We visit Derbyshire to play Cavendish, the most recent addition to our list of participating clubs, and then go to Cheshire to play Prestbury.
Dr Alister MacKenzie, the celebrated course designer, was commissioned by the Duke of Devonshire in 1923 to lay out a new 18-hole course replacing a 9-hole course in nearby Buxton. Cavendish Golf Club was ready for play two years later and it has remained virtually unchanged in character for more than three quarters of a century.
With the overall length measuring a modest 5,721 yards and a par of 68 Cavendish holds true to a couple of MacKenzie’s design principles – that the golf course should look as natural as possible with artificial features blending in seamlessly with the landscape and, above all, be interesting to players of all abilities.
Cavendish has plenty to interest all standards of golfer, whether it be the elevated tee position of the short par three 4th hole, the blind drive at the 8th hole, the two-tiered green on the 9th or the crescent shaped putting surface on the 13th. Since 2020, the remodelling of many bunkers and thinning out of woodlands to recover lost views has meant that Cavendish regularly features in any list of England’s Top 100 courses.
We cross the Derbyshire border into Cheshire for day two of the September meeting and a first GSGB visit to Prestbury, a delightful parkland layout designed by Harry Colt.
Located to the south of Manchester near Macclesfield, this 6,359-yard, par 71 parkland course has been used as a Regional Open Qualifier and it’s laid out over undulating terrain that affords some marvelous views of the surrounding Cheshire countryside.
A favourite run of holes for many is the five par fours from holes 12 to 16 – a stream protects the green at the front of the first of these, followed by a tough, uphill hole that is worthy of its stroke index of 2. The 14th is played to a very small green then out of bounds has to be contended with down the left of the next hole before the loop is completed by the slightly left doglegged 16th hole.
The course makes the most of the dramatic changes in elevation afforded by the rolling terrain. The nature of the site coupled with the sandy subsoil means that the course drains exceptionally well. In recent years Mackenzie & Ebert completed a major course renovation with all bunkers due to be completed by Christmas 2022.