Cotswold Hills Golf Club Review
Course Name: Cotswold Hills Golf Club
Location: Ullenwood, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 9QT, UK
Date Played: Summer 2021
Course Type: Parkland
The club was originally founded in 1902 as Cheltenham Town Golf Club. It shared the course on Cleeve Hill common with Cheltenham Golf Club.
In the early 1970s, a decision was made to move the course away from the common land where the club would have better control of its destiny.
The present site on free draining former farmland was offered to the club. One of its members a scratch player called Morris Little designed the course which opened for play in 1976.
Quite soon after it opened for play it hosted the English Ladies Amateur Championship (1981).
It’s fair to say there is a fair amount of undulation although I don’t think it ever feels particularly tiring.
The putting green outside the clubhouse has quite a bit of undulation which is totally unrepresentative of the actual greens. The majority are fairly flat with just subtle breaks.
The club took full advantage of the extra space by creating a course with five different sets of tees to suit all abilities.
At its shortest the course plays 5402 yards, if you fancy taking on the full length of the course then the blue tees stretch the course out to 6849 yards.
Both nines begin and end at the clubhouse which can give you a few more options for starting. Indeed the club does seem to have different times of day set aside for two-ball golf. On the day I played everyone was starting from the 10th but I will go through the holes in the correct order.
The first hole takes you away from the clubhouse along the edge of the property so out of bounds is a danger on your left. Your second then has to carry a valley to the green set on the hill beyond.
You turn 90° to the right for the second which also has out-of-bounds down the left and a fairway that slopes quite a lot from left to right. Try to keep your tee shot down the left-hand side if you can. The third hole plays in a similar direction but is quite a tough par-4 as the second shot plays uphill to a green set above you.
Most of the holes have copses of trees protecting the fairways along with areas of deep wispy rough. Sense prevails with no long rough in among the trees which are a sufficient hazard on their own.
The first par-3 is a good test requiring a mid-iron or as much as a fairway wood from the blue tee particularly if the wind is in your face. You’ll need to carry most of the distance as the green is set up a little.
The first par-5 follows which at some courses would be considered quite long at 562 yards off the whites. It’s not the longest hole at Cotswold Hills, however!
All but the longest hitters will need three shots to reach this hole. You are advised to lay up short of the fairway bunker with your second. Turn slightly to the right and uphill with your approach to a green set above you.
Again out-of-bounds lurks should you stray too far to the left.
Six starts you back towards the clubhouse with one of the straighter holes up a slight hill. With just a small bunker troubling you on the left, trees will be a problem if you miss the fairway.
Seven is a short par-5 that would give longer hitters the chance to reach in two. There is a pretty stone wall that may affect your second shot. One of several that are dotted around the course.
The 8th is a 90° dogleg right where you need to either take on the bunkers or play out to the left. Trees will interfere with your second shot if you’re short off the tee.
The final hole on the front nine is a nice par-3 with a two-tier green so try to make sure you put yourself on the correct level.
The back nine starts with a slight dogleg left which drifts slightly uphill. The green is set back in a copse of trees meaning you’ll need to be fairly accurate with your approach.
The 11th is a nice medium-length par-3 playing downhill with a nice view of the surrounding countryside beyond.
12 plays uphill with the fairway sloping from left to right and a tricky approach to the green slightly above you.
Another shortish par-5 to follow, make sure you don’t catch the traps from the tee, one left and one right. If you can avoid them then there’s a chance you might be able to get up in two although there are some bunkers waiting for a misplaced layup.
14 turns back towards the clubhouse and is quite a good test. Your second shot needs to go up to a green that is a little above the fairway.
15 is another long par-3 with a bank to the right and a tree also protecting the green with bunkers left and right catch you out as well.
The 16th is the longest par-5 on the course playing 633 yards from the blue tees. Fortunately, the elevated tee means it plays slightly shorter than the card would suggest.
It does dogleg slightly to the left around a fairway bunker and there is also another fairway bunker to be avoided with your layup. If you’re a really big hitter then you can have a crack at the green!
17 comes back in the opposite direction with copses of trees on either side of the fairway and bunkers to catch you out.
The home hole plays back slightly downhill with just a solitary fairway bunker and a couple of greenside bunkers being the primary defense.
The club and its green staff can be rightly proud of the condition of their greens. They were firm, fast and true. Although you could still stop the ball with a well-struck shot. I would certainly have no complaints about playing on the surfaces on a regular basis.
Fairways were in good nick and the presentation of the course, in general, was good.
These look to be well maintained although as with the fairways, there were a few unrepaired divots. Sign of the times I’m afraid during covid-19 with no sand and seed mix available on the tees or bags for members to fix their own fairway divots.
I played off the white tees which I felt was a reasonable challenge to someone who hit the distance I do!
I would suggest it would test pretty well every club in your bag and you need to be able to move the ball both ways to get into the best positions on the fairways.
You’ll come across all sorts of uphill, downhill and sidehill lies
Off The Course
The clubhouse does have the look of the 1970s about it, which can be an acquired taste. It does have a large amount of outside space particularly useful during the current pandemic!
Pro shop staff were very welcoming. There is a driving range available along with the putting green and some nets to warm up before you play.
Cotswold Hills Golf Club Review: Summary
On the whole, I found it a very enjoyable experience and would recommend anyone in the area to play the course.
I joined up with some members for the back nine and others I talked to around the clubhouse would suggest it’s a friendly club.
The normal green fee on a weekday is £45 which I would suggest is probably about right given the price some courses charge.
If you have a county card then that weekday fee drops to an even more reasonable £30 per round.
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