Church Stretton GC, Shropshire
Placed atop the rolling Shropshire Hills, few courses in Blighty are blessed with the views of Church Stretton GC. Looking down upon the historic market town of the same name, it might be classed as quirky in some quarters. Short by any standards, it weighs in at a par 66 just a few paces over 5,000 yards. Curb your enthusiasm and fully engage your brain, in other words.
In existence for more than a century, shaped by the combined creativity of James Braid and Harry Vardon, Church Stretton is unashamedly old fashioned, even rudimentary in places, but in the very best sense. It begins with a par 3, then a second, followed by a third. Each climb steadily and in places steeply uphill, you’re rewarded with the views that define your round. Is it golf, a very pleasant walk or something between the two?
As the longer holes arrive, your journey takes you through heather-lined fairways that snake through hills and valleys to deceptively undulating greens that ask questions until the end. Short, but in places savage, accuracy is everything here. That the par 4, known locally as ‘the long hole’, weighs in at just 433 yards, you know Church Stretton’s test isn’t based on bludgeoning and brawn.
Bring your touch, your artistry and a camera, for on these hills, you’ll need all three.