Painswick Golf Club

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  • Architect:
    • Brown, David
  • Holes of Merit:
    4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16

At A Glance

  • Two of the best blind par three's anywhere
  • Routing through ancient ruins on hilltop

Full Course Review

Painswick Golf Club is perched on a prominent ridgeline that offers astonishing views of both England and Wales. The views, popular with townsfolk and walkers with their dogs, are earned the hard way, which means the first six holes, except for the 3rd, are more or less uphill.

The 1st is a vertical wall of fairway. If that’s not enough, there is a hidden pit in front of the green which must be carried. The 2nd is a blind par 4, which shares its fairway with 14. After climbing yet another hill, you have an enormously wide fairway to a green on the far left of the expanse. A sheer drop runs parallel to the hole on the right, and the fairway is shared with the 13th. The 4th is a delightful, uphill par 4 with a beautiful green site tucked away in a cosy hollow. As good as the 4th is, the next stretch of holes is what you will have come to see.

The short, par-three 5th is an entirely blind one shot hole up and over the walls of an ancient Bronze Age fort. A small stake in the hillside provides your line of play. A staircase meanders its way up and over the precipice to reveal a punchbowl green. At just over a hundred yards, it is one of the best completely blind holes you’ll come across.

The walk to the next tee is up and along the ridgeline. At the end of the ridge is the tee to for the 6th. The hole is a stunning long par three playing downhill with bags of character that must be carried to reach the green. If you think long par 3’s are boring this one will change your mind.

The 7th is a semi-blind downhill par three followed by back to back par five’s which share a common fairway. The 9th, and in particular its green complex, which narrows into a plateau is the pick between the two. After three consecutive par three’s and back to back par five’s you have another superb, blind, uphill par third. Longer than the 5th but less uphill and with an impossibly small green, it could only have been found by one unencumbered by the rules of golf course design.

The 11th is a short par four playing uphill from the tee across the world-class 6th. The green site is virtually shared with the punchbowl green 5th. The undulations which make up the fairway are inexplicable until you realise you are playing through what would have been the middle of the fortress centuries ago.

From the 11th green, you trek up to the 12th tee for another short par four playing across the 4th fairway. The tee shot on 13 crosses the 3rd. From here you make your way to another elevated tee where the 14th is a do-or-die carry over no man’s land to a generous fairway. The second shot is to a green draped across the hillside that runs away from you.

From the 14th, it is all downhill - literally and figuratively. The 15th is a more dramatic version of the 7th, both of which would benefit from some thinning of the trees surrounding.

The 16th plays downhill over land and brush from where it will be impossible to find your ball. If you carry the brush and miss cars using the road which crosses the fairway you may well find yourself on the green. Victorian in design it is cut from the hillside without any shaping of any description. The penultimate and closing holes are nothing of note.

What are the takeaways? The two blind par three’s are 5 and 10. You will be hard-pressed to find two better, let alone in the space of six holes.

The long, par-three 6th will change your mind if you think this type of hole is dull and uninteresting.

The fairway of the eleventh will make you question what is possible with regards to routing over the most interesting of landforms.

There are two downhill partially blind par three’s in 7 and 15 which provide intrigue but not as much drama as 5 and 10.

Painswick Golf Club is a conundrum. It contains perhaps the worst opening hole in golf and one of the best long par three’s in the 6th. Tom Doak calls it awkward if not downright crazy to play - then includes it as one of his Gourmet Choice. The questionable opening and closing holes with an astonishing stretch in between are perhaps metaphoric for the range of quality you see in the holes themselves. At 4800 yards from the tips and a par of 67, it doesn’t make much sense. The whole endeavour is puzzling, which seems to be the point

Sean Arble's tour of Painswick Golf Club can be found by clicking here.


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