Part of the family-owned Exclusive Hotels and Venues, The Manor House is absolutely an “exclusive” golf club.
The combination of magnificent course and five-star luxury make this a venue any golfer would want to sample. With Coronavirus restrictions and guidelines in place across the estate, I was fortunate enough to enjoy two days and two rounds in this delightful setting.
It is hard to believe that a village so tranquil and beautiful as Castle Combe could be so close to one of England’s busiest roads, but less than a ten-minute drive from the M4 you come across Castle Combe, the home of the Manor House. This village used as the location for the film “War Horse” and a plethora of period dramas quite simply takes you back in time. The streets and housing having no place in the hustle and bustle of the 21st century. Stunned by the magnificence of the setting, I was expecting great things from the golf course and was not disappointed.
The Peter Allis/Clive Clark designed parkland course opened in 1994, has been spectacularly carved out of the Cotswolds and has the River Bybrook meandering through its length. The course at over 6,500 yards (white tees), 5,800 yards (yellow tees and my preferred option) demands length but more important accuracy to hit tree-lined fairways and small greens. The Bybrook and its tributaries follow you round the course and are a feature around the Manor House’s iconic par 3 holes. The 2nd hole “Dipper Bridge” and the 17th “Burton Brook” are breathtaking.
The latter at 127 yards has the tee shot sent down towards the green below from a dramatic height. Its one of those holes, which once played is not forgotten, where any club might do the job as the ball is just falling out of the sky, but it had better be accurate as the only options are green or water. At stroke index 18 a tough test for the 16 handicap player so I was very happy with bogey and par.
The Manor House is one of the Cotswolds finest courses and it attracts members and visitors from the M4 Corridor and further afield. It’s an ideal venue for the corporate golf day, where they can enhance the package with scoreboards and personalised golf balls, the society outing, or the casual visitors looking to take on a stiff challenge.
Ahead of play a free to use practice ground is available with pyramids of balls waiting to be hit in-order to hone the swing ahead of the trappy opening par 4. After the first loop of nine holes a well-stocked half-way house is available to re-fuel or re-stock with balls!
The Clubhouse offers fine hospitality and excellent food (we sampled the Club Sandwich) and the views from the outside seating are superb. With its natural drainage ensuring all round availability (outside of snow fall) and very good road access the Manor House is an ideal membership choice for those living in the region.
The Course is undulating as might be expected from its Cotswold location so the availability of 50 buggies is a big help. There are some very steep inclines (the automatic breaking very helpful on some descents) and some significant distances between green and tee which whilst manageable for 18 holes might be a test if playing 27 or 36.
For those looking to stay over and play the course more than once or sample the outstanding countryside, luxury accommodation is available very close to the Clubhouse in the “Waterfall Lodge” or in the five star “Manor House Hotel” a two-minute drive from the course. The latter was where I spent the two days and there is no doubt that the five-star status is well deserved.
The 14th century building set in idyllic grounds within Castle Combe offers rooms within the main building or a series of luxury cottages (Parsons Lodge was my home for two nights) which include all the trappings associated with premium hospitality. In addition to the luxury of the rooms, the hotel offers the Rob Potter-inspired Bybrook Michelin Star restaurant, a pool room, a library and a series of comfortable lounges all furnished in harmony with the building’s middle ages status.
The Manor House has the blend just right, providing great sport in beautiful surroundings. Its’ a premium venue for those playing the game as a member, visitor or as part of a company away day. On top of all that it has the very best in terms of supporting infrastructure through its links to the hotel. To complete the deal the Course is situated in a village probably not unique but outstanding in its beauty and history.
By Andrew Swires
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