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Tadmarton

Yardage
5936
Par
69
SSS
69
Built
1922
Architect(s)
Cecil K Hutchinson
Nature:
Pleasant heathland course with gorse and deciduous trees, in tranquil setting and views.
Location/Address:
Wigginton near Banbury OX15 5HL
http://www.tadmartongolf.com
Secretary
David Newman
Telephone
01608 737278
Professional
John Stubbs
Green Keeper
Brian Owen
tadmarton golf club, fine running golf
tadmarton golf club, fine running golf
tadmarton golf club, fine running golf
tadmarton golf club, fine running golf
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Access Policy:
Visitors welcome
Dog Policy:
No dogs
Open Meetings:
Fees in 1960s
50p
Fees today
£35

Review

Tadmarton Heath with its beautiful Cotswold stone clubhouse with climbing wisteria and good wholesome food starts out as an attractive place to visit before you have even ventured across its course, sited on gradually rising ground.

tadmarton golf club, fine running golf

Views from practice ground. Click to enlarge

Tranquillity is the attribute most usually used associated with the rolling views from 650 feet above sea level that are to be found here, stretching across the northern Oxfordshire countryside.

Cyril Tolley and Roger Wethered were honorary members at Tadmarton, as they were at Frilford Heath, the other fine Oxfordshire course and played an opening exhibition match in 1922 with Cecil Hutchinson (golf architect with input to the designs of Carnoustie, Gleneagles and Woodhall Spa) and John Beaumont-Pease, the Club’s President and also the Royal and Ancient’s captain of 1931/2.

The 2015 R&A Captain Gavin Caldwell, was also a member of Tadmarton Heath, and recently presented the club with a Putter, to be awarded at their Junior Open competition.

tadmarton golf club, fine running golf

The seventeenth green

Whereas I will always be in debt to Frilford Heath and it’s dry running fairways in giving me an early understanding of the joy of heathland golf during my teenage years, I also look to Neil Fisher my French teacher, who on a school outing to Tadmarton, showed me that golf could be played to better effect along the ground, when the conditions were right. Here were three teenage boys using high flying clubs and bouncing their balls through to what I recall was the seventeenth green that runs away from you from front to back. Mr Fisher, in his plus-fours, having seen our disastrous attempts to hold the green, putted his approach from about forty yards out and put his ball pin high. This shot has stayed with me ever since and though I have learnt subsequently that it is usually better to bump-and-run for control and consistency than putt over fairway grass from that distance, it was on these Tadmarton dry fescue fairways that the concept of ‘running-golf ’ was first revealed to me.

tadmarton golf club, fine running golf

The drive at the fifteenth

My mentor was also to help in attracting Donald Steel to design the Radley College course and he became Secretary at Huntercombe on retirement from schoolmastering.

Brian Owen, the highly experienced course manager who has been at Tadmarton for around twenty-five years, over-seeds the greens, cut at between 3 and 4mm, twice yearly with fescue/browntop bent . The effect of a regular wind drying out the course, ensures the surfaces are firm and running on the un-watered fairways.

tadmarton golf club, fine running golf

Bunkers at thirteenth

Like so many other fine courses Tadmarton has recently been renovating and slightly adjusting its bunkering. Ken Moodie has been retained to get the designs right, with both the colour of sand in-keeping with the heathland environment and with their tops beautifully naturalised with fescue turf.

The front nine holes are routed around the outside and are more open while the second nine are tighter with an abundance of gorse lining the fairways.

tadmarton golf club, fine running golf

The dogleg fourteenth

It is not until you look at the scorecard that you realise the length is less than 6000 yards, largely due to eight par four holes being between 295 and 375 yards, but they are all interesting and testing, requiring the strategic placement of one’s drive to achieve the easier approach shot. The sloping approach to the second, the sleepered greenside bunker at the sixth, the green running away from you at the eighth, the tiny, high eleventh green following a tight drive, the two doglegs at fourteen and seventeen and the gorse-encircled fifteenth, all offer challenging aspects that allow no opportunity to drop ones guard and simply slog.

In between we have some great long par fours at nine on rising ground, at twelve, thirteen and eighteen, all of which need accurate long drives to set up your long iron approaches. The new back tee at five (539 yards) creates a wonderful tee-shot for any tigers taking on the line of bunkers running in echelon.

tadmarton golf club, fine running golf

Two par-three greens tenth and sixteenth

The four par threes vary in length from 114 to 174 yards and are aligned in different wind directions and although the third is not memorable that cannot be said of the seventh, which is played across a deep gully of a trout stream to a small green nestled in front of the comfortable, old clubhouse. Much work has been done recently to open up the undergrowth below the encroaching trees.  The other two are adjacent to each other but in opposite directions and have well bunkered interesting greens.

I have always enjoyed visiting this quality club with its warm charm that is an oasis of running golf amid a desert of Midlands soft ‘mud’.

 

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