uphill and a long way uphill at that as you make your way back towards the clubhouse on the 416-yard par 5 ninth. A decent tee shot should ensure you have an excellent chance of making the green in three (or seven if you’re my mate) with the banking at its back providing some security if you overshoot your fourth.
The front nine plays slightly more difficult than the back with three of the inward nine par 4s measuring under 300 yards.
The elevated tee position on the 10th offers ones of the best views of not just the course but the surrounding area. One bad shot however and the only thing you’re looking at is a bogey or worse. Out of bounds down the right and a stream across the fairway means position is key. Even if you hit the middle of the fairway, an undulating green with a steep bank to the left means you shouldn’t let your guard down on what’s considered the course’s toughest hole. No pleasure without pain and there’s more than a chance to make up for any mishaps on the 10th on the short downhill 296-yard par 4 11th – the easiest hole on the course.
The 12th is a more than manageable par 5 at just 451 yards but with that road reappearing to your left and a tee shot which plays over the previous hole’s green, concentration is paramount.
Holes 13 and 14 are par 4s that shouldn’t offer too many problems while the par 4 15th, with its elevated tee position in amongst the trees and a green just 234 yards away is crying out to be ‘gone for’. If you don’t, go home, download “Tin Cup” and learn how to play golf the real way.
Par 3s in my opinion should be holes to look forward to. Nearest to the pins competitions; fleeting hopes of that hole-in-one. Landing it on the green at the uphill 191-yard 16th may as well equate to acing a par 3 for me. Just a foot underhit and you’re rolling back more than Asda. The only redeeming factor is a steep uphill bank at the rear of the green meaning you can afford to club up and go for it.
The par 3 163-yard 17th, even with its four surrounding bunkers is a much more enjoyable fare...until of course one of those sand traps gobbles up an errant tee shot.
On the surface the 18th appears straightforward enough but with out of bounds down either side and a green guarded by two bunkers and a stream, it can easily be the difference between you crying in the clubhouse toilets or getting the first round in with the smuggest of grins.