HOLE 1 PAR 4
HOLE 2 PAR 4
HOLE 3 PAR 4
The opening hole is a deceptively gentle introduction to the course. A wide fairway with generous amounts of ground on either side, helps to build confidence in regular players of the course and first-time visitors alike. The green is hidden from the tee by the crest of a gentle hill, but the line of the drive is indicated by an ancient standing stone in the middle of the fairway. At times this ancient stone has been unfair to a well struck drive that on splitting the fairway has struck the stone and ended up ricocheting back down the fairway.
This ancient standing stone was used in the not too distant past by cattle grazing on the land, to relieve any persistent itch or irritation. As a result, the stone is universally known to members as the “Scratcher”.
Any decent drive will leave only a short iron shot to the green, but beware, the green is well bunkered and is very narrow, and is sloped from front to back with a steep drop behind. The swelling pride of a fine opening drive can be quickly deflated by an overhit or slightly wayward approach shot.
The second hole still gives the impression of safety and openness. Again a wide fairway with generous amounts of ground on either side, yet what the player notices immediately is how far away the green seems to be.
With the prevailing wind blowing directly against the drive, a decent drive and good long iron are required to reach the putting surface. It may seem to the unwary that the drive need not be straight but for the unhappy player that slices the ball out to the right, there waits an unwelcome demonstration of just how tall the beech trees, guarding the right-hand-side of the fairway, are.
Another ancient stone is tucked away below the massive copper beech on the right of the fairway. Don’t worry, you have a free drop from the stone if needs be.
The third is a long par 4. However, the prevailing wind is with you. So the green is a drive and short iron from the tee, if you can avoid the four large bunkers on either side of the fairway in the landing area.
HOLE 7 PAR 5
This hole is a long uphill par 5. The left-to-right slope on the fairway makes it difficult to hold the ball on the short grass and a deep bunker waits to gather drives sent slightly off course by the slope.
A good drive here needs to be hit with a slight draw. The huge unforgiving lime trees to the left of the tee force the player to aim to the right of the fairway where a strategically placed bunker and more trees await those who do not manage to draw the ball.
The player must think strategically about the second shot. A long second will set up an easy chip to the hole and a possible birdie, but the fairway narrows dramatically as it nears the green and the deep rough on either side makes accurate chipping almost impossible.
HOLE 8 PAR 3
The 8th hole is a long (147 Metre) uphill par 3. The green is set high above the level of the tee and so taking an extra club is to be recommended to make the carry to the green.
The green is protected at the front and on the left by large deep bunkers and is set in the start of the heavy woodland that is a feature of the course for the next five holes.
HOLE 9 PAR 5
The first 8 holes in Beech Park are fairly open with little danger of losing a ball off the tee. There may be some very large trees waiting to block your second shot but at least you will have a second shot.
The 9th hole is the beginning of Beech Park’s “Amen Corner”. A run of holes that are thickly lined with woodland now wait to test the faint-hearted and to reward the brave. Each of the holes have a generously wide landing area, but it does not look that way from the tees.
The ninth is a demanding driving hole. If a ball is hit long and straight it runs off the right-to-left slope of the fairway and into the rough, perhaps into the young tree saplings. The drive needs to be a long fade, and yet if it is faded too much the player may have to share the woodland on the right with the Sika deer that are often to be seen hiding in the heavy cover.
The ninth green is elevated, set into a heavy right-to-left slope and is protected by an enormous bunker on the front left. The heavy undulations of this green make it the most severe putting challenge on the course.
HOLE 10 PAR 4
This is the second leg of “Amen Corner”. A very tight driving hole, from the tee it looks even tighter than it is. Heavy tree cover on the right and the left demands that you hit the ball straight, and yet if you use a driver you run the risk of even a well hit ball running into the outcrop of trees at the top of the hill.
The woodlands on both sides of this treacherous fairway are lined with rhododendrons. In early summer the splendor of the blooms sharpens the analogy to Augusta National’s “Amen Corner”. Once at the top of the hill, the green can be seen to be set in a valley protected on the right hand side by a large bunker and by large trees on the left.
HOLE 11 PAR 4
The 11th is arguably the most picturesque of all of Beech Park’s holes. The green is set beyond a wide stretch of lily pond.
The water can be carried by the longest hitters but the advantage they gain is not worth the risk taken. A long iron to the landing area and a wedge to the heart of the green is by far the best policy. But when the wind blows strongly from left to right these plans can easily start to come apart at the seams.
