Very, very, very good greens


Hallamshire Golf Club

Date Reviewed
June 19, 2018
Reviewed by Ed Battye
Hallamshire Golf Club lies on a narrow strip of land at the edge of the city of Sheffield, overlooking the Derbyshire Peak District National Park and Pennines.

Golfers outside the White Rose county may not be too familiar with this course but it's certainly one they should familiarise themselves with as soon as possible.

Hallamshire is a difficult course to categorise. It's obviously not a links (although there are a few linkesque elements to be found here), it features plenty of heather but I wouldn't class it as a heathland course (some do though including the Sports Turf Research Institute), it's high on the edge of the Peak District moors but it's not what I would call moorland, it's parkland to a certain extent but not in your typical sense and there are plenty of trees but it isn't a woodland course!

So what is it then? Well, my answer to that is... does it have to be anything? Why should a course be classed as any particular type, what does it matter? Hallamshire basically takes some the best properties of the above mentioned categories and creates quite a unique experience. The Hallamshire Experience.

Its elevation of almost 900 feet above sea level provides glorious views but also means that it is exposed to the elements (hail showers at the end of May on one visit). It also means that wind is a big factor up here.

Hallamshire has a notoriously difficult start. In fact the outward nine (par 34) usually gets played in more shots than the inward half (par 37). I use outward and inward purposefully because the layout of the course is virtually an out and in routing. The front nine predominantly heads away from the clubhouse to the farthest (and highest) point on the course before you return home on the second nine.

The opening four holes contain three par fours all well over 400 yards (467, 428 & 462!) and a par 3 almost touching the 200 yard mark. Many a card has been wrecked over this opening stretch which plays predominantly into the prevailing wind.

Respite at the fifth, a reachable par five, is short lived before the course commences its middle section with a terrifying downhill par three (195 yards) with trouble on all sides; it's much better to miss right though because left is an almost certain bogey thanks to heather, bunkers but most importantly the slope of the green.

Personally it's this centre part of the course that provides the most interesting holes. They are certainly played over the most undulating terrain with a short downhill par four at the seventh where you go long at your peril. The eighth ranks as one of the best on the course with a terrific drive across a valley to a well bunkered and snaking fairway. The ninth is a tricky par 3 and whilst many are critical of the tee-shot at the 10th (you are restricted to hitting little more than a mid-iron) the approach more than makes up for it, my favourite shot on the course from a downhill lie across a ravine to a raised and angled green, large bunker to the left, a smaller one to the right and a beck just behind!

The 11th is an excellent gorse-lined par four and although the next - a short par 3 - does little more than get you to the 13th tee it still requires a precise tee-shot to avoid the four bunkers. The 13th itself is a solid hole with decisions to be made on the tee and an almost domed green at its culmination.

Patience is a virtue at Hallamshire. Many will think their round has gone after the first dozen or so holes but the final five offer the chance to improve your scorecard and those who play the waiting game will often prosper. They contain three par fives, all running in the same direction and usually with a tail wind, and a short but dramatic par three played over a quarry. The 16th is against the flow and requires two good shots to reach the green sheltered on the hillside against a backdrop of gorse and other shrubbery.

The greens at Hallamshire are quite superb. I will play around 75-100 different golf courses each year and Hallamshire is one of those that I play almost annually. I can count on one hand the number of greens that are superior to these each season and on many occasions I would class them as the best I play all year. The contouring of them is also superb, with subtle rather than exagerated borrows, and leaving yourself a downhill or sidehill putt is not what the doctor ordered.

Harry Colt has designed and influenced many great courses. This one might not fall into the top echelon of those but the 'Hallamshire Experience' is a very enjoyable, testing and rewarding one.

I dislike the phrase 'hidden gem' but for many that's what this course will be until they play it for the first time.

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