Holes of Merit:1, 8, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17
Green Keeper:Matthews, Adam
At A Glance
- Pure golf at its best, unchanged from 1889.
- There are no man-made hazards such as bunkers.
Full Course Review
The Old is the third course in the Minchinhampton portfolio. Old is the least well known and perhaps the most underrated, at least to the uninitiated.
Old is the antithesis to the modern game. It breaks all the rules and is unique on every level. What makes it unique? For a start, the routing. The first hole runs away from the clubhouse almost due South. Turning North and running clockwise the holes then make a massive round until you tee off Eighteen beside the first green and putt out beside the clubhouse and first tee.
Another USP? No less than six roads intersect the site along with a popular pub beside the clubhouse. Third? Two holes criss-cross themselves in Three and Four as well as Sixteen and Seventeen. Fourth? Back to back opening Par 5’s. Fifth? Out in 37 and back in 34. Sixth? Local rules for Hoofmarks, Fences and Abnormal Course Conditions (AKA manure.) Seventh? No bunkers! Oh, and it comes in at a very modest 6060 yards. Perhaps the best bit? The raw, natural, pure nature of the course. You’ll find cattle, dogs, donkeys, horses, and walkers roaming the common/ course alongside you.
How good is it? Despite all the quirk, it just feels right. It cuts through the complexity and layers of the modern game and brings you back to the origins of the game. Indeed, not much has changed since 1889 despite some facelifts required due to its penal, Victorian past. It has hints of Aldeburgh, and I guess that’s why it appears on Golf Club Atlas’ 147 Custodians. The best bit? It’s pocket change to play. Next to Bruntsfield Short Course and the Ladies Putting Green, this is perhaps one of the best values in golf.
It falls into three distinct sections. First, holes One through Five. The collective identifier here is elevation changes and blind shots. The first is downhill, Two through Four are uphill. Five runs away from you.
The next section could include holes Six through Eleven. The common factor here? Use of natural features to add strategic intrigue. The Sixth has a blind tee shot obscured by a line of trees. Seven has a massive depression short and left of the green that will catch out any feeble shots or attempts that are less than perfect. Eight is a great one-shot hole over no man’s land. Nine makes use of a small cluster of trees on the inside edge of the slight dogleg. The angle of the green means, the closer you are to the trees, the better the angle to attack. Ten plays into a natural punchbowl and Eleven has a goalpost tee shot framed by trees on a natural knoll and a punchbowl green for the ages.
Twelve through Eighteen appear more or less right in front of you except for the approach to Thirteen and the tee shot on Fifteen. But don’t be fooled! Despite playing nearly 400 yards shorter than the front, the back seems to play longer. The Eleventh and Thirteenth are harder than the scorecard lets on. Fifteen and Seventeen play significantly shorter than the card would make out.
Few courses grab your attention and hold it throughout. Old is one of them. It is also a course that you can remember every hole after playing. There are quirkiness and rule-breaking everywhere. It’s off the radar, its a pittance to play, it’s worth the trek - you’ll be glad you did!
Golf Club Atlas’ review of the course can be found by clicking here.
Sean Arble's tour of the course can be found by clicking here.
This course features in these collections. Click an icon to view the entire set.
Everything you need to know before you go!
Address:Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL6 9AQ, England