The entrance to the 11th green is across an eighteenth century bridge that leads into an avenue of lime trees. Fourteen lime trees to be exact. Sixteen saplings were planted to commemorate the sixteenth birthday of the family’s youngest daughter. Shortly after her death in 1932 one of the trees blew down in a storm leaving an obvious void in the avenue.
Once across the stone bridge, a player finds himself in a quiet oasis of greenery, the surrounding trees deadening all outside sounds and completely cutting off any wind that may be blowing.
HOLE 12 PAR 3
The 12th is a long par 3 that must be carried across a wide expanse of lily pond against the prevailing wind. From the medal tee, most players will choose to hit a 5-wood to this green.
A memorable feature of the hole is the walk back across the stone bridge into the open. The original designer of the demesne knew his job well.
The green is sloped, downhill from back to front, with a large undulation running across the front third.
Many a player has considered himself lucky to walk off this green having only three-putted.
HOLE 13 PAR 5
The 13th hole is a par 5. It is a very tight driving hole, through a 200 yard avenue of ancient beech woodland. A long drive is required and those that can draw the ball are heavily favoured. However the second shot needs to be a long fade skirting the old boating lake that runs the length of the fairway to the green that is tucked away in a sheltered picturesque corner of the course.
The long heavily-wooded walk from the 12th green to the 13th tee helps to build your apprehension as you approach the tee box. As you step up onto the tee your question is answered, “Yes it is as tight as I feared”!
After the pleasure of a long drawing drive, the player is faced with the decision of trying to reach the green by carrying the boating lake or laying up to a narrow neck of fairway to set up a third shot.
The clever golfers at this point will put their faith in the distance markers, as the green is further away than it looks. The gentle swale in front of the green is most deceptive.
The 13th hole can destroy a player’s card but if the hole can be negotiated the course now opens out and the danger lessens.
HOLE 14 PAR 4
The 14th is a gentle left-to-right dogleg. It requires a long drive to carry a water hazard that crosses the fairway 180 yards from the tee.
The main feature of the hole is that now the player has emerged from “Amen Corner”, the course opens out a little and strained nerves can begin to settle.
A well struck short iron is required for an approach to the well-elevated green.
HOLE 15 PAR 3
The 15th is a short par 3 hole and carries a stroke index of 18. The difficulty associated with this hole is the huge snaking step between the two tiers of the green.
The top tier of the green is fully three feet above the lower level and the boundary between them meanders across the width of the green. If the tee shot leaves the ball on the wrong tier, then the player is facing a very possible three-putt. The green is also well protected by three large bunkers guarding its front and sides.
HOLE 16 PAR 4
This is unquestionably the prettiest, most inviting driving hole on the course.
The fairway runs downhill from the elevated tee with space available on either side to save a wayward tee shot. On many days both the prevailing wind and the sun are on the players back and these conditions conspire to fill his heart with pride as the ball soars away with blue skies acting as a backdrop.
However, as usual, appearances can be deceptive. A water hazard waits to trap the well hit drive from long hitters, forcing them to hit 3-irons off the tee.
HOLE 17 PAR 5
The penultimate hole is a short par 5, if you can thread your drive through the avenue of tall trees that guard the sides of the fairway and avoid the protecting bunker on the elbow of the dogleg (or should that be knee?) then this is certainly an easy birdie hole.
Ah, but that’s the old story, “if only” you get a good drive away.
You can see from the lower right-hand corner of the full image that the clubhouse is visible as you walk up the 17th fairway. At times this can be a glimpse of heaven, beckoning the weary golfer to his deserved relaxation and refuelling.
HOLE 18 PAR 4/5
The 18th is the index 2 hole and rightly so. At 400 yards it is a long par four, with a slight left-to-right dogleg, that requires a well placed drive.
Too straight a drive will leave the ball in a lateral water hazard that runs the length of the left side of the fairway. Any drive kept too safely to the right, runs the risk of hitting the signature Copper Beech tree that guards the right-hand-side of the fairway at the crest of the hill.
A long climb then awaits weary legs, but the vista that awaits is a fitting reward. The tree clad hills that come into view help to frame the beckoning clubhouse with its promise of rest and refreshment.
A long second shot is required to reach a long narrow green that is well protected by large, deep bunkers on both sides. Out-of-bounds awaits behind the green, and a player must gather his courage one final time in order to march triumphantly onto the final green under the gaze of colleagues and well-wishers already enjoying the delights of the clubhouse veranda.