Routed across flattish parkland the course was designed and set out by James Braid, five times winner of The Open Championship, in 1935. The picturesque property was formerly part of the Drayton Manor estate, the seat of the Peel family; of which Sir Robert Peel, founder of the police force, was the most famous member. The Club itself was founded in 1897 and played at two other locations prior to moving to its present grounds.
Whilst retaining the character of the original James Braid design the greens were re-laid to USGA standards in 2001 and provide a fair challenge on their mildly undulating surfaces. Indeed the green sites fit their surrounds very well for a course of this style and the greenside bunkering is impressive.
As I found out on a recent visit here to compete in the Midland Mid-Amateur Championship the most critical aspect is to be able to drive the ball straight. Walls of trees flank each and every fairway and whilst a lost ball is unlikely the volume of trees often require a chip-out sideways if you stray from the straight and narrow. The course is lightly bunkered from the tee, mostly on the shorter and less narrow holes, but due to the tightness of the course and lack of width they are not really required.
The layout it is not overlong (6,473 yards off the white tees to a par of 71) but there are only three short holes so effectively in a 36 hole competition you have 30 drives to thread between the trees! And on a few occasions the chutes one must drive through are particularly severe; a tree almost blocks the ideal line on the third whilst the tee-shots on the 15th and 17th are like trying to thread your ball through the eye of a needle. The sound of a ball thwacking timber is a regular sound you will hear at Drayton Park as are the screams from the rollercoasters at the adjacent Theme Park.
There is, however, a good mix of two-shotters with a couple that are driveable (14 & 17) and others which, certainly in the wind I encountered, were real toughies (3, 12 & 15). There’s not just good variety on the length of the holes but also a nice selection that dog-leg; either to the right or to the left. It’s hard to pick a standout hole because they are all very consistent but the eighth is perhaps a notch higher than the rest.
The course has only two par fives and these do represent a chance for birdie but as you would expect it takes a couple of straight shots to get on or close to the greens. The trio of short holes are particularly impressive with the delightful sixth the pick of the three.
You don’t have to travel far to find courses that are similar to Drayton Park but all in all this is a venue that does what it does quite well and offers excellent value to boot.
The second course at Trevose very rarely crops in conversation but during a family holiday to the Cornish Resort I made sure to play it.
The third course at Trevose, aptly named the "Short Course" is just 1,360 yards.