Dean Bailey heads west into Cumbria and finds a classic English course with plenty of challenges
There are few better feelings than leaving the office at 3pm and heading out to the golf course on a summer evening.
Add in a trip to one of Cumbria’s oldest, and finest, parkland courses and you’re onto a winner.
Turning off the A69 and through the gates of Carlisle Golf Club bordered by tall, dark green trees you catch glimpses of the golf course which was laid out by Theodore Moon in 1908 and remodelled by Philip Mackenzie Ross following the Second World War.
The course is a classic English design from the early 20th Century with tall trees lining undulating fairways which lead to large, well-bunkered greens with subtle breaks, undulations and tiers, and a number of runoff areas and mounds which challenge every aspect of your short game should you miss the target.
With a par of 71, the 6,249-yard layout can play tough – particularly when the fairways aren’t as fast running or when the wind swirls between the trees. The first is a dog-leg left of 380 yards where finding the fairway with a long iron or hybrid is key to leave a wedge shot to a long, two-tier green with bunkers left and back right.
The second measures 186 yards from the back tee, though a big green should be easy to find providing you avoid the bunkers protecting the front. The third is the first driving test. Play over the marker post to find the fairway which sweeps right and uphill to another long green with a small bunker left cut below the surface and two bunkers short and right of the putting surface which will present very tough sand saves.
The fourth is the shortest of the par threes at just 138 yards and requires an accurate approach, while the short fifth, just 285 yards, is a great birdie chance. Take a long iron or hybrid up the hill to leave a pitch from in front of the large bunker some 50 yards from the green.
As you head toward the turn you’ll find three tough par fours. The sixth measures 349 yards and you should avoid the trees bordering a generous fairway as well as three pot bunkers to leave an approach which must find the correct level of a long, raised green. The seventh is the toughest hole on the front nine at 419 yards. The fairway narrows the longer your tee shot, though a shorter approach will help avoid the two greenside bunkers. At 370 yards, the eighth is the trickiest of the stretch with a large fairway protected by four small fairway bunkers and an uphill approach blocking sight of the bottom of the flagstick.
Making the turn, the ninth is a simple par five should you play it sensibly. Play down to the burn from the tee before playing over the two fairway bunkers in the landing area to leave a simple pitch to a well-defended, small green.
The 10th and 11th both measure 380 yards but present very different challenges. At 10, a fade is required to find the fairway should you hit driver while the 11th is the toughest tee shot on the course – requiring a shot of 210-250 yards to leave an approach through a gap in tall trees to a three-tiered green with a large front bunker cut below the surface. A fitting stroke index one hole!
The 12th is a great birdie chance should you avoid the numerous fairway bunkers with your second shot at this sweeping right-to-left dogleg par five. Another short par three follows at the 13th with its six, deep greenside bunkers protecting a green set in stunning tall trees.
Though short at 347 yards, the 14th is one of the toughest holes on the course with two pot bunkers on the right side of the fairway and an undulating green surrounded by mounding, three bunkers and a cross bunker with a high lip short left.
The longest of the par fives at 558 yards, the 15th requires accuracy with two water hazards crossing the fairway and two fairway bunkers protecting the landing areas before two more bunkers guard a small, round green.
Heading home, the 16th is toughest of the final three holes with a tough tee shot played over an out of bounds fence to a fairway with a tall tree in its centre and more out of bounds bordering the left and right sides of the fairway. Two large fairway bunkers will catch any approaches from too far back while the two-tiered green will test your putting skills.
The remodelled 17th got our pick for signature hole (see fact file).
The last at presents a chance for glory should you hit a long drive and avoid the out of bounds right. A short pitch to a three-tier green cut into a slope with five bunkers should yield a birdie chance – or leave a very tricky up and down if you find the sand.
Guest, winter and a range of package, corporate and society options available
Total distance White tees 6,249 yards
Yellow tees 5,976 yards
Red tees 5,562 yards
Large clubhouse with bar/lounge, dining room, snooker table and outside seating area
Locker rooms and changing facilities
Pro shop and PGA tuition
Excellent practice facilities including putting green, short game area and covered driving range bays
Caddy’s tip Accuracy is key with a number of multiple tiered greens with steep mounding and penal bunkering. A sharp wedge game will yield birdie opportunities and keep your score ticking over
Signature hole The 161-yard par three 17th plays downhill and presents a demanding shot late in the round. A burn sweeps in front and left of the green with the left side marked as out of bounds. Anything short or left of the putting surface risks finding the water, or worse the rocks at the front edge. Find the green and you should have a great chance for a two